Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update for March 23 – March 29, 2009
Go directly to: News & Views | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions
Flower & Garden | Cat Cora | Party dates | Magical Express | Elephant death | Construction update | Quick Takes …
More MouseAdventure Walt Disney World details released!
Pack your bags and grab your mouse ears—MouseAdventure is headed to Florida for our Inaugural Walt Disney World MouseAdventure event on Saturday, November 14.
The day will begin before park opening with breakfast at the Odyssey Center in Epcot Theme Park. After breakfast and a brief event orientation, the game is on! This event features a mix of two of our popular formats. Teams first complete a series of classic MouseAdventure quests in Future World, then embark on an Enchanted Race around World Showcase to reach the finish line.
Results will be announced at an in-park meet on Sunday, November 15th, and will be posted on MousePlanet.com later that week.
Don't miss your chance to be one of the first MouseAdventurers to race around Epcot. Space is limited, so form your teams and get ready for registration to open on Friday April 3 at 8:00 a.m. (PST).
Pricing for this event is $175 for a 2-player team plus $30 for each additional player (up to a total of 4 players per team).
Your registration fee includes an early morning escort to Odyssey Center, breakfast for each member of your team, and a fantastic, fun-filled 6-hour game. Registration does not include park admission. (Only admission for Walt Disney World’s Epcot Theme Park will be required)
Don't forget to sign up for the MouseAdventure Newsletter, which will keep you informed as the MouseAdventure on the High Seas cruise and other details are announced!
This year's Flower & Garden Festival is being presented by Disneynature's Earth movie, which is represented by this sand sculpture. Disneynature will be donating a tree for each person who sees Earth in its first week of release. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Tinker Bell opens the Festival with a burst of Pixie dust. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
A "Cinderellabration" topiary welcomes guests to Epcot. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The entry plaza topiary includes Cinderella and her prince (front center), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (near side), Beauty and the Beast (far side front), and Sleeping Beauty and Prince Philip (far side rear). Photo by Bruce Danderline.
MousePlanet's Jeff Kober was at the opening of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival with photographer Bruce Danderline. Bruce's photos of the event will be throughout the Update. Here's Jeff's take on this year's Festival:
Five Great Reasons to See Epcot's Flower & Garden Festival in '09
by J. Jeff Kober
Even living in ever sunny Florida, I look forward to Spring. And I celebrate its commencement with the annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Organizers are challenged each year to create an event that keeps the very best of year's past, while trying to do new things. Let me outline five not-to-miss highlights of the festival:
1. Topiaries. If you love topiaries, you'll love this festival, because there are more Disney topiaries than ever. For me, I grew up with the topiaries that marked the entrance to "It's a Small World" in Disneyland, California. These will not disappoint. My favorite was the addition of Princess Aurora and Prince Philip at the entrance to the park. Visit the information desk behind Earth Station and receive a scavenger hunt discovery sheet leading you to all the different topiaries. There are over 50 Disney topiaries.
2. Sand Sculpture Art. I love these as I've encountered them at Sea World and Disney's California Adventure. But there's a terrific one here which commemorates Disneynature Earth, which appears in theaters Earth Day, April 22. My only disappointment was that there wasn't a sand play area for the kids. Still, take a peek, it's between the fountain and Mouse Gear. There's a Kidcot style station there focused on gardening. I believe if you go around to the different stations dedicated to this festival you will get the materials sufficient to grow a tiny garden. This spot offered planting cups to decorate.
3. Pixie Hollow & Fairy Garden. A new addition celebrating the fairies from Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasures. It's perfect for that 2-5 year old, or anyone who is just really into Tink. My favorite part were the small organic homes of each of the fairies that looked like they belonged in Storybook Land back at The Happiest Place on Earth. I've heard that the queue to see the fairies at The Magic Kingdom is quite long during the day, so your best choice when visiting Walt Disney World might be to see the Fairy & Princess Procession that occurs each day at 2:00 pm here at the garden.
4. Playgrounds. Okay that's nothing new, but there are more of them and they are all strategically placed around Epcot. Beyond Pixie Hollow & Fairy Garden, which is located between Test Track and Mouse Gear, there is another located on the other side of Future World near Imagination called "Let's Get Moving." This playground emphasizes Mickey and the gang engaged in outdoor activity. It even offers some cool outdoor gym exercise equipment. Still another playground can be found next to Germany that carries a pirate theme, and finally a minor playground that makes up part of Green Town. All are placed like dangling carrots at the end of the road so you can get your child through the entire festival.
