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Update for April 1 – 7, 2014

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News and Views

Walt Disney World expands My Disney Experience to day guests | Disney's Night of Joy tickets on sale | Sounds Like Summer concert lineup | Walt Disney World raises parking fees | Star Wars character meals added to 2014 Star Wars Weekends lineup | Contemporary Resort to host D23 event in November | Tables in Wonderland to hold special Flower & Garden event | Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel presents a PEEPtasatic Easter | Third annual Easter egg display April 4–22 at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa | runDisney postpones packet pick–up policy change until November | This week at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival | Disney Cruise Line announces 2015 summer schedule | Quick takes | Crowd update

Walt Disney World expands My Disney Experience to day guests

MousePlanet confirmed a report first posted by our sponsor TouringPlans.com that Walt Disney World has expanded more elements of the My Disney Experience program to visitors who are not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, making advance Fastpass+ reservations available to "day guests" for the first time. In addition, these visitors may now purchase MagicBand devices selected stores throughout the Resort, and link them to their My Disney Experience profile.

Effective yesterday, March 31, day guests can make Fastpass+ reservations up to 30 days in advance of their visit, provided they purchase their tickets in advance, either online from the Disney website or from an authorized seller. Once the customer has their admission ticket, they must create a My Disney Experience account through the website or the mobile app, then link the tickets to their profile.

Once the account is set up and the tickets linked, future visitors will have the option to make Fastpass+ selections, and no longer need visit a Fastpass+ kiosk when they arrive at a Walt Disney World theme park to make their selection. Once at the parks, day guests will tap their admission card to enter the parks and access the Fastpass+ return lines. These giests can also use the mobile app or Fastpass+ kiosks in the parks to change their selections during the day if they wish.

Along with this expansion comes the first sales of MagicBand devices to guests who are not otherwise eligible to receive a free MagicBand, or who want a different color than they originally selected. Each MagicBand is $12.95, plus tax, and from the photos posted on social media sites it appears they come in the same seven colors previously offered – grey, orange, blue, red, pink, yellow and green. The devices are sold at select Walt Disney World gift shops and in Downtown Disney, and can be linked at the point of sale to your admission ticket and My Disney Experience account.

Day guests who have created a My Disney Experience account can purchase and use a MagicBand as a convenient alternative to using their hard ticket for Fastpass+ admission, but may not use the bands to make purchases. We've heard Disney has plans to add this feature for passholders and other guests who do not have room charging priveleges at a Walt Disney World resort hotel, but for now you'll need to keep cash or credit cards on hand when you shop.

Guests who have not already created a My Disney Experience account, or who purchase their theme park tickets on their park arrival day, will still need to use the Fastpass+ kiosks to make their attraction selections. However, guests with multi-day tickets can go to one of the My Disney Experience service centers inside the theme parks or Downtown Disney to create an account and make Fastpass+ selections for the rest of their visit.


Off-site Walt Disney World resort guests now have 30-day advanced access to FastPass+ reservations, and can purchase MagicBand wristbands to use during their visit. Photo by Marie Rossiter

Disney's Night of Joy tickets now on sale

Individual tickets for Disney's Night of Joy 2014 are now on sale, with group tickets going on sale Tuesday, April 8, 2014 according to the Disney Parks Blog

The popular event, held in the Magic Kingdom this year on September 5 and 6 from 7:30 p.m. through 1:00 a.m., features some of the top names in Christian music. Scheduled artists include:

Friday, September 5, 2014

  • Hillsong United
  • Chris Tomlin
  • Matthew West
  • for KING & COUNTRY
  • Mandisa
  • Building 429
  • Matt Maher
  • The Neverclaim

Saturday, September 5, 2014

  • Casting Crowns
  • MercyMe
  • Israel Houghton & New Bread
  • Britt Nicole
  • Colton Dixon
  • Rhet Walker
  • We as Human
  • 1 Girl Nation

Night of Joy is a special event ticket and is not included in regular theme park admission. 

Single-night tickets are $59 plus tax in advance and $69 plus tax on show days. There is a two-day ticket option, which is $108 per night and includes a one-day admission to one of Disney's two water parks or DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park if you purchase by August 5, 2014.

You can purchase tickets by visiting the Night of Joy website of by calling (407) W-DISNEY (407-934-7639). As with all of these types of events, the entertainment is subject to change without notice.

Sounds Like Summer concert lineup

The America Gardens Theatre will again play host to the Sounds Like Summer concert series at Ecpot this June and July. These concerts are included with theme park admission, and seating is first-come, first-serve. Disney has published the following schedule of bands, but this information is subject to change without notice.

  • June 8-14  Hotel California - A Salute to the Eagles
  • June 15-21  Don't Stop Believin' - Journey Tribute Band
  • June 22-28  Mike Delguidice & Big Shot - The Ultimate Billy Joel Show
  • June 29-July 5  Don't Look Back - Boston Tribute Band
  • July 6-12  Stayin' Alive - A Tribute to the Bee Gees
  • July 13-19  Slippery When Wet - The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute
  • July 20-26  2U - A Tribute to U2

TouringPlans.com (a MousePlanet sponsor) says the performances at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m., and 8:00 p.m.. On July 4, show times are at 5:15 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m., and 9 p.m.

