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Update for May 14 – 20, 2013

Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Resort Events | Refurbishments and Attraction Closures | Discounts and Promotions | Comments

News and Views

Tickets now on sale for Fall special events | Get ready for 2013 Star Wars Weekends | Preview the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival | September Free Dining offer | New hotel offer for Florida residents | Construction notes | Quick takes | Crowd update
Note: The weekly Walt Disney World Update is now published on Tuesdays.

Tickets now available for Night of Joy; Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

Tickets for the fall special ticket events at the Magic Kingdom are now on sale:

This year’s Night of Joy event takes place September 6–7, from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. nightly. The event features contemporary Christian rock, pop, and gospel music, plus use of favorite Magic Kingdom park attractions. This year’s line-up includes: MercyMe, Michael W. Smith/Steven Curtis Chapman, Skillet, Audio Adrenaline, Mandisa, For KING & COUNTRY, City Harbor, We As Human and Moriah Peters (September 6); and TobyMac, Newsboys, Francesca Battistelli, Matthew West, Group 1 Crew, Building 429, Jamie Grace and Plumb (September 7). Single-day tickets start at $55 per person.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party returns to the park September 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27 & 29; October 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29 and 31; and November 1. From 7 p.m. to midnight, guests can enjoy trick-or-treating throughout the park, attractions, special Halloween-themed entertainment and much more.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party takes place November 8, 11, 14, 15, 17, 21, 22; and December 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19 and 20. Parties include special holiday-themed entertainment, including a parade and fireworks, Disney characters in holiday attire, and much more.

Ticket prices for both Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party events vary based on event date and whether you purchase in advance or on the night of the event. For more details, visit Walt Disney World Special Events & Tours.

Annual passholders can call (407) 560-PASS (407-560-7277) for additional information.

Disney Vacation Club members can call DVC Member Services at (800) 800-9808.

Get ready for 2013 Star Wars Weekends

The 2013 Star Wars Weekends kicks off this Friday, May 17. New offerings for this year's event include:

  • A photo opportunity with Jabba the Hutt's pet rancor. Disney says the 17-foot-long, 700-pound replica is a popular feature at Star Wars events around the world.
  • A series of "one-man shows" featuring Star Wars notables James Arnold Taylor (all event days), Ray Park (weekends 1 and 11) and Warwick Davis (weekends II and III). Disney advises guests to arrive early for these popular shows.
  • An opportunity to order a custom figurine of yourself as a Stormtrooper in the D-Tech Me experience, as we described last week.

In addition to Star Wars Weekends, event host James Arnold Taylor and the 30-plus Star Wars characters who are making appearances throughout Disney's Hollywood Studios during the event, here are the celebrities scheduled to appear during Weekend I:

  • Ray Park (Darth Maul – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
  • Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett – Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi)
  • Dee Bradley Baker (voice of Captain Rex – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Each event day begins with the Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade, leading to the Star Wars Weekends event stage and the Star Wars Celebrity Welcome. If you're hoping to participate in the Jedi Training Academy, be sure to sign up as soon as possible after park opening.

Every evening, the Hyperspace Hoopla caps off the day's event with a live show featuring Star Wars characters. No two shows are quite the same.

Are you heading to the first Star Wars Weekend? Share your photos with us, and they could be featured in next week's Update. E-mail your photos to parkupdates@mouseplanet.com, and be sure to include your full name as you'd like it to appear on the site.

Preview the 2013 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival

A new Scotland Marketplace, the return of the Brazil Marketplace with an all-new menu, and a line-up of celebrity chefs and new Eat to the Beat! performers are among the first details released by Disney about the 18th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

A more detailed event schedule will become available before reservations for the hard-ticket events open in August, but for now, we have event dates (September 27 through November 11), Party for the Senses event dates (October 5, 12, 19 26, and November 2), and a preliminary schedule of some Eat to the Beat! concerts:

  • Sept. 27-29 – STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 1 – the Go-Go's
  • Oct. 10-11 – Edwin McCain
  • Oct. 12-13 – The Manhattan Transfer
  • Oct. 31-Nov. 1 – Spin Doctors
  • Nov. 2-3 – Christopher Cross

Disney's official Food and Wine Festival site now directs to a Facebook page, so keep an eye there for more information and updates. You don't need to have or use a Facebook account to view the page, but some functions may be limited for non-members.

