Walt Disney World began testing its Next Generation "Fastpass+" system, also referred to as "XPass." With the system, guests can select a number of attractions for which they receive a set of virtual Fastpass tickets attached to an RFID card. They also receive a list of times for which they can use the virtual Fastpass tickets.
When the guests approach the attraction, they scan their RFID card at a post similar to that tested at Epcot for admission media last November. The post verifies their reservation and transmits confirmation to a cast member's iPad. The card is scanned again at the Fastpass/standby merge point, at which point the virtual FastPass is deemed "used" and is removed from the guest's itinerary.
We're hearing that some guests had been solicited for the test via email before arrival, and we're now hearing that others are being solicited as they approach the Disney's Magical Express check-in at Orlando International Airport on their way to the resort.
This is the first real-life test of the system, with some guests using the Fastpass+ system during a normal park day with all other guests using standard Fastpass and standby queues. If eventually rolled out, guests staying at Disney resorts would reportedly be able to get a set number of Fastpass+ reservations per day, but might also be able to request additional standard Fastpass tickets as well.
Since the RFID system has already been tested for park admission, this will allow Walt Disney World to eventually go to an all-RFID system for both park entry and attractions, which will simply give a green or red response to the given card. This should cut down on arguments with cast members over whether or not someone should be allowed to use the FastPass queue. If the post doesn't light up green, you can't go in.
While this is just a small-scale test, it's likely that this will be followed later this year with a larger-scale test after all of the data from this two-week test is analyzed. While there's no official launch date yet, if tests continue as smoothly as we're hearing that they are, the system could be in place sooner than you think.
If you've been selected to test this system, please contact us and let us know how it went and what you think!
Walt Disney World has released room-only discounts available for stays most nights August 15 through September 29. This time period is largely the same as for the free dining offer. You will want to price your package out both ways to see which way comes out cheaper for you. You must book this discount by August 14.
Discounts include the following:
Other resorts and rooms are available at differing discounts.
No other discounts or group rates apply. The number of discounted rooms at these rates are limited, and additional minimum stay lengths may apply for weekend arrivals.
Tou can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-1894 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code T47.
Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations and Mary Kraemer of Mouse Ear Vacations for the info.
Tables in Wonderland, the discount dining program available to Annual Passholders and Florida residents, is hosting two exclusive special events in May and June and providing a new discount on tickets to Cirque du Soleil:
Thursday, May 17, sees another Discovery Dinner at The Wave … of American Flavors at the Contemporary Resort, with a 6:30 p.m. reception and 7:00 p.m. dinner. The $110 price includes tax and gratuity. Appetizers are be paired with wine during the reception, and dinner features an appetizer, salad, entree and dessert, and each course will be paired with wine. This month's dinner showcases Triple Sweet Corn from Hank Scott's Farm in Zellwood, Florida. Wines are from JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, hosted by Master Sommelier Joseph Spellman. The event is limited to 46 attendees.
Dishes during the reception include Arepas with Queso Blanco, Chipotle, and Scallions; Blue Corn Mini Tacos with Duck Confit, Zesty BBQ; and Polenta Tapas, Pulled Pork, Granny Smith Chiffonade, paired with Justin Sauvignon Blanc. Dinner starts with an appetizer of Florida Shrimp and Grits with Long & Scott Locally Harvested Corn, paired with Justin Chardonnay. Landmark Overlook Chardonnay is paired with a salad course of Zellwood Corn and Heirloom Avocado Salad; Baby Greens, Corn-Olive Charcoal; Lime Chile Vinaigrette, Cotija Cheese; and Grilled Huitlacoche Ravioli.
The Char-crusted Cowboy Rib Eye Steak entree with Mexican Blackened Corn, Cilantro Lime Butter, Quinoa and Black Beans is paired with Justin Justification A cheese course of Montegrappa Cow’s Milk Cheese from Veneto, Italy; Taleggio Semisoft from Lombardy; and Pecorino Toscano Hard Sheep’s Cheese is paired with Landmark Grand Detour Pinot Noir. A dessert sampler of Berry and Queso Blanco Masa Empanada; Corn Meal Chipotle Chocolate Crackle Cookies; and Popcorn Infused Dulce De Leche Ice Cream is paired with Justin Obtuse Port.
This will be the last Discovery Dinner until after the end of the 2012 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Dress is casual evening attire.
On Friday, June 15, and Saturday, June 16, The Great Movie Ride Dinner event takes place at Disney's Hollywood Studios from 8:00-10:30 p.m. For $165 per person, plus tax but including gratuity, guests will enter The Great Movie Ride after it is closed to the public and enjoy a meal that moves through the attraction itself.
