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Update for September 6 – September 11, 2011

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News and Views

Superstructure assembly of Disney Fantasy is completed | La Nouba price hike | Meet Mark this fall in Florida! | Work on Grand Floridian Villas evicts weddings from Disney Wedding Pavilion | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Superstructure assembly of Disney Fantasy is completed

The final 265-ton piece of the superstructure for the Disney Fantasy cruise ship was placed and attached to the rest of the ship on Saturday, as the construction of the building blocks into an ocean liner was completed. Work now turns to exterior finish work and interior fittings. There is much more work to be done before the ship can be floated out of the Meyer-Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany and down the Ems River to the North Sea and its next port of call in Eemshaven, The Netherlands, where additional work will be performed before the ship undergoes sea trials. After a final fitting-out and stocking-up back in Eemshaven, the Fantasy will finally make its way across the Atlantic Ocean to Port Canaveral, where its maiden voyage is scheduled for March 31, 2012.


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While many features of the Fantasy will be the same as on board its sister ship, the Disney Dream, there will be some changes. A Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique will be part of the ship's commercial area, allowing guests to get princess (or—on pirate nights—pirate) makeovers. The nightclub area—known as The District on board the Dream—will become Europe, with European-themed clubs. The Crush-themed show at the Animator's Palate restaurant will be replaced with an "Animation Magic" show. A version of "Disney's Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular" from Disney California Adventure will be re-created on board the Fantasy.

The Fantasy will sail seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, each with stops at Castaway Cay.

La Nouba price hike

Our partners over at TouringPlans.com are reporting that ticket prices for Cirque du Soleil La Nouba are increasing as of today for shows starting September 27.

New prices are increasing $2 to $4 plus tax per adult and $1 to $3 plus tax per child ages 3 to 9. New prices are as per the table below:

category adult price age 10 and up child price ages 3-9)
Front and Center $128 plus tax $102 plus tax
1 $113 plus tax $89 plus tax
2 $89 plus tax $72 plus tax
3 $73 plus tax $58 plus tax

Tickets can be purchased for up to 6 months in advance via the Cirque du Soleil website.

Meet Mark this fall in Florida!

Do you want a chance to meet Walt Disney World Resort Update editor Mark Goldhaber? There's a fun event coming to Walt Disney World this fall. Join Mark on Sunday, November 13, at 4 p.m. through park closing for the Big Bad Voodoo Food-Do To-Do.

We'll wander the last day of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, sampling cuisines from around the world, taking pauses to watch each of the three performances by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (one of Mark's favorite groups) at 5:15, 6:30, and 7:45 p.m. on the final day of the Eat to the Beat concert series. After the last performance, we'll get one last snack, secure some international desserts, and then find a place to enjoy the evening's performance of Illuminations.

You can RSVP on Plancast, or by email. You can also just show up, but if Mark can snag some swag from the MouseAdventure goodie bag, he'll want to have enough for you! We'll select a starting point for our adventure in another month or so, so watch the Plancast plan or this page for that information. You can also follow @MPMark on Twitter for updates on November 13 if you want to join the group later on in the day.

Calling all with a spirit of adventure!

Are you ready for MouseAdventure: World Explorers III? The third iteration of the scavenger hunt/puzzle quest/race through Walt Disney World's parks takes place on Saturday, November 12 at Disney's Hollywood Studios (the game has been going on at the parks of the Disneyland Resort for more than 10 years now). Do you think that you know Disney's Hollywood Studios? We bet you don't know them as well as you think you do. Test your wits against those of our puzzle masters. For more information, check out the MouseAdventure information page and sign up now.

Work on Grand Floridian Villas evicts weddings from Disney Wedding Pavilion

We've begun to see reports of Disney Weddings contacting brides about the Wedding Pavilion near the Grand Floridian being closed due to the construction work on the Grand Floridian Villas (which still have not been announced). Dredging work will be starting in a couple of weeks to build out the shoreline for the new building's foundation, and that will interfere with weddings at the pavilion. Weddings scheduled within the next month will be the first to be moved, and accommodations will be made for couples having their weddings relocated. If you've had your wedding moved, we'd be interested to hear if and how you've been notified, and what sort of accommodations you received in exchange for the change of venue.

Send us your menu photos

Click on the "Dining" section from our Walt Disney World Guide to see our complete list of of the park restaurant menus from Walt Disney World. Please help us keep the menus up to date! Send photos or scans of park menus to menus@mouseplanet.com to help us keep our listings updated.

