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Update for June 25 – July 1, 2013

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News and Views

Disney takes another step towards launching Fastpass+ | Starbucks in the Magic Kingdom | Disney Dining Plan price hike | Quick takes | Crowd update
Our weekly Walt Disney World Update publishes on Tuesdays.

Disney takes another step towards launching Fastpass+

As Jeff Kober wrote on MousePlanet yesterday, Disney started a new phase of testing of its My Magic + program June 20 through 26, inviting a group of preselected guests staying at Disney's Contemporary Resort and Disney's Animal Kingdom Resort to participate in a trial of the Fastpass+ system using MagicBand wristbands.


FastPass+ entrances are open at selected attractions during a week-long test of the new My Magic+ program. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The debut of MagicBand wristbands among regular theme park guests, even on this limited scale, is a sign that all Walt Disney World visitors should become more familiar with what My Magic+ means when implemented across the board. Jeff explains what is known at this point about Fastpass+, and details some of the new—and surprising—attractions that offer this new service. Read the whole story here, then let us know what you think about Fastpass+ so far. Are you excited about having a new vacation planning tool, or are you worried that My Disney Experience marks the end of spontaneity in the Disney theme parks.


MagicBand accessories are offered for sale at the Fantasia Shop at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Photo by Angela Moran.

Starbucks in the Magic Kingdom

The Main Street Bakery reopened last week as the first Starbucks cafe inside a Walt Disney World theme park, and, surprisingly enough, the world has not yet come to an end. Despite the hand-wringing the original announcement prompted among some Disney fans, it turns out that Florida's new Starbucks is just another storefront. The logos are subtle, the space retains the turn-of-the-century feel of the former bakery, and—best of all—theme-park coffee lovers can now choose a different option from the Nescafe product served at other park restaurants.


The new Starbucks store has opened on Main Street, U.S.A. The expanded queue, counter, and registers replace the former serving line and seating area. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

That is not to say there weren't some major changes made to the Main Street Bakery in order to accommodate all of those Starbucks coffee machines. The counter was transformed into two parallel serving lines, and the adjacent seating area was removed entirely. There is now no seating inside the bakery, so plan to take your latte and croissant with you. Fortunately, there is seating available near the cone shop and across the street at Casey's.


The Main Street Bakery now serves a a full menu of Starbucks drinks and snacks, as well as a selection of Disney food items. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The bakery now offers the usual assortment of Starbucks drinks and baked goods, along with a selection of Disney baked goods and snacks. Unfortunately, the delicious cinnamon rolls and other hot baked treats fell victim to the menu change, but we've heard they may pop up in another location sometime in the future.


Servers at the new Starbucks wear period-appropriate costumes, and the shop is decorated with "vintage" photos like these, including an image from a fictional grand opening. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

What do you think of the new Starbucks? Are you likely to grab your morning mocha on Main Street, or do you have another Walt Disney World coffee tradition?

Disney Dining Plan price hike

In the wake of the recent admission price hike, Disney has also quietly raised the price of the Disney Dining Plan for new bookings. Mary Kraemer with MousePlanet sponsor travel agency Mouse Ear Vacations said the change adds a few dollars to the daily rate for all three levels of dining plan. The new prices are:

Plan Adults (10+) Children (3-9)
Quick Service $39.64 $15.75
Basic $58.66 $18.88
Deluxe $104.94 $29.51

Mary notes that these prices remain consistent through Christmas week, which may indicate that Disney has decided to abandon the concept of seasonal pricing adjustments for the rest of 2013.

Quick takes…

...MousePlanet reader Goodnplenty stopped by guest relations to replace her annual passport last weekend, and was told that passholders with the new RFID-enabled plastic cards may be able to once again log into the Walt Disney World website as soon as this week. Passholders who converted their paper tickets into plastic passes have been unable to access the passholder site since the change. We're keeping our fingers crossed that a fix is on the horizon.


Celebrate the Magic! castle show in the Magic Kingdom has a "Limited Time Magic" special summer segment. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

...Walt Disney World celebrates another Long Lost Friends Week during an upcoming Limited Time Magic promotion. The dates have not been announced, but Disney is now asking visitors to vote on which characters they'd like to see in the parks. Today is the last day to vote via the Disney Parks Blog.


A summer trolley show is part of the Limited Time Magic lineup. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

...EatingWDW reports that the bread cones from Cars Land have made their way to Disney's Hollywood Studios, after an earlier appearance in Downtown Disney. Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner now offers the cones with a choice of three fillings: sausage, marinara and mozzarella ($8.99); cajun shrimp salad ($9.99); or chicken, bacon and avocado salad ($8.99). All three are served with chips.

