Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
Update for June 11 – 17, 2013
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Registration opens for runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend events today | Disney World introduces Segway alternative for guests with disabilities | Disney Vacation Club announces Villas at the Grand Floridian | Quick takes | Crowd update
The weekly Walt Disney World Update is now published on Tuesdays.
Registration opens today for the runDisney Princess Half Marathon weekend events scheduled February 20–23, 2014, including the Princess Half Marathon, Enchanted 10K, Royal Family 5K and the new Glass Slipper Challenge, which combines the 10K and half marathon into a two-day competition that offers finishers a special medal. Runners looking to participate in the inaugural Glass Slipper Challenge should register as soon as possible—all available spaces filled up during the early registration period offered to annual passholders, Disney Vacation Club members, and Disney Visa cardholders, and demand for this new event is expected to be extremely strong. Registration costs are:
Disney Princess Half Marathon
- $160 – by August 13, 2013
- $175 – between August 14 and November 19, 2013
- $190 – on or after November 20, 2013
Disney Enchanted 10K
- $95 – by August 13, 2013
- $110 – between August 14 and November 19, 2013
- $125 – on or after November 20, 2013
Glass Slipper Challenge
- $270 – by August 13, 2013
- $290 – between August 14 and November 19, 2013
- $310 – on or after November 20, 2013
- Cinderella Royal Family 5K – $60 per participant
- $15 – per Kids Dash participant
- $30 – per One Mile Run participant
Pasta in the Park Party Tickets
- $52 for adults ages 10 and up ($28 for children ages 3 – 9); children under 3 are free
Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend Breakfast
- $37.50 for adults ages 10 and up ($17.50 for dhildren ages 3 – 9); children under 3 are free
- Bronze – No Charge
- Silver – $39 per package
- Gold – $65 per package
- Platinum – $115 per package
- Race Retreat – $120 per participant
Starting today, runners can also take advantage of "very limited" early registration for runDisney's new Coast to Coast challenge. If you complete both the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at the Disneyland Resort and the Princess Half Marathon in Walt Disney World in 2014,wyou earn a new pink-toned Coast to Coast medal. MousePlanet contributor Lorree Tachell spoke with runDisney representatives at the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego race expo, and said the new C2C medal, "actually looks better in person than I thought it would."
To snag a spot in the Tinker Bell Half Marathon before registration opens to the public on July 9, you must register for either the 2014 Princess Half Marathon or Glass Slipper Challenge, then on the first registration screen, scroll down to the section titled, "Tinker Bell Half Marathon – Special Promotion" and click "Yes." This adds the 2014 Tinker Bell Half Marathon and $175 to your Princess registration.
There is also an option to purchase the commemorative Tinker Bell event pin, but not the other add-ons that are usually offered with race registration, like the commemorative necklace or Pasta in the Park party. You may need to purchase those items separately when Tinker Bell Half Marathon registration officially opens in July.
Participants who complete the new Coast to Coast Challenge in 2014 will earn a new pink-toned Coast to Coast medal. MousePlanet contributor Lorree Tachell spoke with runDisney representatives at the Rock 'n' Roll San Diego race expo, and said the new C2C medal, "actually looks better in person than I thought it would." She also got the scoop on a question that has been bugging runners since Disney announced the new medal: is it possible for one runner to earn both version of the C2C medal in 2014, since runDisney has previously said you can only earn one Coast to Coast medal no matter how many races you run in a calendar year? Fortunately, the answer is "yes." If you complete both the Tinker Bell and Princess Half Marathons in 2014, you'll earn the pink C2C medal. If you then also complete the 2014 Disneyland Half Marathon and any other marathon or half marathon at Walt Disney World in 2014, you will also earn the regular Coast to Coast medal.
It appears 2014 is the only year the new pink C2C medal will be offered - it's probably a "one and done."
Following a years-long legal roller coaster that has included rulings, appeals, dismissals, and settlements, Walt Disney World has very quietly rolled out (pardon the pun) a small fleet of Electric Standing Vehicles (ESVs) for use in the theme parks. The rental vehicles are part of a settlement regarding the use of privately owned Segway Human Transport devices by guests with certain disabilities who prefer to use a standing mobility conveyance rather a seated electric wheelchair or scooter (electric conveyance vehicle, or ECV).
Disney successfully fought to maintain its ban on the use of such devices, which can travel up to 12 miles per hour, more than double the speed of the ECVs the company rents for use in the parks. Disney cited safety concerns about the use of the vehicles in the theme parks, despite offering guided Segway tours of Disney's California Adventure and Epcot during park hours, and allowing certain cast members to use the devices inside the theme parks.
As part of the settlement, Disney modified the standard ECV by extending the steering column, placing the storage basket on the back of the unit, and configuring the seat cushion to serve as a back rest. The four-wheeled ESV has the same "footprint" as the standard Disney scooter, travels at the same speed, uses the same toggle bar control, and has the same 450-pound weight limit.