Walt Disney World raises parking fees

This past Sunday Walt Disney World raised the prices on its parking fees for its theme parks as well as  valet parking service at select resort hotels. According to the official Walt Disney World website, the new fees are:

  • Automobile, taxi, limo or motorcycle: $17 (up from $15)
  • Camper, trailer or RV: $18 (up from $16)
  • Bus or tractor trailer: $21 (up from $19)

Valet parking at Walt Disney World deluxe resorts costs $20 (previously $15). Resorts with valet parking service include:

  • Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel & Spa
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort
  • Disney's Boardwalk Inn
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort
  • Disney's Beach Club Resort
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge

Resort hotel parking is complimentary with a valid Key to the World card, valid MagicBand, or resort parking permit. 

Star Wars character meals added to 2014 Star Wars Weekends lineup

Star Wars fans looking for a fun character dining experience can now make reservations for two new Star Wars character meals at Disney's Hollywood Studios. A breakfast and dinner character meal is offered daily from May 4 through June 15, as part of the 2014 Star Wars Weekends event. Each meal includes character appearances and photo packages:

Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast

Start the day at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater for the Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast. Watch Star Wars clips on the dine-in movie screens, while meeting Stormtroopers, Jawa, Greedo, and Boba Fett. You'll also get a meet-and-greet and photo opportunity with Darth Vader, and receive a digital download of your photo via a commemorative PhotoPass card. 

Star Wars characters scheduled to make appearances at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Galactic Breakfast include:

  • Darth Vader
  • Boba Fett
  • Greedo
  • Jawas
  • Stormtroopers

The meal is offered daily May 4 through June 15, from 8 a.m. to noon.  The prices are: Adults (ages 10 and up) $47.99; children (ages 3-9): $29.99. Disney Dining Plan is accepted, and requires two table service credits

Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine

Taking the place of the Fantasmic dinner experience at Hollywood and Vine during this promotion, Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine features Mickey and Friends dressed as Star Wars characters. Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy and Stormtrooper Donald will roam through the meal, while Chip and Dale, dressed as Ewoks, will be available for a meet-and-greet and photo opportunity. As with the breakfast package, each party will receive a digital download of the photo via a commemorative PhotoPass card. 

Scheduled character appearances include:

  • Jedi Mickey
  • Princess Leia Minnie
  • Darth Vader Goofy
  • Storm Trooper Donald
  • Ewoks Chip 'n' Dale


Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine guests can meet Jedi Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie, Darth Vader Goofy and Storm Trooper Donald during their meal. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This can also be booked as the Fantasmic dinner experience for a small added fee, giving you access to the VIP seating voucher for Fantasmic. 

The meal is offered daily May 4 through June 15, starting at 4:15 p.m.

Prices are:

  • Character meal only – Adults (ages 10 and up): $55.99; children (ages 3-9): $32.99
  • Character meal and Fantasmic package – Adults (ages10 and up): $59.99; children (ages3-9): $36.99

Disney Dining Plan is accepted, and requires two table service credits. This also includes the Fantasmic Dinner Package.

Reservations are now open. Visitors can make an advanced reservation via the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant website, the Fantasmic! Dinner Package website Hollywood and Vine website or by calling WDW Dining directly at (407) WDW-DINE  or (407) 939-3463.

Several MousePlanet readers have balked at the high price of these meals, which are priced higher than some other character meals. For comparison, the normal Fantasmic! dinner experience pricing is $35.99 for adults; $19.99 for children, so the addition of the Disney / Star Wars characters adds as much as a $20 premium to the experience. Other readers are very excited about the offering, and bookings are reportedly strong. Both breakfast and dinner are sold out for the first day of the offering, Sunday May 4, and a quick search of the Disney dining website shows just one or two reservations available each night for a party of four.

Walt Disney World's Contemporary Resort to host D23 event in November


The official logo for D23 Destination: Attraction Rewind presented by H2O Plus to be held November 22 and 23 at Walt Disney World's Contemporary Resort  

On November 22 and 23, 2014, D23: The official Disney Fan Club invites members to enjoy "D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind" presented by H20 at the Walt Disney World Contemporary Resort. The event spotlights past attractions such as If You Had Wings, Adventure Thru Inner Space, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and many other fan favorites. Disney archivists, Imagineers, Legends and luminaries will come together to share concept art and images, vintage video clips and hours of revealing stories with fans.

Visitors can also enjoy a full day of presentations dedicated to the 1964–1965 New York World's Fair, which debuted "it's a small world" and Carousel of Progress.