...The Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor has been updated with images and dialogue that references the recently released Disney–Pixar movie Monsters University.


The Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor has a new focus on "Monster's University." Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

...Registration is still open for the Princess Half Marathon, which is at 61 percent of capacity as of this writing. Both the inaugural Enchanted 10K, and the Glass Slipper Challenge for runners who wanted to tackle both races, are now sold out. The Kids Races and spectator packages are all still available.

...Green Builder Media is hosting a Made in America Giveaway to promote the Innoventions Vision House. One winner will receive a 4-day, 3-night trip to Walt Disney World for four people, including airfare, hotel accommodations, and theme park tickets. The contest ends August 14, 2013, and you can enter once. Click here to enter; complete rules are available here.

Are we looking for you?

Do you write or blog about Walt Disney World or Disney-related topics? Do you have a Disney-related YouTube channel or independent website? If so, we want to meet you. MousePlanet is looking for established writers to cover new areas of the Disney universe, including the international Parks and Resorts.

If you are interested in learning how your blog or site can work with MousePlanet, 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."

The busy summer season has started 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, June 25, 2013 9 / 10
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 8 / 10
Thursday, June 27, 2013 9 / 10
Friday, June 28, 2013 9 / 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!

  • Wednesday is the best day to visit the Magic Kingdom.
  • The resort crowd level on Saturday 9 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.
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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.

Resort Events

2013

2014

runDisney events

2013

  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend – October 4–5. The Tower of Terror 10-Miler is now sold out. Registration is still open for the 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.

2014

  • 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 open. Events include Disney's Princess Half Marathon individual and team events, Enchanted 10K, Disney Royal Family 5K, Kids Races, post-5K Breakfast, and Pasta in the Park Party. Registration for the 10K and the Glass Slipper Challenge (both the 10K and half marathon) is sold out. 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

  • Pirates of the Caribbean – closed July 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.


Workers install pavers outside the new Princess Fairytale Hall, scheduled to open later this year. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Epcot

  • Fountain View Ice Cream – closed through early September for conversion to Starbucks location.
  • Spaceship Earth – closed August 18-24 for refurbishment.
  • New rest room between America and Japan pavilions – scheduled to open Fall 2013.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • 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.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known refurbishments.


Work continues on the new Disney Vacation Club addition to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Resorts

  • 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
    • Arcade closes July 28 for conversion into a temporary grab-and-go food location. Expected to reopen in December.
    • Food court closed August 5 - mid-December for refurbishment. During this time, snacks and drinks will be available from a grab-and-go location in the former arcade. Hot food will be available from the All-Star Music Food Court, and Disney will offer bus service between the resorts.
  • BoardWalk - guest parking lot renovation through July 19
  • Caribbean Beach - Jamaica Village building painting and repairs through June 28
  • Contemporary Resort
    • California Grill closed through late summer for refurbishment.
    • 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
  • Grand Floridian – Convention center parking lot refurbishment August 5–7
  • Polynesian – soft goods replacement in guest rooms through October 4
  • Pop Century
    • Feature icons refurbishment through October 2
    • '70s and '80s guest parking areas refurbishment June 17–28
  • Port Orleans French Quarter
    • Atrium and lobby renovation through July 12
  • Port Orleans Riverside
    • 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.
  • Yacht and Beach Club – Beach Club Villas sidewalk will be repaired
  • Wilderness Lodge
    • Soft goods replacement in presidential and vice-presidential suites through June 28
    • Main building exterior repairs through August 5

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 27, 2013 through January 4, 2014 for refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • 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

Current Discounts & Promotions

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:

  • 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.

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).

Resort Category Resort Name Discount if booked by 6/19 Discount if booked by 8/15
Value Resorts Disney's All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Pop Century, Art of Animation Family Suites Up to 20% Up to 15%
Moderate Resorts Disney's Port Orleans Riverside, Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, the Cabins at Fort Wilderness Up to 25% Up to 20%
Deluxe Resorts Disney's Yacht and Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard view), Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian, Contemporary, Wilderness Lodge Up to 35% Up to 30%
Disney Vacation Club Resorts Disney's Beach Club Villas, Old Key West, BoardWalk Villas, Villas at the Wilderness Lodge, Saratoga Springs, Bay Lake Towers Up to 35% Up to 30%

 

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.

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.

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.


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.