Don't expect to see dozens of the devices rolling down Main Street, U.S.A. anytime soon. MousePlanet learned the devices were due to arrive over a month ago, but until this weekend, none of our staff had been able to find one in use in the parks. Cast members are extremely reluctant to discuss the devices, referring all inquiries to a manager. We did learn that each of the four theme parks has at least one unit (an Epcot CM said the park has two), and the rental fee is the same $50 per day, plus $20 key deposit charged for ECVs.
Magic Kingdom guest Ricardo was the operator of the ESV we spotted in the Magic Kingdom, and was happy to answer our questions about the device. He said that in order to rent Disney's ESV, he has to bring his personal Segway personal transporter to the entrance of a theme park, where security escorted him inside to the wheelchair rental counter. There, a manager was summoned to handle the transaction. Ricardo left his Segway with Disney, where it was kept in the stroller and wheelchair storeroom, and checked out the ESV.
He said the unit is much slower and more difficult to steer than his personal Segway, and that he would still prefer to use his own device, which he has customized with colored lights and music. When we met him, he was demonstrating his makeshift sound system for the ESV, using a Bluetooth-enabled portable speaker balanced on the front of the device and controlled by his iPad. Disney also prohibits amplified music in the parks, but Ricardo is clearly a regular and the Magic Kingdom manager seemed unconcerned by the personal enhancements.
The units were also reportedly delivered to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks, but we have yet to hear of one in use at either park.
After posting a photo of the device this weekend, many readers questioned why anyone would choose to use a Segway instead of a seated wheelchair or scooter. MousePlanet reader Lindsay Contreras is one of the thousands of people who use a Segway as a mobility aid, and explained on our Facebook page, "I have spina bifida and EDS [Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, group of inherited disorders that affect your connective tissues]. I can stand usually for a while but walking long distances is nearly impossible because it requires more muscle tone, which, due to my EDS, is impossible to accomplish because the disease depletes it. I can sit but it is not very comfortable to sit for a long period of time, [as] my legs will twitch, and my docs prefer I stand long as possible before breaks of sitting."
What do you think of the new device? Is this another victory for visitors with disabilities, or an accident waiting to happen? Join the discussion in the comments below.
For years, Disney Vacation Club based its marketing campaign around being the "best-kept Disney secret," so it's somewhat ironic how much the now-obsolete slogan is when it comes to information about the newest DVC property, the Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Disney posted a video on Facebook on May 20 announcing that existing members could purchase points at the new property during an advance sale period starting May 23, but there seemed to be little or no other communication about the property.
A DVC owner myself, I never received an email or mailing about the pre-sale, (though I did just just receive an advertisement for the member cruise aboard the Disney Dream, so DVC certainly knows where to find me) and the property still does not appear on the official DVC website. It could be that there was an interest list for this property as there was for the smaller Grand Californian Resort, or it may just be that the ongoing makeover of the DVC member services system has something to do with the surprising lack of communication.
Regardless, current DVC members can purchase points at the new resort for $145 per point until June 18. Call your DVC guide or 888-603-4169 to for help.
An across-the-board price increase takes effect on June 19, the first day non-members can buy points at the Grand Floridian. Points for the Grand Floridian, Villas at Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Aulani (the Disney Vacation Club resort Hawai'i) increases to $150 per point. Call 888-603-4169 for help.
...The final piece of track for the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster Train ride in New Fantasyland was laid last week. There is still no opening date announced for the ride.
...We had the opportunity to enjoy a scoop at the new L'Artisan des Glaces Ice Cream and Sorbet Shop in Epcot's France Pavilion this weekend, though the untimely demise of a digital camera's SD card means we don't have photos to share with you just yet. The new shop replaces the former bakery, and feels so much roomier due to the removal of the entire second serving line. Instead of parallel counters, there is just one long counter with two stations, one to pay, and a second to select your flavors and receive your treat. There are 10 house-made ice cream and sorbet flavors offered daily, from classics like chocolate to less-common blends like salted caramel ice cream and pomegranate sorbet (get the lemon sorbet—trust me). Single scoops are $3.99. Adult ice cream "floats," (two scoops of ice cream, served in a martini glass and topped with a selection of liquors), are also on the menu. We feel awful about the lack of photos, and will force ourselves to make a second trip. And maybe a third.
...Pecos Bill's in the Magic Kingdom is offering a souvenir clear plastic Lone Ranger boot filled with frozen root been for $8.99. The root beer slush is also available without the mug for $3.99, and counts as a snack credit on the Disney Dining Plan.
...Car Masters Weekend returns to Downtown Disney June 15 and 16 for Father's Day. The event is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. both days, and features a car show, a Cars movie marathon at the AMC theater, special merchandise and autograph opportunities, and a Cars meet-and-greet with Lightning McQueen, Mater, and Finn McMissile. More details at the event website.