From 8:00-8:30, guests will enjoy a passed reception in the Gangster Scene, featuring "Squid and Beans" Salad, "Gambino" Balsamic Beef with Palermo Roasted Tomato, and "Terranova" Blistered Artichoke Cheese Quenelle. At 8:30, guests will move to the Western Scene, where they will enjoy a plated dinner of Creamy Free Range Yard Bird Corn Chowder with Piquillo Peppers and Ciabatta Bread; Wild Greens and Herbs with Cactus Cilantro Vinaigrette with Beet Tumbleweeds with Mandarin Rice Wine Marinade; Poblano Barbeque Braised Beef Short Rib with Tobacco Onions; Smoky Cheddar Potatoes Gratin; Black Skillet Roasted Baby Green Beans with Mushrooms; and House-made Fire Roasted Corn Bread with Butter.
The meal will conclude with a dessert buffet in the Land of Oz from 10:00-10:30, featuring Wicked Witch Pistachio Cannoli, Emerald Cheesecake Pushups, Ruby Strawberry Panna Cotta, Dark Forest Chocolate Decadence with Raspberry Gel, Yellow Brick Caramel Milk Cake, and Auntie Em’s Apple Cake. Beer, wine, and specialty beverages will be included with the meal, as well. Attendance is limited to 80 people per event date.
To request a reservation to either event, send an e-mail to Tables in Wonderland (link) with your interest, name, daytime phone number, home address, and the number of people in your party. For The Great Movie Ride Dinner event, you must also include the event date that you are requesting. Reservations are first-come, first-served. You will need to provide your credit card number over the phone at the time of confirmation.
In addition, Tables in Wonderland members can get more discounted Category 2 tickets to La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil for performances Tuesday through Saturday, May 29 through June 22. Prices for members and up to 3 guests are $57.85 plus tax for adults and $46.80 plus tax for children. This 35 percent discount is even deeper than the $66.75/$54.00 discounts offered for April and early May. Call 407-WDW-SEAT (407-939-7328) to purchase tickets.
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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 email@example.com to help us keep our listings updated.
Last week, Walt Disney World released the schedule for the Eat to the Beat concert series during the 17th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival this fall. This year, the opening weekend will feature Night Ranger, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will again close out the series.
New this year are Smash Mouth, Javier Colon, winner of "The Voice", Blues Traveler and Dennis DeYoung, and Survivor returns after performances in 2004 and 2006. Gone from last year are Taylor Dayne, Jon Secada, Roger Hodgson, Richard Marx, and The Orchestra.
Here's the schedule (still subject to change, of course):
Performances will take place three times nightly at the America Gardens Theatre, and are included in the price of park admission.
Tickets are now on sale for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, and the dates are pretty much as we projected earlier. The Halloween Party will be held on 23 nights (same as last year) on September 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, 30, October 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, and November 2. The Christmas Party will be held on 20 nights (up from 19 nights last year) on November 9, 12, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, 30, December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 21.
Both parties run from 7 p.m. until midnight on each of their nights, with parades (Boo-To-You and Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime) taking place at 8:15 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. and fireworks (Happy HalloWishes and Holiday Wishes) going off at 9:30 p.m. While the parties start at 7 p.m., your party ticket should get you into the Magic Kingdom starting around 4 p.m. that afternoon.
The Halloween party again carries a variable price tag this year. For events in September (except September 30), day-of-event pricing is $62.95 plus tax for adults and $57.95 plus tax for children ages 3-9 (up $3 and $4, respectively, from last year). October and November dates have day-of-event pricing of $64.95 and $59.95 plus tax for adults and children, respectively, (all up $2 from last year) except for October 31, which carries the even higher price of $69.95 and $64.95 plus tax (again both up $2 from last year), being Halloween night. Advance purchase discounts of $7 (for $62.95 dates) and $6 (for $64.95 dates) per ticket for the general public and $10 per ticket (all dates) are available for all dates except Friday nights in October, plus October 31. Passholders and DVC Member discounts are also not available on October 28, 30, and November 2.
Armed Forces Salute Tickets are available for the Halloween Party on September 11, 14, 18, 21, 25 and 28 for eligible service members, and may be purchased in person at any theme park, water park, or Downtown Disney. They are not available at Shades of Green or in advance. Discounted pricing is $37.77 plus tax for adults and $36.37 plus tax for children ages 3-9. Tickets are limited to the service member plus five guests for any party.
