Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for July 2 – 8, 2012

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News and Views

Navigating the crowds for July 4 | Be Our Guest Restaurant reveals menu; reservations open next month | Characters in Flight grounded | Baby okapi born at Disney's Animal Kingdom | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd Update

Navigating the crowds for July 4

Be prepared for huge crowds this week, as tomorrow (the Fourth of July) will be one of the most crowded days of the year at the parks. In fact, this week's anticipated overall crowd level hits a 10 out of 10 every day according to MousePlanet partner TouringPlans.com.

A suggested strategy to get the most out of your Independence Day visit would be to catch the "Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky" at the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday night (with a 9.1 predicted crowd level) instead of on Wednesday (which has a 9.7 predicted crowd level), and instead catch July Fourth fireworks at either Epcot (9.9) at 10 p.m. or Disney's Hollywood Studios (9.4) at 9:45 p.m.

The special Magic Kingdom fireworks show takes place at 9:00 p.m., with showings of "The Magic, The Memories, and You" at 10:45 and 11:30 p.m. each night. The Main Street Electrical Parade runs at 10:00 p.m. and midnight each night. Additional patriotic activities in the park include the daily Flag Retreat ceremony at 5:00 p.m.. You can also visit the Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square. The Magic Kingdom park is open from 9:00 a.m. to midnight on Tuesday (with Extra Magic Hours until 3:00 a.m.) and 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

Epcot again showcases the "Heartbeat of Freedom" tag to the regular Illuminations show, rolling out the special addition for the performance—alternately referred to as the "World War III Barge" or the "Armageddon Barge." The show goes off at 10:00 p.m. instead of the standard 9:00 p.m., and the park stays open until 10:00 p.m. as well. Additional patriotic activities include performances of the Voices of Liberty at the America Gardens Theatre at 12:30, 1:45, and 3:00 p.m. and at the American Adventure pavilion at 4:15 and 5:00 p.m., the American Adventure show itself, and meet-and-greet opportunities with "Ben Franklin," "Betsy Ross," and Disney characters in patriotic costumes, from 11:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Over at Disney's Hollywood Studios is the "Rockin' 4th of July Celebration" show, with live music by Mulch, Sweat, and Shears accompanying the fireworks, which kick off at at 9:45 p.m. There are also 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. showings of Fantasmic. The park is open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

If you'd like to be elsewhere for the fireworks (or perhaps view them from a less crowded vantage point outside the parks), Disney's Animal Kingdom (a predicted 9.3 crowd level) is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, with morning Extra Magic Hours beginning at 8 a.m.

Whatever remained of Habit Heroes has been completely covered up and/or removed. While other exhibit areas at Innoventions have signage noting "work in progress," there are no signs present in this exhibit area. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This small children's play house has been added to the VISION House queue area at Innoventions. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Be Our Guest Restaurant reveals menu; reservations open next month

Reservations open in August (exact date to be determined) for the highly anticipated 500-seat Be Our Guest restaurant at the Magic Kingdom. The restaurant, with three dining rooms located inside the mountain and Beast's Castle structure in the northwest corner of the new Fantasyland Forest area, serves counter-service meals at lunchtime and table-service meals at dinner.

The restaurant is participating in the Disney Dining Plan, with a cost of one Quick Service entitlement for lunch and one Table Service entitlement for dinner. Be Our Guest also accepts the Tables in Wonderland discount dining card.

Last week, Chef Michael Deardorff shared the planned menu on the Disney Parks Blog.

The lunch service is a modified counter-service offering. Although cashiers can take guest orders (for those who require personal assistance or who are paying cash), the primary method of ordering will be through self-service kiosks, like those used at Pecos Bill's. It will be interesting to see how the kiosks are themed to match the restaurant. After guests place their order, their food will be delivered to their table on a china place setting, rather than paper or plastic.

Lunch offerings include tuna Niçoise salad; Croque Monsieur sandwich (ham, Gruyere cheese, and béchamel) with fries; braised pork; loaded vegetable quiche; quinoa, shallot, and chive salad; a turkey sandwich on a warm baguette with fries; and a grilled steak sandwich with garlic butter spread with fries.

Dinner features a standard table-service menu that includes appetizers of French onion or potato leek soup; charcuterie plate featuring cured meats and sausages; steamed mussels in white wine; and champagne vinaigrette salad. There's also a salad trio featuring roasted beet, raisins, and orange; green beans, tomatoes, and roasted shallots; and watermelon, radish, and mint.

Dinner entrees include grilled strip steak with fries; sauteed shrimp and scallops with veggies in puff pastry with lobster sauce; pan-seared salmon in leek fondue; oven-baked ratatouille; rotisserie rock hen with roasted fingerling potatoes; and thyme-scented port rack chop with pasta au gratin.

Dessert features strawberry cream cheese and triple chocolate cupcakes, and chocolate and passion fruit cream puffs.