Construction update

Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:

  • Magic Kingdom Main Street U.S.A. First Aid – mechanical.
  • Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion stairs – general construction.
  • Magic Kingdom "it's a small world" stairs – general construction.
  • Epcot Futureworld – electrical cable installations.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Great Movie Ride – lighting upgrade electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios MuppetVision 3-D – CO2 piping replacement electrical.
  • Downtown Disney West Side DisneyQuest – electrical.
  • Downtown Disney West Side Splitsville – temporary barriers / interior buildout.
  • Golf course maintenance building – general construction.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa building 5 & 7 guest rooms – electrical work.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa lobby – electrical.
  • Contemporary Resort Tower 3rd floor south – electrical.
  • Wilderness Lodge lobby – electrical.
  • Boardwalk Resort Flying Fish Cafe – mechanical.
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House front desk – carpentry, electrical and mechanical.
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House front desk – electrical.
  • Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter Resorts lobby – electrical.
  • Pop Century Resort Classics Hall and all guest room buildings – electrical.

Quick takes …

…The Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue has replaced two of the songs within the show due to copyright issues, including the Hoop-Dee-Doo Polka.

…Aulani – A Disney Resort and Spa opened to guests last week in Ko Olina, on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. The combined Disney Vacation Club and standard resort will have its official grand opening in September.

…The Night of Joy Christian music festival will be held this Friday and Saturday night at the Magic Kingdom after park closing. There are still tickets available for the event.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party begins next Tuesday night. The hard-ticketed event allows guests to dress up and have the unique experience of trick-or-treating in the Magic Kingdom.

…The new elephant calf born at Disney's Animal Kingdom now has a name. The young offspring of Vasha will be called Jabali, which is Swahili for "strong as a rock." Born at 311 pounds, Vasha's second calf is already making progress and bonding with both his 25-year-old mother and his 7-year-old sister Kianga. He'll start integrating into the herd over the next several weeks, and then will start appearing out on the savannah of Kilimanjaro Safaris.

…Don't forget, the application period for the 2012 Disney World Moms Panel opens next Monday, September 12, at 9 a.m. EDT. Applications close a minute before midnight on September 16. More information is available at the Disney World Moms website.

…Registration for the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon (scheduled for the weekend of February 24 to 26, 2012) is now open.

…Registration is now open for all races during the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend of October 1. Sign up now for the Disney Halloween 5K. Registration for the individual half marathon, the half marathon relay, and the kids races are now full. The 5K is 75 percent full.

…Registration for the events for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012 (on the weekend of January 7) is now open. Note: Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is now 84 percent full. The Marathon is 66 percent full, the Marathon Relay is 51 percent full, the Half Marathon is 62 percent full, and the Family Fun Run 5K is 52 percent full..

Crowd update

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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."

Crowds stay light this week, as vacation and "tour group" season is basically over, but "free dining" season is in full swing! This week will still be busy, and it's still very important to have a good strategy for avoiding crowds! 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
Monday, September 5, 2011 6 / 10
Tuesday, September 6, 2011 3 / 10
Wednesday, September 7, 2011 4 / 10
Thursday, September 8, 2011 4 / 10

Crowds will be moderately high at the beginning of this week, but expect lighter crowds towards the weekend. 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!

  • Disney's Hollywood Studios is our Park to Avoid every day except Wednesday this week.
  • Resort-wide crowd levels will be a 4 on Saturday--not bad for a holiday weekend!
  • Magic Kingdom is one of the Best Parks Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday.

See Disney World crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disney World wait times on your iPhone, Android or smartphone.
Do more. Wait less.

 

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Coming up


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Mickey's Toontown Fair – closed permanently to make way for Fantasyland expansion.
  • Main Street Fire House – closed since July 10, to reopen as headquarters for the new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game. No date yet announced.
  • Fronterland Shootin' Arcade – closed for refurbishment through September 30.
  • The Lunching Pad – closed for refurbishment August 29 to September 16.
  • Casey's Corner – closed for refurbishment August 30 to September 14.
  • Swiss Family Treehouse – closed for refurbishment September 8 to November 17.

Epcot

  • Yakitori House – closed August 10 through November 15 for major refurbishment. Some of the restaurant's menu will be available for the entire length of the refurbishment from Japan's Food & Wine Festival kiosk, located on World Showcase Promenade.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Catalina Eddie's – closed for refurbishment September 6–9.
  • Studios Catering Company – closed for refurbishment September 7.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – closed for refurbishment September 4–24.
  • Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment September 6–24.
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show – closed for refurbishment October 3–6.
  • Fantasmic – will not be performed January 5 through February 12, 2012.