5. Living with the Land. Unbelievably, this opening-day attraction at Epcot isn't even found in the map section. But it's still one of the best attractions for horticulture enthusiasts. They've added a new addition at the end of the boat ride, in an exhibit where Tilapia fish are integrated into a system where their fish waste becomes fertilizer for the plants. Very cool. I keep thinking the work at The Seas and The Land is probably the most relevant and most unappreciated work going on at Epcot. Take the Behind the Seeds tour if you haven't already. It's worth checking out.
These five reasons plus more flowers than you've ever seen is reason enough to come celebrate Spring at Epcot's International Flower & Garden Show.
A Tinker Bell topiary welcomes all to the Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The topiary of Fawn, the animal fairy, has two-dimensional animal figures nearby. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The topiary of Silvermist, the water fairy, is surrounded by pools. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Iridessa, the light fairy, has a bright home in Pixie Hollow. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Rosetta, the garden fairy, is surrounded by flowers. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The Pixie Hollow playgrouind is suitable for small children. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Celebrity Chef Cat Cora is opening a brand-new family dining restaurant in the location currently occupied by Spoodles. Kouzzina by Cat Cora is scheduled to open by fall.
The restaurant will feature Mediterranean-style cuisine honoring Cora's Greek roots, while also reflecting her philosophy of creating simple yet sensational meals. Kouzzina (Greek for "kitchen"), said Cora, will feature "time-honored recipes passed down from my ancestors, as well as my favorite Greek and Mediterranean dishes that my family loves."
"I am pleased to welcome Cat Cora and her engaging new concept for Kouzzina to the Walt Disney World Resort," said Jay Rasulo, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "This collaboration between Cat and Disney represents a significant step in our ongoing commitment to offer unique culinary experiences and choices for our guests."
The restaurant will be owned and operated by Disney.
The Pirates Adventure Zone features Captain Hook and the crocodile. The nautical flags extending off to the right spell out "TicTocCroc." Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The construction walls have finally come down around the Fountain of Nations. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Tickets go on sale May 1 (as always) for this fall's Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party hard-ticketed events at the Magic Kingdom.
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party will be held on 23 nights from mid-September through Halloween night (down from 25 nights last year), running September 4, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29, October 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 29, 31 and November 1. The September 4 start date is the earliest ever, a night earlier than last year. The new, early dates have been facilitated by the move of the Night of Joy event to Disney's Hollywood Studios last year. Tickets prices are not yet available, though it's likely that there will be some advance purchase, Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club discounts for selected nights. It's also a good bet that prices will be higher than last year.
Note: The third annual Tower of Terror 13K race is on October 24, which is the last weekend before Halloween. Although tickets for the party are historically very popular for Halloween night itself, expect tickets for that weekend (October 23 and 25) to be particularly popular among those who plan to go to Walt Disney World for the race at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Also look for higher attendance on October 9 and 12, as the Race for the Taste takes place on October 11.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party will be held on 18 nights from mid-November to late December (the same as last year), running November 10, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 29, December 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18. As with the tickets for the Halloween Party, prices are not yet available, but there will likely be some discounts for selected nights. A price increase here is also likely.
The parterre near Minnie's Magnificent Butterfly Garden is now in full bloom. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The parterre on the west side is also impressive. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
You can get your festival posters signed by the artist here at the Canada Retreat. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Last week, the Greater Orlando Airport Authority approved a deal with Walt Disney World to extend the deal for Disney's Magical Express through December 31, 2016. Disney will have an option to extend an additional 5 years by providing notice no later than June 30, 2016. The free bus-and-luggage transportation service takes Walt Disney World guests directly from Orlando International Airport to their Disney resort without any need to visit the baggage carousel or to get a rental car.
The deal extends the current agreement—scheduled to expire on December 31, 2011—and locks and/or changes some numbers in the current deal. The current cost to Disney of 75 cents per deplaning passenger has been locked in. Previously, the airport had held the option to as much as double the amount based on financial analyses to be done. However, if Disney extends the deal, the airport will have the option to increase the fee at that time.
The existing cut-off of 2.2 million passengers in a rolling 12-month period before Disney would need to open a second location in the terminal has been increased to 2.5 million passengers. Disney was just under that number this year. The agreement also continues the stipulation that the service be exclusive to Orlando International Airport for a range of 100 mile radius.
The Green Garden Playground between France and Morocco features a giant Habitrail for kids. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The bromeliad dragon has once again returned to China. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Lady and the Tramp are stationed in Italy, presumably because they went out for Italian food one night. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Last Tuesday, Disney's Animal Kingdom suffered the loss of a 24-year-old African elephant after a brief illness.