The Christmas party carries day-of-event pricing of $64.95 plus tax for adults and $59.95 plus tax for children ages 3-9, the same as the October and November dates for the Halloween party. Advance purchase discounts of $6 per ticket for the general public and $10 per ticket for passholders and DVC Members are available to the general public for all dates, except November 16 and 30 (the Fridays before and after Thanksgiving), December 7, 14, and 21 (Friday nights in December), and December 20 (the last next-to-last party). Passholder and DVC Member discounts are also not available on December 7, 11, 13, and 14. The final night of the party, December 21, will carry the higher ticket price of $67.95 plus tax for adults and $62.95 plus tax for children ages 3-9, $3 higher than the other nights, with no discounts available.
Note: The inaugural Tower of Terror 10-Miler takes place Saturday, September 29, and the third annual Wine & Dine Half Marathon takes place on Saturday, November 10, so expect tickets for those weekends (September 28 and 30, and November 9 and 12) to be particularly popular among those who plan to go to Walt Disney World for the races.
Night of Joy tickets are now available for the event at the Magic Kingdom park this fall. Tickets for each night (September 7 and 8) cost $62.95 plus tax ($52.95 plus tax in advance) for all attendees. Two-night tickets cost $94.95 plus tax each.
The line-up of acts were announced earlier. On Friday, September 7, the entertainment will include: Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin, needtobreathe, Red, Francesca Battistelli, Brandon Heath, Royal Tailor, and Disciple. Saturday, September 6 will feature: MercyMe, Third Day, Kutless, Chris August, Lecrae, Yolanda Adams, Thousand Foot Krutch, and Dara Maclean.
The after-park-hours, hard-ticketed event runs from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. each night. Tickets are available by calling 877-NITE-JOY (877-648-3569) or at the event website.
The following is a listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
Walt Disney Imagineers Chris Kelly and Tim Warzecha provide an inside look at the creation of the chandeliers in the "Ballroom" dining room of the Be Our Guest Restaurant.
…Soarin' at Epcot (as well as Soarin' Over California at Disney California Adventure) closed Thursday night for maintenance while Disney figured out how a guest managed to exit their seat before takeoff. While no injuries were reported, it is troubling that someone was able to evade the safety restraints after their belt was latched and locked. The attraction reopened on Friday, so it's assumed that Disney has figured out what happened and deemed the attraction safe to reopen.
…Two weeks ago, a 5-pound branch fell off of the Tree of Life at Disney's Animal Kingdom during a storm, causing Disney to temporarily close the animal trails around the tree's base and the It's Tough To Be a Bug attraction inside the tree while the tree was inspected and repaired. The area was deemed safe to reopen last Monday, and the trails and movie returned to operation.
…Disney's Hollywood Studios will fill the Soundstage 4 space vacated by the Journey Into Narnia walkthrough attraction with The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow this fall. According to Imagineering show producer Jason Roberts, "it is really a first-person experience." Guests will "walk in the footsteps of Jack Sparrow" and experience the world of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. An opening date will be announced later this year.
…Last Tuesday at Epcot, Tutto Gusto opened and Tutto Italia reopened with fanfare and confetti. Tutto Italia now has covered outdoor seating for 45 in addition to its indoor space, and the restaurant's former lobby area and some additional space is now occupied by Tutto Gusto's counter-service location. The Italy pavilion's two sit-down restaurants, Tutto Italia and Via Napoli, both accept reservations and participate on the Disney Dining Plan, while Tutto Gusto's quick-service location neither accepts reservations nor participates in the Disney Dining Plan (yet).
…The MousePlanet Newsletter is here! The newsletter contains a recap of the week's articles (in case you miss a day), news that may have developed since the weekly Updates were published, and tips about what's happening at the Disney theme parks for the coming weekend. We'll also include a fun MouseAdventure bonus, such as an Eye Spy or a trivia question. To subscribe to our free newsletter, go to the MousePlanet main page and enter your email address in the top right box labeled "Join the MousePlanet Newsletter." Click Join, then fill out the fields in the registration page, including your first and last name. The Newsletter is free, but you must complete this registration to receive it, even if you may have signed up for one with us in the past.
…The 2013 Princess Half Marathon weekend takes place February 22-24, 2013. Registration will open Tuesday, July 10 at 12:00 p.m. EDT.
…Registration for the September 28–29 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend is now full. There is a waitlist in case additional spots become available..
…Registration for the November 9-10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is 54 percent full.
…Registration for the January 10-13, 2013, Disney Marathon Weekend is now open. Registration for Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is already 56 percent full.