The kids' lunch menu includes turkey sandwich, roasted pulled pork, seared mahi mahi, Mickey meatloaf, and whole-grain macaroni with marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Kids' dinner offerings include grilled steak, grilled fish of the day, grilled chicken breast, and whole-grain macaroni.

Disney's Phineas and Ferb's Agent P's World Showcase Adventure has drawn lots of interest, especially from youngsters who love the show. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Many of the props and set pieces used in the Kim Possible adventure have been reused or modified for the Agent P version of the game. In Germany, the mission payoff involving Dementor has been modified to use Dr. Doofenshmirtz in place of the Kim Possible villain. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Calling all with a spirit of adventure!

Are you ready for MouseAdventure: World Explorers IV? The fourth iteration of the scavenger hunt/puzzle quest/race through Walt Disney World's parks takes place on Saturday, November 3 at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (the game has been going on at the parks of the Disneyland Resort for more than 11 years now). Do you think that you know the Magic Kingdom? We bet you don't know it 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. Registration opens next week!

Characters in Flight grounded

The Characters in Flight balloon has been temporarily removed from Downtown Disney following an incident involving a similar balloon in Hong Kong. The accident, at Ocean Park, occurred when the balloon sprang a leak and plunged nearly 200 feet to the ground. Four passengers and one visitor on the ground were injured. Three other passengers and the operator were uninjured. Two of the injured passengers were taken to a hospital and later released after treatment. The visitor on the ground remained in the hospital with head injuries.

Following the accident, Aerophile pulled the Florida balloon for inspection, as well as a similar balloon at Disneyland Paris. The balloon's page on the Walt Disney World website has been temporarily disabled.

Some rumors indicate that the balloon may not be flying again until November. The balloon was reportedly scheduled for replacement in November, and therefore it makes less sense to try to put the balloon back in service only to deflate it again just weeks later.

The chimpanzee-themed sand sculpture from the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival was modified and rethemed for the Brave Highland Games at the park. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The Brave Highland Games features three sets of games to play. Merida does not appear at the games; she can only be seen at her Magic Kingdom meet-and-greet location. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

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.

Baby okapi born at Disney's Animal Kingdom

A new baby okapi was born at Disney's Animal Kingdom on June 21. Nafuna, the female baby (who weighed 35 pounds at birth), and its mother Zawadi, return to the Ituri Forest at Disney's Animal Kingdom in the next few months. Nafuna's father, Akili, lives on the Animal Kingdom Lodge's savanna. Okapi can be seen from both the Kilimanjaro Safaris jeeps and the pathways of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.

Despite its striped hindquarters, okapi are not related to the zebra, but are actually a relative of the giraffe. Their stripes act as camouflage when hiding in the partial sunlight filtering through the forest canopy. Okapi are rare in the wild due to habitat loss and hunting.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion is undergoing a queue remodel to add next-generation Fastpass capabilities. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

It is uncertain what this dining experience is at the Living With The Land boat ride through the greenhouse at the Land pavilion. One individual at the table was a Disney cast member. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom "it's a small world" – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Magic Carpets of Aladdin – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Skyway building – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Storybook Circus merchandise tent – construction to support merchandise fit out.
  • Magic Kingdom Storybook Circus – tent showsets.
  • Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland Light & Power Company arcade – electrical.
  • Epcot Joffrey's Coffee – construction.
  • Epcot Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion – main filter tank valve replacement.
  • Epcot Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion – mechanical construction on aeration tower.
  • Epcot Mission: Space ride bay – finishes.
  • Epcot Test Track – attraction show set & rigging package.
  • Epcot World Showplace kitchen – equipment change out / power and gas modification.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest – electrical.
  • Downtown Disney DisneyQuest 4th & 5th floor – electrical.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort main tower – LED lighting installation.
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort Great Ceremonial House – electrical.
  • Bay Lake Tower – electrical modifications.
  • Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Lafferty Place arcade – electrical.
  • Disney's Beach Club Resort – replacement of pipe at fire pump.
  • Disney's Boardwalk Resort Side Show Games arcade – electrical.
  • Disney's All Star Sports, Movies, and Music Resorts – all-star wall graphics.
  • Disney's All Star Sports Resort Surf's Up pool – mechanical.

Stayin' Alive, a Bee Gees tribute band, performs at the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series at the America Gardens Theatre. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Quick takes …

…The California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort gets a makeover in the first half of next year. The restaurant closes its doors on January 6 and does not reopen until late summer 2013. The menu is only seeing minor changes; the bulk of the makeover focuses on the dining space (as well as the on-stage kitchen).

…In addition to the various Brave-themed activities in the theme parks, Fort Wilderness is offering archery lessons (though not specifically themed to the new Disney-Pixar movie).

…Lorree Tachell and MousePlanet newsletter editor Stephanie Wien put together a blog entry on Monday morning about the speed at which runDisney events fill up. New numbers were released during the day, so they put up a new blog post in the evening with updated numbers.

…The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund was recently named Corporate Conservationist of the Year by the Florida Wildlife Federation.