Animal Kingdom

  • Flights of Wonder – closed for refurbishment through September 11.
  • Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment through September 14.
  • It's Tough to be a Bug! – closed for refurbishment August 15 to September 30.

Resorts

  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Club Concierge carpet replacement September 13–16.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – closed from September 19 – mid-2013 for refurbishment.
  • Polynesian Resort – beach sand renourishment through September 16.
  • Wilderness Lodge – villas walkway – cedar shake roof repairs September 12 through November 8.
  • Yacht & Beach Club – building exterior repair / refinishing through September 30.
  • Old Key West Resort – roadway repaving throughout the resort through September 12.
  • Old Key West Resort – Olivia's building metal roof repairs through September 23.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort villa buildings exterior refurbishment from August 23 through summer 2012. Cleaning and painting will be done Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., one villa at a time.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Magnolia Bend leisure pool near buildings 80/85 – closed for refurbishment September 5 to October 7.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Magnolia Band leisure pool near buildings 90/95 – restroom refurbishment October 25 – November 11.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou guilding 36 – building and room refurbishment.
  • Port Orleans Riverside – building 80 parking lot resurfacing September 12–16.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter – lodge buildings brick facade corrections through September 30.
  • Coronado Springs Resort – El Centro and Casitas – roof repairs through October 14.
  • Coronado Springs Resort – El Centro – front desk area wood flooring replacement.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – Barbados Village lodge buildings exterior repair/repainting through September 23.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – front entrance path of travel and traffic flow changes September 13–30.
  • Pop Century Resort – repairs of concrete deck at Hippy Dippy Pool October 4 through September 28, 2012. The pool will remain open during the work, but some small sections of the pool deck will be closed periodically throughout this period.

Water Parks

  • Blizzard Beach – closed for annual refurbishment October 30 to December 3.
  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed for annual refurbishment December 4 to March 17, 2012.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. The show will not be performed:
    • September 20-24, 2011
    • November 22, 2011
    • January 17-21, 2012
    • March 20, 2012
    • May 15-26, 2012
    • July 24, 2012
    • September 18-22, 2012
    • November 27, 2012
  • Cirque du Soleil exterior restrooms – closed September 14–28 for refurbishment.
  • Oak Trail Golf Course – closed September 6–11 for aerification.
  • Magnolia Golf Course – closed Tuesdays September 6–27 for maintenance (except September 13) for maintenance.
  • Palm Golf Course – closed Wednesdays September 7–28 (except September 21) for maintenance.
  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed Thursdays September 8 – October 6 for maintenance.
  • Osprey Ridge Golf Couse – closed Mondays September 12 – October 3 maintenance.
  • Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses – closed October 10–23 for Children's Miracle Network Classic.
  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed October 24 – November 3 for overseeding.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Free dining through late September

Disney announced a two-tiered free dining package for Disney Visa Rewards cardholders. The free dining plan is available for stays August 28 through September 24. The deal includes lodging, base Magic Your Way passes (which you can upgrade with any of the available add-ons), a 20-page Disney's PhotoPass Photo Book, and the free dining plan. You may add additional pages to your Photo Book, at standard cost, if you wish.

If you choose a Value resort for your stay, you'll receive the free Quick Service Dining Plan (two quick-service meals and two snacks per person per night, plus one resort refillable drink mug per person). If you'd prefer to stay at a Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resort, you'll get the free standard Disney Dining Plan (one table- service meal, one quick-service meal, and one snack per person per night). Those at Value resorts can upgrade their Quick Service Dining Plan to the standard plan for the difference in the plan's cost. The dining plans do not include gratuities or alcoholic beverages.

Note: Since these dates are already within the 180-day booking window, some table-service restaurants might already be completely booked, so don't assume you can book any specific restaurant without checking first. Of course, if dining is the most important part of your trip, you can book your dining reservations first to lock in your favorites, then find a resort for those nights. You can always cancel the dining reservations if you can't get a resort for those dates.

You can book through August 27 while availability lasts, but reservations may go fast. The discount codes for the Disney Rewards Visa package are I25 for Value resorts and O2M for Moderates and above. The codes for the general public are QUH for Value resorts and N23 for Moderates and above.

Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7211, or your travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Free dining for October 2011 through Spring 2012

A new free dining offer has been released for Walt Disney World for dates through 2012. From now through October 29, guests can book free dining packages for select arrival dates from October 2, 2011, through March 31, 2012.