Tumpe, a female that had arrived at the park in 2007 from a zoo in Columbia, South Carolina, had been sick for two months with skin sores and gastrointestinal problems. While a complete pathology report will not be in for a few weeks, it is believed that the rest of the herd is not at risk.
Tumpe is the third elephant to die at the park, the first not related to childbirth. In 2005, a female named Ibala lost her newborn calf at birth, and later died herself from an infection related to the birth.
Twelve elephants remain at the park.
Exterior work is nearly done on the tech bunker for Stitch's Supersonic Celebration. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Work continues on the Stitch stage. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Exterior work continues outside Star Traders. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Help us keep our menu listings up to date!
Did you know that MousePlanet now has menu listings (link) for all theme park restaurants at Walt Disney World and many resort restaurants? You can help us keep them up to date! Send your photos, scans or other copies of restaurant menus (no fair copying from other Web sites) to email@example.com (link).
I was informed recently that I was the top walker for the March of Dimes Northeastern New York region for 2008, and the #2 walker for all of Upstate New York (everything above Westchester and Rockland counties)! I couldn't have done it without the help of all of the wonderful MousePlanet readers and MouseStation listeners. Thank you so much! Now, the big challenge is to raise the bar in these tough economic times.
On April 26, I'll be walking for the fourth time to raise money for the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. I'm raising money for the cause because new parents should be able to bring their children home from the hospital, not bury them. I know from first-hand experience how devastating that is.
Last year's total, raised through the generosity of friends, family, co-workers and MousePlanet readers, was $5,043.42. This year, our new target is $6,000. I think we can do that. I know that the economy is tough right now, but charitable causes are also hurting and in need of money.
We're over one-third of the way there, but we've only got six weeks to make up the rest. Let's show that MousePlanet readers support the mission of the March of Dimes and help give all babies a fighting chance to make it home!
For more information about why I'm walking, or to donate, please go to my fundraising page (link). Thanks for your consideration!
The rocks at the entrance to Tomorrowland are getting a new paint job. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe in Liberty Square is having some facade work done on the back side of the store. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
- Magic Kingdom – SMR (Space Mountain Refurbishment?) rigging package.
- Magic Kingdom Adventureland House of Treasures – construction of addition includes demolition of existing plaster arches, columns and ceiling; demolition of stone flooring; and demolition of existing wood beams as needed for integration of the new walls. Relocation of fire sprinklers as required. Installation of new plaster wall assemblies as designed. Modification of HVAC system as designed. Installation of conduits and cable for power connections and conduits for data, phone and audio cables. Themed painting and plastering of new and existing wall surfaces.
- Epcot Innoventions – installation of T. Rowe Price marquee package.
- Epcot Monorail queue building #5B – installation of retaining wall and curb.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Narnia Meet & Greet – provision of power for new monitor.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Toy Story Mania – installation of dry goods flat package.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios – installation of San Francisco Street mural package.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Island Mercantile – replacement of the existing planter marquee.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Maharajah Jungle Trek – construction of a vestibule with two doors, similar to an adjacent vestibule for keeper access to the tiger exhibit.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Asia pretzel cart – removal of existing kitchen equipment, installation of new kitchen equipment, installation of two sprinkler heads, installation of new counter top.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest – installation of guardrail at queue line.
- Typhoon Lagoon Crush 'n' Gusher – modification of boiler plumbing.
- Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex – clearance, grubbing, filling, stabilization, compacttion and sodding of the designated area "Phase 1 Back of House Grass Parking Area."
- Grand Floridian Resort monorail west rectifier building – installation of trench drainage system.
- Contemporary Resort – installation of trench drainage system.
- Contemporary Resort Convention Center – installation of cart stop railing.
- Beach Club Villas – fixing of leak and repiping of heat exchanger.
- Coronado Springs Resort – replacement of all existing DHW supply and returning of copper piping above Pepper Market and the kitchen ceilings.
…Disney Legend Dorothea Redmond died February 27 of congestive heart failure at age 98. Following an amazing career in film, including working on Gone With the Wind, The Ten Commandments and many Alfred Hitchcock films, and many years at an architectural firm, Redmond joined WED Enterprises (now known as Walt Disney Imagineering). While at Disney, Redmond designed the Disney family's suite above Pirates of the Caribbean (that was never completed and finally recently become the Suite of Dreams). She was also noted for having created the art from which a muralist assembled the mosaics inside Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. George McGinnis once described her to me as the real "painter of light." Instead of flowers, the family suggests donating to the Motion Picture & Television Fund (link).