…The 2013 Princess Half Marathon weekend takes place February 22–24, 2013. Registration opens next 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. The related runDisney Kids' Races are now 57 percent full and the 5K is now 56 percent full.

…Registration for the November 9-10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is 82 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 84 percent full, the full Marathon is 66 percent full, and the Half Marathon is 59 percent full.

…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 Cozy Cone Motel shows room vacancies at the newly opened Cars-themed wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort. The sign may or may not truly reflect the ongoing occupancy, but it seems appropriate to the resort setting. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The details are not as immersive as they are at the newly opened Cars Land at Disney California Adventure, but you don't get the chance to stay the night at DCA. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The Cozy Cones themselves serve as pool cabanas. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Crowd update


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."

We are now at the height of the summer travel season in Walt Disney World, with some of the heaviest crowds of the year this week. 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, July 3, 2012 10 / 10
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 10 / 10
Thursday, July 5, 2012 10 / 10
Friday, July 6, 2012 10 / 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!

  • Watching the Magic Kingdom July 4th fireworks from the Ticket and Transportation Center or Polynesian Resort can be a nice way to avoid crowds while still seeing this great show!
  • If visiting Epcot, remember that Test Track is closed until Fall 2012; plan your FASTPASS strategy accordingly.
  • An air-conditioned play/waiting area, FASTPASS, and twice as many ride vehicles are now available at Dumbo the Flying Elephant in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom. Expect more pleasant (and possibly shorter) waits!
  • Following a Touring Plan is important when crowd levels spike at the park you're visiting!

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


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Coming up

  • July: Remainder of Storybook Circus opens at Magic Kingdom.
  • August 10: The Lion King wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort opens.
  • August 14: Reservations for Party for the Senses at this year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival open.
  • September 7-8: Night of Joy.
  • September 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, 30, October 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, November 2. Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
  • September 15: The Little Mermaid wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort opens.
  • September 28–29: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend.
  • September 28 to November 12: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
  • October 2-3: D23 Sip & Scream.
  • Fall (exact date to be determined): Splitsville opens.
  • November 3: MouseAdventure World Explorers IV.
  • November 8–11: Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
  • November 9–10: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
  • November 9–11: Festival of the Masters.
  • November 9, 12, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, and 30, December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, and 21. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • November 22, 23, 25: Old Spice Classic.
  • "In time for Holidays 2012": Little Mermaid- and Beauty and the Beast-themed sections of New Fantasyland open at Magic Kingdom.
  • December 13: Disney Vacation Club Condominium Association annual meeting.
  • January 10–13, 2013: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.
  • February 22-24, 2013: Disney's Princess Half Marathon.
  • May 4, 2013: Expedition Everest Challenge.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station – now in soft-open status; officially opening in July.
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures – closed permanently for conversion to Princess Fairy Tale Hall.
  • Enclosed Dumbo queue – now in soft-open status; officially opening in July.
  • Second Dumbo spinner – now in soft-open status; officially opening in July.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment August 4–10.
  • Country Bear Jamboree – closed for refurbishment August 22 – October 16.
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant – opens by 2012 holiday season.
  • Maurice's Cottage – opens by 2012 holiday season.
  • Gaston's Tavern – opens by 2012 holiday season.
  • Bonjour Village Gifts – opens by 2012 holiday season.
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid – opens by 2012 holiday season.
  • Princess Fairy Tale Hall – opens 2013.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – opens 2014.


  • Test Track – closed through November 30 for "reimagining."

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • No known current refurbishments.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known current refurbishments.


  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Grand Floridian Spa closed through mid-2013 for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort – California Grill closed January 6, 2013, through late summer 2013 for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge – metal roof seams recoated through June 29.
  • Disney's Beach Club Resort – Cape May Cafe closed for refurbishment July 9 through August 3.
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort Yachtsman Steakhouse – closed for refurbishment August 27 through September 15.
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort – building exterior repaired and refinished through August 3.
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort – rooftop HVAC hot water piping replaced January 9 to September 28.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort – villa buildings undergo exterior cleaning and painting one at a time between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through August 30.
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort – Ranchos buildings experiences tile roof repair and replacement through July 27.
  • Disney's Pop Century Resort – repairs of concrete deck at Hippy Dippy Pool through September 28. The pool remains open during the work, but some small sections of the pool deck are closed periodically throughout this period.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 28 through January 5, 2013 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – closed for annual refurbishment starting January 5, 2013.


  • Oak Trail Golf Course – closed through September 28 for refurbishment.
  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. For 2012, the show is not be performed:
    • July 24
    • September 18 to 22
    • November 27

Current Discounts & Promotions

Tables in Wonderland members can save on tickets to La Nouba

Tables in Wonderland members can purchase discounted Category 2 tickets La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil on performances Tuesday through Saturday nights, May 29 to June 27. 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.

Military ticket offer

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. July 4, 2012 is a blockout date.

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.

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



  1. By Drince88

    The kids menu for Be Our Guest looks really good! Mahi Mahi?! Yummmmm

  2. Discuss this article on MousePad.