Presenters and panelists include Disney Legends Marty Sklar, Bob Gurr and Alice Davis; Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline; Disney and World's Fair historians Bill Cottler, Stacia Martin and Michael Kelly. D23 will announce more presenters and panelists in the coming weeks.

Highlights of D23 Destination D: Attraction Rewind presented by H20 Plus will include:

  • Pleasure Island Rewind: a celebration of the Downtown Disney nightlife district in cluing Adventurers Club, Comedy Warehouse, Mannequins and 8 Trax. The evening will be capped off with a "New Year's Eve" countdown and celebration.
  • Disney Goes to the World's Fair: a look at how Disney became part of the landmark event
  • Retro Rewind References: nods to favorites of the past in current Disney Parks attractions
  • That Was Entertainment:  revisiting beloved theme park parades, shows, and spectacles.

Tickets will be available Wednesday, April 16, 2014 for $190 each exclusively for D23 Gold and Silver members for a limited time. D23 Free members can purchase any remaining tickets on May 28 for $250 each. All guests will receive a special gift in honor of Disney's contributions to the 50th anniversary of the 1964-65 World's Fair in New York City.

A limited number of "Top of the World" tickets will be available featuring reserved seating, early shopping on November 21, an exclusive dinner reception, special collectibles, gifts from H2) Plus and Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, and more. 

All guests will receive a special gift in honor of Disney's contributions to the 50th anniversary of the 1964-65 World's Fair in New York City.

For more event information and tickets, visit the D23 events website. Additional schedule announcements will be made in the coming months.

Tables in Wonderland to hold special Flower & Garden Festival event

Tables in Wonderland members can enjoy a special Epcot Flower & Garden Festival dinner on Saturday, April 19, 2014.  Event tickets cost $101.18 per person, including tax and gratuity. Reservations open at 10:00 a.m. EDT, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. Only 240 seats are available for this Tables In Wonderland members–only event, so book early to attend. For more reservation information, visit the event website.

The exclusive Tables in Wonderland member event schedule offers an evening featuring festival's highlights including:

  • 5:30 p.m.–Outdoor Kitchen themed buffet dinner at East Hall, World ShowPlace Events Pavilion
  • 7:15 p.m.–Move to the America Gardens Theatre
  • 8:00 p.m.–Reserved seats for The Grass roots show at the Flower Power Concert Series

Three food stations will make up the buffet dinner and include:

Station 1

  • Florida Fresh – Watermelon salad with picked onions, BW Farm baby arugula, feta cheese and balsamic reduction
  • Florida Fresh – Shrimp and stone ground grits with andouille sausage, sweet corn, tomatoes and cilantro

Station 2

  • Buttercup Cottage – Field greens with Plant City strawberries, toasted almonds and Farmstead stilton
  • Urban Farms EATS – Land-grown eggplant "scallop" with romesco sauce and spaghetti squash

Station 3

  • The Smokehouse: Barbeque and Brews – Pulled pig slider with cole slaw
  • The Smokehouse: Barbeque and Brews – Smoked beef brisket with collard greens and jalepeño corn bread

Station 4

  • The Smokehouse: Barbeque and Brews – "Piggyliciouos" bacon cupcake with maple frosting and pretzel crunch featuring Nueske’s®  applewood smoked bacon
  • Florida Fresh – Florida kumquat pie
  • Buttercup Cottage – Fresh baked lemon scones with berry preserves and crème fraîche

**Alcoholic and non–alcoholic beverages will be available around the room, featuring select festival beverages

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel presents a PEEPtastic Easter

Easter magic fills the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel from April 16 to 23 during the PEEPtastic Easter celebration around the resort. Throughout the week, the hotel will treat guests to complimentary Peeps marshmallow chicks during check in, the Easter Bunny will make special appearances and even the resort restaurants will spread holiday magic with some Peeps-inspired menu items! 

The Epcot Resort Area hotel's annual glow-in-the-dark Easter egg hunt is also complimentary, with the exception of a small crafts fee. Daily event schedule highlights include:

  • Jumbo Easter egg races
  • Dive for Easter eggs
  • Bunny hop relay
  • Minute-to-Win-it games
  • Water balloon toss and more

A full daily schedule can be found on the Swan and Dolphin's Easter website.

Third annual Easter egg display April 4 – 22 at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Master pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek and the pastry team at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa presents a collection of 18 hand-made, entirely edible Easter Eggs during the hotel's third annual Easter Egg display April 4 through22. 

Each oversized egg is hand-painted with tinted cocoa butter and decorated with a variety of edible accents. They'll be on display in the Main Lobby of the Grand Hotel for everyone to enjoy.


Easter eggs transform into exquisite works of art during the third annual Easter Egg display April 4 through April 22 at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Photo © Disney.

runDisney postpones packet pickup–policy change until November

After we published our park update last week, runDisney announced a change to its policy about packet pick-up. In a previous Walt Disney World update, we shared how runDisney changed its race packet pick-up policy, which forced racers to pick up their own packets; no one else could pick up the materials for a runner.