The 2011 dates run from October 2 through December 17, with breaks for Columbus Day week, PGA Tournament week, Veteran's Day week/Jersey week, Thanksgiving week, and Pop Warner week. Available arrival dates are:

  • October 1 to 6
  • October 22 to November 3
  • November 12 to 17
  • November 26 to December 1
  • December 10 to 15

2012 dates run from January 8 through March 31 (the end of Disney's second fiscal quarter), with blockouts for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday week, and several popular spring break weeks. Available arrival dates are:

  • January 8 to 12
  • January 21 to February 2
  • February 11 to 16
  • March 3 to 8
  • March 24 to 29
  • August 19 to September 29 (Canada residents only)

Package eligibility is based on arrival date and is valid for the length of the reservation, so if you arrive on the last day before a blackout period and stay through a blackout week, you'll still have the free dining package for the length of your stay. Conversely, if you arrive on a Saturday that is the last day of the blackout, you will need to make a one-night reservation and then book the free dining package starting on your second day, during the availability period.

Guests staying at value resorts will get the Quick Service Dining Plan for free, and guests at moderate or deluxe resorts will get the standard Disney Dining Plan for free. As with all packages, park tickets must be part of the package. Packages are available for a minimum of 3 nights and a maximum of 14 nights.

No group rates or other discounts apply. The offer excludes suites, campsites and 3-bedroom villas. Advance reservations are required. The free dining plan excludes gratuities and alcoholic beverages. Children ages 3–9 must order from children’s menu if available. Some table service restaurants may already have limited or no availability.

You can book through October 29 while availability lasts, but reservations may go fast. The discount codes for the package are D3X for Value resorts and J4J for Moderates and above.

Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-1880, or your travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Passholder discounts released for late summer/early fall

Walt Disney World has announced a new set of passholder discounts for stays from mid-August through the start of October. The discounts provide 20 to 35 percent off for stays most nights from August 14 to October 1. As with the summer deal, Passholders will save 35 percent at Deluxe Villa resorts, 30 percent at Deluxe resorts, and 20 percent at Moderate and Value resorts.

Passholders can book through the day before arrival, but be aware that rooms may go fast, as the number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Suites and three-bedroom Grand Villas are not included. An adult passholder must show their pass at check-in. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.

Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Passholder website, by calling Walt Disney World at (407) 939-7643, or your travel agent and using booking code Y3H. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Passholder discounts released through year-end

Walt Disney World has announced a new set of passholder discounts for stays from the start of October through the end of 2011. The

discounts provide 30 to 40 percent off for stays most nights from October 3 through December 24, with a Thanksgiving blackout period of November 23-25. Passholders will save 40 percent at Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts and 20 percent at Moderate and Value resorts.

Passholders must book by September 4. Be aware that rooms may go fast, as the number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Suites and three-bedroom Grand Villas are not included. An adult passholder must show their pass at check-in. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.

Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Passholder website, by calling Walt Disney World at (407) 939-5696, or your travel agent and using booking code W4K. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Passholder merchandise discounts extended through 2011

Walt Disney World passholder merchandise discounts have been extended through the end of 2011. Epcot After 4pm, Weekday Select, Seasonal and Annual Passholders get 10 percent off purchases at selected locations, while Premium Annual Passholders (including bicoastal Premier Annual Passholders) get 20 percent off. The discount is available at Walt Disney World-owned and operated shops, but not those stores owned by "operating participants" (third-party stores). The discount is also not valid on a long list of products, and can not be combined with other discounts, offers or promotions. For a full list of what is not included in this discount, check out the Art of Disney Parks website.

Military ticket offer

From now through September 28, 2011, 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 $138 per ticket, plus tax, or with both the Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More options for $165 per ticket, plus tax. No Base ticket is available with this offer.

The tickets expire and may not be used after September 30, 2012.

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. No more than six tickets may be purchased by any eligible member of the U.S. military (or their spouse, but not both) for themselves, family members, and friends, and all tickets must be purchased at the same time. If the immediate family has more than five dependents, additional tickets may be purchased for the dependents, however, additional tickets for guests may not be purchased. Valid military identification is required. The tickets are non-transferable and may not be resold.

The tickets may be upgraded 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.

For complete information regarding Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets, military personnel may call 407-939-7830 or participating U.S. military base ticket offices.


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


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(Send an email to Mark Goldhaber)

Mark (@MPMark) is a veteran of dozens of trips to Walt Disney World starting in 1972, with a few Disneyland trips thrown in for good measure. As a Disney stockholder and a Disney Vacation Club member, Mark is always in touch with what's going on with The Mouse. Mark serves as MousePlanet's Walt Disney World content coordinator. Mark is a senior information technology manager working for the State of New York. He lives in the suburbs outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son.