Crowd information and forecasts are provided by TouringPlans.com, the website of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, to help you better plan your trip to the Walt Disney World Resort. TouringPlans.com gathers wait time data from a team of in-park researchers and users of their Lines mobile phone application, and then predicts crowd levels for the next 365 days. Using a scale from 1 to 10, TouringPlans.com has a 90 percent accuracy of predicting the crowds to within 1 point, helping visitors prepare for their trips so they can "Do more. Wait less."
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Two new discounts have been released for this summer, one for room and ticket packages and one for room-only reservations. Both discounts are available for stays most nights from June 15 through August 14 and must be booked by June 14.
Discounts on package stays are available for a minimum stay of three nights and a minimum Magic Your Way base ticket of two days. These rates are available for June 15 through August 4 at Value and Moderate Resorts and July 15 and August 14 at Deluxe and Deluxe Villas Resorts. This discount does not include Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
Room-only discounts are available for June 15 through August 4 (Value Resorts) or August 14 (Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas Resorts). Discounts are 15 percent at Value Resorts, 20 percent at Moderate Resorts, and 25 percent at Deluxe and Deluxe Villas Resorts. This discount does not include suites and 3 bedroom Grand Villas.
No other discounts or group rates apply. The number of discounted rooms at these rates are limited, and additional minimum stay lengths may apply for weekend arrivals.
Both packages use discount code C8Q.
For the discounted packages, you can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-4990 or your favorite travel agent.
For the room-only discounts, you can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-1920 or your favorite travel agent.
Florida residents can take advantage of a special 3- or 4- day ticket at discounted prices through late May. The "Wild for 3" (and "Wild for 4") tickets are available for purchase through May 21, and are valid for admission any three (or four) days through May 24, excluding blackout dates. The tickets are not valid February 18-20 and April 1-13 due to high crowd levels.
The Wild for 3 Pass ($99 plus tax) and Wild for 4 ($129 plus tax) passes are good at any one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks each day, but without park hopping privileges. Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More options can be added for $27.50 each ($55 for both).
Proof of Florida residency is required for each adult age 18 and older. The discounted price applies to both adults and children.
Walt Disney World is offering free dining with packages for Disney Visa card members and the general public. The offer is valid for stays most nights from August 25 through September 29, 2012. As with the most recent offers, guests staying at Value resorts receive a free Quick Service Dining Plan, while guests staying in Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa accommodations receive the standard Disney Dining Plan. Guests can upgrade their dining plan for the usual difference in price between each dining plan.
The offer is only available for packages including room, tickets, and dining, and all members of the party much purchase the same package and tickets. Minimum length of stay is three nights with two-day base tickets; maximum stay on the package is 14 days. Some blackout dates apply.
Suites and campsites are not included in this offer, and you must book by May 18 to get this offer.
For the general-availability packages, you can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-7414 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code B7H (for Value resorts) or SS5 (for Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa Resorts).
Disney Visa card members can make reservations through the Disney Visa Rewards website or by calling (407) 939-1881 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code L69 (for Value resorts) or B7I (for Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa Resorts).
A Passholder discount is available for most dates March 9 through June 14. The nights of April 1 to 14 and May 25 to 31 are not available due to peak travel periods of Easter break and Memorial Day week.Passholders can book this discount through the day of arrival if rooms are still available. As with all discounts, rooms available at these rates is limited, and minimum length-of-stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. No group rates or other discounts apply. Suites and 3- bedroom Grand Villas are not included.
You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-1876 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code RX2. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Tables in Wonderland members can purchase discounted Category 2 tickets La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil on performances Tuesday through Saturday nights, from April 17 to May 11 and May 29 to June 27. For the earlier set of dates, prices for members and up to 3 guests are $66.75 plus tax for adults and $54.00 plus tax for children. For the later dates, prices for members and up to 3 guests are $57.85 plus tax for adults and $46.80 plus tax for children. To purchase tickets, call 407-WDW-SEAT (407-939-7328). Note that a valid Tables in Wonderland ID and advance purchase is required. Tickets must be picked up at the La Nouba box office Will Call window.
From now through September 28, 2012, 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. Blackout dates are April 1 to 12, 2012; and July 4, 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 twelve Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased, activated and/or used by any Eligible Service Member or spouse during the life of this promotion, and no Eligible Service Member or spouse may purchase, activate and/or use more than six Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets during any single week of the promotion. One of the Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets purchased on each occasion must be for use by the Eligible Service Member or spouse. This offer is for active or retired members of the U.S. military, including the National Guard, Reservists and the U.S. Coast Guard. Valid military identification is required. The tickets are non-transferable and may not be resold.
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, visit the Walt Disney World website, or participating U.S. military base ticket offices.
(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.