A number of MousePad members on our Team MousePlanet forum expressed frustration and concern over the in-person policy announcement coming after they had already registered for some races, and it appears runDisney heard complaints from various other venues, as well. In fact, their announcement mentioned listening to feedback specifically as a reason for the latest change.

According the runDisney announcement:

In listening to your feedback after runDisney.com was updated, we understand it has caused travel concerns for some of our upcoming events that were already on sale or sold out.

To help you plan for these upcoming events and address your concerts around travel, we have delayed the implementation of the new policy for events that are already publicly on sale.

The original Packet Pick-Up Policy is in effect for the following events, allowing you to pick up packets for other runners using the appropriate Packet Pick-Up Authorization Form: 

  • Expedition Everest Challenge
  • Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend
  • The Twilight Tower of Terror 10 Miler Weekend
  • Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

The new Packet Pick-Up policy, requiring all runners to pick up their own packets, goes into effect starting with the Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland® Resort in November. This policy will also be in place for all runDisney events moving forward.

For more information on runDisney events and policies, visit their website.

This week at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival

The flowers continue to bloom, delicious aromas fill the air, and retro music can be heard throughout Epcot at this year's Flower & Garden Festival. If you're heading down to the festival to experience the fun and beauty, take along our guide to the scheduled presentations and entertainment offerings.


The Florida Fresh booth at the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival is one of many stops along World Showcase where visitors can stop to enjoy delicious snacks, drinks and/or meals as they take in the festival's sights, shows and attractions. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Tour information:

  • The Gardens of the World Tour –  is a three-hour tour led by a Disney Horticulturist. Theme park admission required and not included. Tickets are $64 per person, plus tax, and guests must be age 16 and up. Call 407-WDW-TOUR to make reservations, or check at Epcot Guest Relations for availability.
  • The English Tea Garden Tour  – is a no-cost 20-minute tour presented by Twinings of London. Sign up at the Tea Caddy. Space is limited.
Activity Time Location

Tuesday, April 1

   

Gardens of the World Tour

9:00 a.m. to noon

Epcot

"Chic Garden Style presented by Season Steib and Eric Williams"

11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m.

Greenhouse Stage

"Gardening for Pollinators presented by Jaret C. Daniels"

Noon., 3:00 p.m.

Design&39;s Stage

"Planting Pointers"

1:00, 4:00 p.m.

Festival Center

English Tea Garden Tour

3:45, 6:15 p.m.

Tea Caddy

Wednesday, April 2    

"Bedding Plants in the Garden presented by Zulma Rosado and Wanda Serrano"

11 a.m.; 3:00 p.m.

Greenhouse Stage

"Up Close and Personal Gardens presented by Shirley Bovshow"

Noon. 3:00 p.m.

Designer's Stage

"Planting Pointers"

1:00, 4:00 p.m.

Festival Center

English Tea Garden Tour

3:45, 6:15 p.m.

Tea Caddy

Thursday, April 3    

Gardens of the World Tour

9:00 a.m. to noon

Epcot

"Getting to the Root of It presented by Cindy Stump"

11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m.

Greenhouse Stage

"Up Close and Personal Gardens presented by Shirley Bovshow"

Noon, 3:00 p.m.

Designer's Stage

"Planting Pointers"

1:00, 4:00 p.m.

Festival Center

English Tea Garden Tour

3:45,  6:15 p.m.

Tea Caddy

Friday, April 4    

Gardens of the World Tour

9:00 a.m. to noon

Epcot

"Disney's Animal Kingdom Specialists"

10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m..

Festival Center

"Understanding your Orchids presented by Rob Williams"

11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m.

Greenhouse Stage

"Up Close and Personal Gardens presented by Shirley Bovshow"

Noon, 3:00 p.m..

Designer's Stagee

"Planting Pointers"

1:00, 4:00 p.m.

Festival Center

Taniya Nayak from House Hunters on Vacation

Noon, 3:00 p.m.

Designer's Stage

English Tea Garden Tour

1:00, 3:45,  6:15 p.m.

Tea Caddy

Flower Power Concert Series: Paul Revere and The Raiders

5:30, 6:45, 8:00 p.m.

American Gardens Theater

Saturday, April 5    

"Disney's Animal Kingdom Specialists"

10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m..

Festival Center

"Unique Tools for the Garden presented by Scott Franklin and Homer Green"

11:00 a.m.; 2:00 p.m.

Greenhouse Stage

"Design Tips to Personalize your Space and Make a Good Room Great presented by Meg Caswell"

Noon, 3:00 p.m..

Designer's Stage

"Planting Pointers"

1:00, 4:00 p.m.

Festival Center

Taniya Nayak from House Hunters on Vacation

Noon, 3:00

Designer's Stage

English Tea Garden Tour

1:00, 3:45, 6:15 p.m.

Tea Caddy

Flower Power Concert Series: Paul Revere and the Raiders

5:30, 6:45, 8:00 p.m.