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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."
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Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Adrienne here.
Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.
- Night of Joy – September 6–7
- Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party – September 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27, 29; October 3, 4, 6, 10, 11, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22, 24, 25, 27, 29, 31; and November 1.
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – September 27 to November 11
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend – October 4–5
- EasyWDW.com reports that Disney Hollywood Studios will close at 6 p.m. on October 26 due to a private event for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Holiday Time at Walt Disney World – begins November 8
- Opening night for Osbourn Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – November 8
- Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party – November 8, 11, 14, 15, 17, 21, 22; and December 1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20.
- Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – November 8–9
- MouseAdventure World Explorers V – November 16–17. Keep an eye on our MouseAdventure Facebook page, and register for our MouseAdventure Newsletters for more details as they are announced.
- Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 9–12
- Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 21–23
- Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend (October 4–5) – Registration is open for the Tower of Terror 10-Miler, Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run, Kids Races, Disney Villains Hollywood Bash.
- Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend (November 8–9) – The Wine & Dine Half Marathon is now sold out. Registration is still open for Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K, Kids' Races, Wine & Dine Finish Line Party.
- Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (January 9–12) – Sold out: Walt Disney World Half Marathon, WDW 10K, Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Dopey Challenge, Runner's World Challenge. Registration is still open for the Walt Disney World Marathon, Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, Family Reunion Breakfast and Pasta in the Park Party.
- Disney's Princess Half-Marathon Weekend (February 21–23) – 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.
- Main Street Bakery – closed through June 18 for conversion to Starbucks location. Expected to open June 19, 2013.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed June 22 & 23 for refurbishment.
- Pirates of the Caribbean – closed June 27–30 for an "animation refurbishment."
- Prince Charming Regal Carousel – closed August 1–21 for refurbishment.
- Liberty Belle – closed August 5–9 for refurbishment.
- Jungle Cruise – closed August 19 through September 30 for refurbishment.
- Cinderella's Royal Table – closed September 10–13 for refurbishment.
- Princess Fairytale Hall – opens 2013.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – opens 2014.
- Fountain View Ice Cream – closed through early September for conversion to Starbucks location.
- New rest room between America and Japan pavilions – scheduled to open Fall 2013.
- Muppet*Vision 3D – closed August 6 through September 2 for refurbishment.
- Both parades (Disney Channel Rocks and Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade) have ended their run. No new parades have been announced.
- No known refurbishments.
- All Star Movies – feature icons refurbishment through September 20.
All Star Music
- Feature icons refurbishment through September.
- Billboard replacement on Broadway buildings 7 & 8 – June 7–27
- Melody Hall guest check in parking renovation – June 13 through August 7
All Star Sports
- Feature icons refurbishment through September 20.
- Soft goods replacement in guest rooms through June 7
- BoardWalk - guest parking lot renovation through June 20
- Caribbean Beach - Jamaica Village building painting and repairs through June 28
Disney's Contemporary Resort
- California Grill closed through late summer for refurbishment.
- Second floor lobby wall covering replaced through June 24
- Renovation of the 14th floor suites and concierge lounge through June 28
- Soft goods replacement in Contemporary Tower and south Garden Wing guest rooms through July 5
- Guest elevator renovations – through December 8
- Fort Wilderness - Bridge 80 replacement scheduled through June 3
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
- Beach area closed through mid-June for refurbishment.
- Beach pool slide was scheduled to be closed May 27 through June 1 for refurbishment, and the entire Beach pool area closed May 30 through June 1. The Courtyard pool remains open.
- Polynesian – soft goods replacement in guest rooms through October 4
- Feature icons refurbishment through October 2
- '70s and '80s guest parking areas refurbishment June 17–28
Port Orleans French Quarter
- French Quarter Square brick refurbishment through June 6
- Atrium and lobby renovation through June 23
- Bridge and bus stop vine removal and painting through August 30
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.
- Soft goods replacement in presidential and vice-presidential suites through June 28
- Main building exterior repairs through August 5
- Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 27, 2013 through January 4, 2014 for refurbishment.
Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. Will not be performed on the following dates in 2013:
- July 23
- September 17–21
- November 5–6
Discounts for everyone
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:
There are some restrictions:
For full details, visit the Disney special offer site.
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.
Discounts for Annual Passholders
Passholder room discounts June 4 through August 15
A discount for annual passholders is available for most dates June 4 through August 15. Advance reservations required.
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, 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. Moderate and Deluxe Resort suites may be available at a lower discount - check with your travel agent. Full details on the offer website. (AP login required)
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).
Discounts for Disney Visa cardholders
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.
Thanks to MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations for the information.
Discounts for Florida residents
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.
Discounts for US Military
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.
Discounts for UK residents
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.