September Free Dining offer

First, Disney announced a new Free Dining offer for U.K. residents, then an offer for Disney Visa cardholders visiting selected dates this September. Now the September Free Dining offer is available without using a Disney Visa card. Check in at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel from September 2 to 25 and stay three to 14 nights, and everyone in your party gets free dining. Stay at a:

  • Value Resort – receive the Quick Service Dining plan for free. You can upgrade to the Standard or Deluxe dining plan by paying the difference.
  • Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resort – receive the Standard dining plan. You can upgrade to the Deluxe dining plan by paying the differenc
There are some restrictions:
  • You must purchase a 2-Day (or longer) Magic Your Way ticket for very member of your party.
  • You must book your travel by July 31.
  • You must book the same tickets and dining plan for every member of your party.
  • Children ages 3-9 must order from the children's menu where offered; children under age 3 are not eligible for free dining.
  • This offer excludes the campsites at Fort Wilderness, the Little Mermaid rooms at the Art of Animation Resort, and all 3-bedroom Villas.

For full details, visit the Disney special offer site

New hotel offer for Florida residents

Florida residents can book a Walt Disney World Resort hotel room rom at rates starting at $107 per night under a new offer announced last week. The offer is valid most nights from June 4 to August 15, 2013, with the biggest discounts offered when booked before June 19.

Florida residents can get more details at the Disney special offer site.

Construction notes

Some notable construction permits filed this week:

  • Even more "Downtown Disney Operatons Team Trailers" being installed in the Downtown Disney lots for the Disney Springs project.
  • Roofing enhancement on the Luau building at the Polynesian Resort.
  • Work on several pump stations at Typhoon Lagoon.
  • CO2 monitoring system modification in Disney's Hollywood Studios, involving the Muppet's B complex, Backlot Express restaurant, Mama Melrose's, Hollywood Brown Derby and the Studio Tour building.

Quick takes…

…The new Disney Visa kiosk is up and running outside the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom, and is offering a unique incentive. Sign up for a Disney Rewards Visa at the kiosk, and you can recieve Fastpass tickets to a selection of Magic Kingdom attractions.

...Walt Disney World hosted a coronation ceremony last weekend to name Merida the 11th official Disney Princess. The move - and her official Disney makeover - sparked protest and launched an online petition spearheaded by the site A Mighty Girl. Now Merida's creator, writer and director Brenda Chapman, has written a scathing commentary on Merida's new image, telling the Marin Independent Journal, "I think it's atrocious what they have done to Merida."

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

Advertisement

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 mid-sized crowds for the next couple of weeks leading up to Memorial Day weekend. 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, May 14, 2013 3 / 10
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 4 / 10
Thursday, May 16, 2013 4 / 10
Friday, May 17, 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 6 out of 10.
  • Following a Touring Plan is important when crowd levels spike at the park you're visiting!

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.

Resort Events

2013

2014

runDisney events

2013

2014

  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (January 9–12, 2014) – Sold out: WDW 10K, Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Dopey Challenge, 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, Family Reunion Breakfast, Pasta in the Park Party.
  • 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. runDisney has announced a special achievement for those running both the Princess and Tinker Bell half marathons.

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 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 through early August for conversion to Starbucks location.
  • France pavilion ice cream shop – scheduled to open June 2013 at site of the 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.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known refurbishments.

Resorts

  • 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 remains open.
  • 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 remains open during this time.

Water Parks

  • No known refurbishments.

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

Free Dining in September

First Disney announced a new Free Dining offer for U.K. residents, then an offer for Disney Visa cardholders visiting selected dates this September. Now the September Free Dining offer is available without using a Disney Visa card. Check in at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel from September 2 to 25 and stay three to 14 nights, and everyone in your party gets free dining. Stay at a:

  • Value Resort – receive the Quick Service Dining plan for free. You can upgrade to the Standard or Deluxe dining plan by paying the difference.
  • Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resort – receive the Standard dining plan. You can upgrade to the Deluxe dining plan by paying the difference
There are some restrictions:
  • You must purchase a 2-Day (or longer) Magic Your Way ticket for very member of your party.
  • You must book your travel by July 31.
  • You must book the same tickets and dining plan for every member of your party.
  • Children ages 3-9 must order from the children's menu where offered; children under age 3 are not eligible for free dining.
  • This offer excludes the campsites at Fort Wilderness, the Little Mermaid rooms at the Art of Animation Resort, and all 3-bedroom Villas.

For full details, visit the Disney special offer site

2014 Free Dining offer for UK residents

2014 Free Dining offers for UK residents have been released. From the information posted on the Virgin Holidays website, it appears the 2014 program offers free Quick Service Dining Plan plan when booking at a Moderate resort, and free Dining Plan when booking at Deluxe resorts, Old Key West or Saratoga Springs. There are also offers for a free $200 Disney Gift Card and/or a 14-day ticket for the price of a 7-day ticket depending on travel dates. These particular offers are valid for UK residents only.

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 to 30 percent off room-only bookings, with the option of adding non-discounted tickets and dining plans if desired. Rooms must be booked by June 14 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 discount for annual passholders is available for most dates through June 3. 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, 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. Residents receive 10 percent 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. Residents receive 10 percent 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, 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.


Talk about this article and more, on the MousePad community forums.


(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.