American Gardens Theater

Sunday, April 6    

"Unique Tools for the Garden presented by Scott Franklin and Homer Green"

11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m.

Greenhouse Stage

"Design Tips to Personalize your Space and Make a Good Room Great presented by Meg Caswell"

Noon, 3:00 p.m..

Designer's Stage

"Planting Pointers"

1:00, 4:00 p.m.

Festival Center

Taniya Nayak from House Hunters on Vacation

Noon, 3:00 p.m.

Designer's Stage

English Tea Garden Tour

1:00, 3:45,  6:15 p.m.

Tea Caddy

Flower Power Concert Series: Paul Revere and the Raiders

5:30, 6:45,  8:00 p.m.

American Gardens Theater

Monday, April 7    

Gardens of the World Tour

9:00 a.m. to noon

Epcot

"Unique Tools for the Garden presented by Scott Franklin and Homer Green"

11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m.

Greenhouse Stage

"Design Tips to Personalize your Space and Make a Good Room Great presented by Meg Caswell"

Noon, 3:00 p.m..

Designer's Stage

"Planting Pointers"

1:00, 4:00 p.m.

Festival Center

English Tea Garden Tour

3:45, 6:15 p.m.

Tea Caddy

Disney Cruise Line announces new cruises for summer 2015

Disney Cruise Line released more of its 2015 itineraries last week, including brand new Northern Europe cruises to the Norwegian fjords, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.

Norwegian Fjords

On seven and nine-night sailings departing from Copenhagen, Disney Cruise Line guests are immersed in the splendor and charm of Norway with exciting new ports, steeped in Viking history. An 11-night sailing on the Disney Magic takes guests to Iceland and the Faroe Islands for the very first time.

The Norwegian fjords served as the inspiration and backdrop for Disney’s blockbuster animated film, “Frozen.” Here, guests will discover breathtaking natural wonders such as magnificent mountain ranges, massive glaciers, steaming geysers and majestic fjords. The enchanting Scandinavian culture of the region comes to life through local attractions, stunning architecture, storybook villages and historic city centers.


NEW Seven-night Norwegian Fjords

Ports: Copenhagen, Denmark; Stavanger, Alesund, Geiranger and Bergen, Norway

Departure date: June 6

NEW Nine-night Norwegian Fjords

Ports: Copenhagen, Denmark; Stavanger, Alesund, Geiranger, Molde, Olden and Bergen, Norway

Departure date: June 20

NEW 11-night Norwegian Fjords and Iceland

Ports: Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo, Kristiansand and Stavanger Norway; Akureyri and Reykjavik (overnight), Iceland; Torshavn, Faroe Islands; Dover, England

Departure date: June 29

Rates start at $1,561 per person for seven-night cruises, $2,133 per person for nine-night cruises and $2,453 per person for 11-night Norwegian fjords cruises for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Northern Europe

On northern European cruises, the Disney Magic will sail the Baltic waters where guests will explore richly diverse cultures and national capitals including Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; Copenhagen, Denmark and St. Petersburg – Russia’s second largest city known as the country’s cultural capital. These itineraries depart from Copenhagen, Denmark and Dover, England – just a quick jaunt from London.

NEW Seven-night Northern European

Ports: Copenhagen, Denmark; Tallinn, Estonia; St. Petersburg, Russia; Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden

Departure dates: May 30, June 13

12-night Northern European

Ports: Dover, England; Copenhagen, Denmark; Warnemunde, Germany (July 10 cruise only); Stockholm, Sweden; Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia; Tallinn, Estonia

Departure dates: July 10 and 22

Rates start at $1,463 per person for seven-night cruises and $2,844 per person for 12-night Northern European cruises for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Mediterranean

The Disney Magic returns to the Mediterranean, treating guests to popular European destinations. Departing from Barcelona, Spain, these sailings take guests on an exciting journey of cultures and locales, with romantic boulevards, iconic locations, mild climates and the brilliant blue Mediterranean Sea.

Five-night Mediterranean

Ports: Barcelona, Spain; Nice (Villefranche), France; Florence (La Spezia) and Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy

Departure date: Aug. 10

Seven-night Mediterranean

Ports: Barcelona, Spain; Naples, Rome (Civitavecchia) and Florence (La Spezia), Italy; Nice (Villefranche), France

Departure dates: Aug. 15, 22 and 29

Rates start at $1,255 per person for five-night cruises and $1,302 per person for seven-night Mediterranean cruises for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Alaska

In 2015, the Disney Wonder will sail seven-night cruises from Vancouver to Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, Alaska.