…A new shop at Downtown Disney Marketplace, Tren-D, has replaced Summer Sands. The location features an eclectic mix of vintage and "hip" merchandise with stylized Disney influences. The product line includes everything from organic loungewear to embroidered handbags, jeweled sunglasses to trendy accessories. Some have compared it to Vault 28 at the Disneyland Resort's Downtown Disney.
…2010 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend events continue to fill up – Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is now sold out, while the Half Marathon is still at 70 percent full. If you want to run these races, sign up now (link)!
…The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is promoting a tie in to Disney's "free admission on your birthday" offer. With a minimum three-night stay, you get a complimentary room on your birthday, as well as a complimentary birthday cake if you dine in bluezoo, Shula's Steak House or Il Mulino New York Trattoria. For more information check the Swan and Dolphin's Web site (link).
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- Feb. 15-Mar. 30. Atlanta Braves Training Camp.
- Mar. 18-May 31. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (link).
- Apr. 24-27. USASF/IASF Dance and Cheerleading World Championships (link).
- May 17. Florida Half Ironman Triathlon (link).
- May 22-Jun. 14. Star Wars Weekends.
- Sep. 20. Athletes for a Cure Triathlon (link).
- Sep. 26. Expedition Everest Challenge (link).
- Oct. 11. Race for the Taste 10K and 3K (link).
- Oct 24. Tower of Terror 13K and 5K (link).
- Dec. 7-12. Pop Warner Super Bowl (link).
- Jan. 7-10, 2010. WDW Marathon Weekend (link).
- The Hall of Presidents – closed through July 1, 2009, major infrastructure upgrades, as well as for addition of President Barack Obama.
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority – closed April 19 through August 19, 2009 for refurbishment and Space Mountain's refurbishment.
- Space Mountain – closed April 19 through November 21, 2009 for major refurbishment.
- Tutto Italia Ristorante – is now open, but will close at a date to be determined to be completely remodeled.
- Ellen's Energy Adventure – closed for refurbishment January 5 – March 25.
- The Wonders of Life pavilion – has again closed as such, and most likely will only be used as a Festival Center until a new sponsor is found.
- No currently scheduled refurbishments.
- No currently scheduled refurbishments.
- Animal Kingdom Lodge – Phase 1 of the Kidani Village annex building for the Disney Vacation Club's Animal Kingdom Villas is expected to open in May 2009, with Phase 2 opening in September 2009. Jambo House construction is complete.
- Yacht and Beach Club Resorts – Stormalong Bay pool area under refurbishment January 5 – mid-April. The pool will remain open, but sections will close one at a time for work. The three quiet pools will remain open during that time, and the Luna Park pool at the BoardWalk Resort, with its Keister Coaster water slide, will also be available during the work on the Flying Jib slide.
- Saratoga Springs – High Rock Spring feature pool under refurbishment from March 9–30.
- Bay Lake Tower at Contemporary Resort – Construction continues. The resort opens August 2009.
- Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Construction continues. The resort opens June 2009.
- Typhoon Lagoon – Closed for its annual refurbishment October 26 through March 21. Major work is required on the wave generation machine.
- Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays. There will be no performances from May 18 through June 1.
Walt Disney World Buy 4, Get 3 Free deal!
From now until March 29, if you book a four-night, four-day non-discounted Magic Your Way package, you'll get three additional nights (including tickets) for free.
The offer is good for stays on most nights now-April 4 and April 19-August 15, 2009.
As a bonus, if you travel by March 29, you'll get a $200 Disney Gift Card that you can use to pay some of the costs during your stay. It's also valid at Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Store and disneyshopping.com.
Packages start at net prices of $53 per person per day for a family of four in a standard room at a Value Resort from February 13-April 4 (total package price $1,466). That price is based on families of two adults, one junior and one child.
Packages for other resorts and lengths of stay are also available.