These cruises combine the grandeur, natural wonder and adventurous spirit of Alaska with the unparalleled, family-friendly experience found on a Disney ship. Disney Cruise Line works closely with Alaskan tour operators to create exclusive-to-Disney family-friendly Port Adventures that allow guests to experience Alaska’s natural beauty and rich history.
Seven-night Alaska:

Ports: Vancouver, Tracy Arm (scenic cruising through fjord), Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan

Departure dates: June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; July 6, 13, 20, 27; Aug. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31

Rates start at $1,155 per person for seven-night Alaska cruises for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

Caribbean and Bahamas

In 2015, Disney Cruise Line will sail from Port Canaveral and Miami to the Caribbean and Bahamas on a variety of itineraries. These cruises include a stop at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

From Port Canaveral, rates start at $495 per person for three-night cruises, $662 per person for four-night cruises, $1,465 per person for five-night cruises and $1,145 per person for seven-night cruises for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

From Miami, rates start at $400 per person for four-night cruises and $500 per person for five-night cruises for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

All pricing reflects a category 11C standard inside stateroom. Government taxes and fees, gratuities and Port Adventures are not included.

Bookings opened to the public on March 27, 2014, and some of the new itineraries have been very popular. To book, call your travel agent or visit the Disney Cruise Line website

Even with this announcement, Disney has only released the schedule through August 2015, leaving open the question of where the four ships will spend the fall and winter of 2015. With two California coastal cruises offered on the Wonder in May 2015, after the ship arrives from Florida via the Panama Canal but before it departs to Alaska for the summer cruise season, Disney may be testing demand for a possible return to the West coast. Hopefully Disney will provide the answer to these questions soon by releasing the rest of the 2015 itinerary.

Quick takes…

...For the busy Spring break period, Disney has resumed daily service on the Resort and Express monorail beam . We expect Disney will revert to the construction schedule in place since January sometime after Easter, but have no firm dates to share.

...Walt Disney World Resort passholders can purchase the commemorative tee shirt designed for this year's Rock Your Disney Side 24-Hour Party in advance of the May event, and have it delivered in time to wear to the overnight party. The shirt is available on the Disney Store website in sizes from XL - 3X, and is priced at $27.95. Enter code PASSTEN to receive a 10% annual passholder discount on the purchase. The shirts are only available through April 3, and Disney says to allow 4-6 weeks for delivery, so it appears they are being printed to demand.

...Are you looking for some new Disney merchandise? Last week, Disney Parks Blog introduced two new items for park visitors to "try on for size": a new line of "Disney Side" workout clothes, including shirts, pants, jackets and even a tote bag that unzips to a workout mat. Also new this week is a merchandise collection commemorating "it's a small world's" 50th anniversary. T-shirts, reusable bags and an exclusive commemorative pin featuring the classic "it's a small world" artwork will be available for purchase at Magic Kingdom's Emporium and Fantasy Faire. As an added bonus, from April 9 through April 13, Disney Parks will donate 100% of sales (excluding sales tax) from these items to UNICEF.

...You can enter to win a trip to the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin by entering the Express Your Peepsonality Sweepstakes. the grand prize is a trip for four to the Swan and Dolphin including airfare, accommodations, round-trip transportation to and from Orlando International Airport and the hotel, four 4-day park hopper tickets and a $200 gift certificate to cover food and other expenses. Visit the Express Your Peepsonality Sweepstakes website for full details on the entry process. Entry deadline is April 30, 2014.

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Crowd Forecast

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"Do more. Wait less."

Crowds should be manageable at most parks but Magic Kingdom will see large crowds on most days. 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 1, 2014 4 / 10
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 5 / 10
Thursday, April 3, 2014 4 / 10
Friday, April 4, 2014 5 / 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!

  • Saturday is the best day to visit the Magic Kingdom.
  • The resort crowd level on Friday 5 out of 10.
  • Following a Touring Plan is important when crowd levels spike at the park you're visiting!

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Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

Resort Events

2014

  • Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival – March 5 through May 18
  • Epcot EGG-stravaganza – April 10–20
  • Easter services at Walt Disney World – Sunday, April 20.  Fantasia Ballroom of Disney's Contemporary Resort.
    • Catholic Mass: 8:00 a.m.
    • Protestant Service: 9:00 a.m.
    • Catholic Mass: 10:15 a.m.
    Parking at the Contemporary Resort will be restricted to guests with hotel reservations only, and all others must take Disney transportation to reach the Contemporary Resort. Guests staying at a hotel on the Monorail line (Grand Floridian or Polynesian Resorts), or who will park at the Transportation and Ticketing center can take the Resort Monorail to the Contemporary Resort. All other resort guests can take a bus from their Walt Disney World hotel to the Magic Kingdom, and from there transfer to a shuttle bus to the Contemporary Resort.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train media event – April 30 through May 2. This may indicate the ride will open to the public May 1 or 2.
  • Expedition Everest Challenge – May 3
  • Perfect Petals Brunch featuring the Disney Collection by Vera Bradley– May 4
  • Star Wars Weekends Rebel Rendezvous – May 15, 2014. Tickets still available via the Disney Parks Merchandise website.
  • Star Wars Weekends
    • Weekend I: May 16–18, 2014
    • Weekend II: May 23–25, 2014
    • Weekend III: May 30 to June 1, 2014
    • Weekend IV: June 6–8, 2014
    • Weekend V: June 13–15, 2014
  • Car Masters Weekend – June 14–15 in Downtown Disney.
  • Disney Trade Celebration Imagination Gala September 5–7 at Epcot
  • Epcot International Food and Wine Festival – September 19 through November 10
  • Disney's Night of Joy 2014 – Friday, September 5 and Saturday, September 6.
  • Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic – October 31 and November 1. Tickets and packages now on sale.
  • Destination D: Attraction Rewind – November 22-23. Details now available on the event website. Registration opens April 16th for D23 Gold and Silver members, and to all others on May 28 if space is still available. The event was originally announced for July 26-27, but was rescheduled.
  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party – 2014 event dates not yet announced.
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party – 2014 event dates not yet announced.

2015

  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 7–11, 2015.
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 19–22, 2015.

runDisney and Disney Sports events

If 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.

2014

2015

  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 7–11, 2015. Registration opens April 22, 2014. No additional details available at this time.
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 19–22, 2015. Registration opens July 15, 2014. No additional details available at this time.

For current information on registration dates and capacity, see Lorree Tachell's runDisney Race Capacity Updates in the Team MousePlanet forum.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Pinocchio Village Haus – closed through March 30 for refurbishment.
  • Swiss Family Treehouse – closed March 17 through 28 for refurbishment.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed April 7–9 for refurbishment.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – closed April 28 through May 1 for refurbishment.
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover – closed May 3 through June 30 for refurbishment.
  • Astro Orbiter – closed May 3 through August 20 for refurbishment.

Epcot

  • No known refurbishments at this time.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • No known refurbishments at this time.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • Festival of the Lion King – closed for move to its new theater, currently under construction. Estimated to be closed until July/August 2014.

Resorts

As reported in July, some refrigerators in non-Disney Vacation Club rooms at Walt Disney World are being replaced due to a product defect. All Walt Disney World Resort rooms with the exception of DVC Villas, the family suites at the Art of Animation and All-Star Movie resorts, and the cabins at Fort Wilderness are impacted. Disney says "the schedule for replacing the refrigerators at these Resorts is expected to last several months."

In the interim, if you have a reservation at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and need a refrigerator for medical reasons, we recommend contacting your resort directly to inquire about availability during your trip. The hotel should be able to arrange for one if your room does not yet have a new refrigerator, but supplies may be limited while they work to replace all of the malfunctioning units.

  • Polynesian – Never Land Club Children's Activity Center closed for refurbishment through January 1, 2015.
  • Polynesian – Refurbishment of the lobby is slated to begin March 14.
  • Polynesian – Captain Cook's closed for refurbishment March 14 through June 14.

Water Parks

  • No known refurbishments at this time.

Elsewhere

  • Disney Osprey Ridge Golf Course – permanently closed to play.
  • Downtown Disney Lots H, I, J, and K (in Westside area) closed until further notice for Disney Springs construction.
  • Downtown Disney Bridge 4 and restrooms on Pleasure Island are temporarily closed for ongoing construction work.
  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Note: MousePlanet does not edit past Updates to reflect price increases; for up-to-date prices, check the most recent Walt Disney World Resort Update. For your convenience, we have grouped the discount offers based on the intended audience. Check out the category that best matches you, and pick the offer that works best for you. And keep those tips coming—let us know if you find a better or different offer, so we can share it with other readers!

Discounts for Everyone

Save up to 35%* on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels

Disney released a number of summer travel discounts covering arrivals between June 15 and August 28, 2014. They are tiered by resort and length of stay, with a 5% bonus for stays of 6 nights or longer

Offer Details:
  • Save from 30 percent (for 1–5 nights) to 35 percent (for 6+ nights) at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Disney's BoardWalk Inn & Villas, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard/pool view rooms), Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Disney's Old Key West Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Disney's Wilderness Lodge (standard/woods view)
  • Save from to 20 percent (for 1–5 nights) to 25 percent (for 6+ nights) at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney's Port Orleans - Riverside,Disney's Fort Wilderness Cabins, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Beach Club Resort Villas, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (savanna/club rooms) & Villas, and Disney's Wilderness Lodge (courtyard/club rooms) & Villas
  • Save up from 15 percent (for 1–5 nights) to 20 percent (for 6+ nights) at Disney's All-Star Sports Resort, Disney's All-Star Music and Disney's Pop Century Resort
  • Save from 10 percent (for 1–5 nights) to 15 percent (for 6+ nights) at Disney's Art of Animation Family Suites

Memory Maker pre-arrival discount

Disney's PhotoPass service provides a discount on Disney Memory Maker pre-arrival packages. For $149 plus tax, Walt Disney World guests will be able to digitally download any photos associated with their Memory Maker account, including photos taken on attractions. The advanced purchase price is a $50 savings. Applicable taxes are charged to all orders.

This special offer is only available from this link, and must be made more than three days prior to arrival at the Walt Disney World Resort. All sales are final, and not eligible for an exchange or refund.