Here's Disney's rundown on pricing and savings:
|Disney Value Resorts||Disney Moderate Resorts||Select Disney Deluxe Resorts||Select Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts|
|$1,466 ($484 savings)
Feb. 13-April 4, 2009
|$1,778 ($718 savings)
Feb. 13-April 4, 2009
|$2,498 ($1,281 savings)
Feb. 13-April 4, 2009
|$2,611 ($1,320 savings)
Feb. 16- April 4, 2009
|$1,375 ($416 savings)
April 19-May 21, 2009
|$1,666 ($634 savings)
April 19-May 21, 2009
|$2,206 ($1,017 savings)
April 19-May 21, 2009
|$2,363 ($1,135 savings)
April 19- May 21, 2009
|$1,421 ($450 savings)
May 22 –June 27, 2009
|$1,733 ($685 savings)
May 22-June 27, 2009
|$2,206 ($1,017 savings)
May 22-May 25, 2009
June 2-June 27, 2009
|$2,363 ($1,135 savings)
May 22 –June 27, 2009
Prices are based on two adults, one junior (ages 10 to 17) and one child (ages 3 to 9) in a standard room at a Value Resort, Moderate Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (Deluxe Resort) or a studio at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (Deluxe Villa Resort). Savings are based on the non-discounted price of a 7-night/7-day Magic Your Way package. The discount code for this offer is IUZ.
To book these packages, go to the Walt Disney World Web site (link), call 407-939-7928 or contact one of MousePlanet's Preferred Disney Travel Providers, Small World Vacations (link) and MouseEarVacations.com (link). Just remember to book by March 29!
Disney Cruise Line offers "Kids at Half Off" deal
Disney Cruise Line now offering a "Kids at Half Off" promotion. The deal offers 50 percent off passage (plus government taxes and fees) for children ages 12 and under on three-night voyages when traveling with two full-fare paying passengers in the same cabin. The offer is valid on most sailings from April 11 through May 17 in a variety of stateroom cabins.
To book your "Kids Half Off" cruise, visit the Disney Cruise Line Web site (link), call 800-951-3532, or contact one of MousePlanet's Preferred Disney Travel Providers, MouseEarVacations.com (link) or Small World Vacations (link) and make sure to use booking code "KHO." For more information on other discounted cruises from MouseEarVacations.com, check out their list of cruise discounts for MousePlanet readers here on the MousePlanet site.
Gaylord Palms debuts new exclusive rate specials
While the special $119-per-night offer expired last Tuesday, MousePlanet partner Gaylord Palms Resort has followed it up with another great offer, this time valid for stays through the end of the year! For approximately 5 nights out of every 7 for the rest of the year, you can stay at the Gaylord Palms at the special MousePlanet reader discount rate (Reserve now!) of $129 per night. Even better, you can book these rates right up until the day you arrive! This new rate is even lower than Disney moderate resorts after June 6! Why stay off property? Because you can get luxury accommodations at moderate prices! These special low rates are available on the following nights:
- March 11, 15–17, 21-29
- April 1–13, 18–19, 24–27
- May 10-11, 15–27
- June 2–6, 9-17, 20–23, 28-30 ($139 rate)
- July 1-6 ($139 rate), 7–18, 23–28
- August 1–9, 13–15, 18–19, 22–27, 30
- September 1-2, 6–8, 12–14, 18–20, 25–27
- October 2–5, 13–18, 23–24, 29–31
- November 3, 7, 12–15, 22-30
- December 1-5, 9, 13–27
Discounted ECV rentals for MousePlanet readers through Scooter Vacations
Scooter Vacations, MousePlanet's mobility scooter rental partner, is offering MousePlanet readers a 10 percent discount on their scooter rentals by using code MP10 when making your reservation for any of their five scooter models.
Orlando Fun Tickets offering 5 days for the price of 3
For a limited time, MousePlanet discount ticket partner Orlando Fun Tickets is currently offering a free upgrade to a 5-day Park Hopper pass when you purchase a 3-day Park Hopper. Check out the special offer or any of the other great prices on tickets at OrlandoFunTickets.com!
Passholder rates for 2009 released
Passholder rates for February 15 – April 2, 2009 have been released, with value resorts starting at just $69 per night, moderate resorts starting at $114 per night. Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge) starting at $214 per night and studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa starting at $229 per night. The rates are valid most Sunday – Thursday nights during that period.
The number of rooms available is limited and minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday and Saturday arrivals. Reservations may be booked through the Passholder web site or by using code PYS if booking via the Passholder phone line (407-939-7722) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
Disney Cruise Line half-price deposits for online reservations, for a limited time
The Disney Cruise Line has announced a special deal where any bookings through the Disney Cruise web site (link) will only require payment of half of the usual deposit, with the other half due with the rest of the final payment. The offer is only good on new bookings, and for category 4-12 cabins only. The offer is available to those booking online or through their travel agents (though the travel agent would have to book the cruise through disneycruise.com for the offer). Bookings are also eligible for the standard $25 onboard credit offer for all online bookings. The deal is available "for a limited time," but there's no word on when the limited time expires. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).