Discounts for Annual Passholders

Room discounts through April 12, 2014

Annual passholders enjoy a discount of up to 37 percent off regular room rates at select Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts March 14–29. Advance reservations required; other discounts available during this time period. Must book before April 12.

As with all discounts, rooms available at these rates are 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 (annual passholder login required).

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World 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).

From March 6–13 (Spring Break travel):

  • Up to 20% off Value Resorts – Disney's All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Pop Century.
  • Up to 25% off Moderate Resorts – Disney's Port Orleans Riverside, Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, the Cabins at Fort Wilderness.
  • Up to 35% off Deluxe Resorts – Disney's Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard or pool view), Contemporary, Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge (standard or woods view).
  • Up to 35% off Disney Vacation Club (Deluxe Villa) Resorts – Disney's Old Key West, BoardWalk Villas, Beach Club Villas, Saratoga Springs

From March 14–29:

  • Up to 25% off Value Resorts – Disney's All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Pop Century.
  • Up to 30% off Moderate Resorts – Disney's Port Orleans Riverside, Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, the Cabins at Fort Wilderness.
  • Up to 37% off Deluxe Resorts – Disney's Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard or pool view), Contemporary, Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge (standard or woods view).
  • Up to 37% off Disney Vacation Club (Deluxe Villa) Resorts – Disney's Old Key West, BoardWalk Villas, Beach Club Villas, Saratoga Springs

Check with a travel agent or Walt Disney World for other rate discounts during this time period.


Discounts for Disney Rewards VISA & Debit Card Holders

Room and ticket discount for travel dates from February 24 through June 15

No discounts available March 6–14 and April 13–19. Buy a minimum four day ticket and get a day free.

Room discounts include:

  • 5% off All Star Movies, Port Orleans French Quarter, Bay Lake Tower, suites at Coronado Springs
  • 15% off Art of Animation family suites
  • 20% off select rooms at Wilderness Lodge & Villas, Contemporary, Grand Floridian and Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas, Beach Club Villas
  • 25% off Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans Riverside, Cabins at Ft. Wilderness
  • 30% off Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, Boardwalk Villas, Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Polynesian Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge

20% off select guided tours

Disney Visa cardholders receive 20% off the non-discounted price of selected guided tours for up to 10 people. The cardholder must participate in the tour, and pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card. Tours included:

  • Magic Kingdom Park
    • Disney's Family Magic Tour
    • Disney's Keys to the Kingdom Tour
    • Disney's The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour
    • Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour
  • Epcot
    • Gardens of the World (offered seasonally)
    • The UnDISCOVERed Future World
    • Disney's Dolphins in Depth
    • Epcot DiveQuest
    • Epcot Seas Aqua Tours
    • Epcot Behind the Seeds (15% discount)
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
    • Wild by Design
    • Backstage Safari
  • Multiple Theme Parks and Backstage Areas
    • Backstage Magic
    • Disney's Holiday D-Lights (offered seasonally)
    • Disney's Yuletide Fantasy (offered seasonally)

10% off select restaurants

Disney Visa cardholders receive 10% off the check when you pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card (be sure to request the discount). Discount excludes alcohol.

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge – Sanaa (Lunch)
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort – The Wave (Breakfast and Lunch)
  • Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – Trail's End Restaurant (Breakfast and Lunch)
  • Disney's Old Key West Resort – Olivia's Café (Breakfast and Lunch)
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Turf Club (Lunch)
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge – Whispering Canyon Café (Lunch)
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort – Captain's Grill (Breakfast and Lunch)

10% off merchandise

Disney Visa cardholders receive 10% off at participating Disney-owned retail location when you spend a minimum of $50 and pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card (be sure to request the discount). Read all of the restrictions on the Disney Visa website.


Free 5x7 character photo at a private meet and greet location at Epcot

Present your Disney's Premier Visa Card or Disney Rewards Visa Card for access to a private character meet and greet at Epcot for the cardholder and up to 5 guests. The event is hosted daily from 1pm - 7pm inside Innoventions West at Epcot. You'll receive one free 5 x 7 character photo per day.


Discounts for Florida Residents

Room discounts through June 2, 2014--NEW!

Florida residents have a new room discount valid for travel dates from April 27 through June 2.

Every hotel is included and the specific discounts are not listed – each guest has to call or go online to see availability and pricing. There is no set percentage discount.

An example of savings available:

  • Value resorts are $82/night plus tax for Sunday-Thursday stays and $101 per night plus tax for Friday and Saturday stays
  • Deluxe resorts range from $225-$240 per night plus tax on Sunday-Thursday, and $240-$248 per night, plus tax for Friday and Saturday stays

As with all discounts, rooms available at these rates are limited, and minimum length-of-stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. No group rates or other discounts apply. Offer excludes campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms and The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World 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 U.K. Residents

2014 Free Dining offer for U.K. residents

2014 Free Dining offers for U.K. 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 U.K. residents only.




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


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