Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for July 9 – 15, 2012

Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions | Comments

News and Views

Disney Cruise Line shuffles ships for fall/winter cruises | Free dining offer coming this week? | HGTV stars announced for Food & Wine speaker series | Agent P adventure expansion coming? | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd Update

Disney Cruise Line shuffles ships for fall/winter cruises

Back in January, we told you about the itineraries for the Disney Cruise Line through September 2013. We've now got information for the remainder of nextyear, and it looks like the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder are swapping home ports between the spring and fall, after their respective time away from the Caribbean.

As we noted earlier, the Disney Wonder sails from Port Miami from December 23, 2012, through May 2, 2013, departing Miami on May 6, 2013, to return to the West Coast. After its 14-night Panama Canal voyage and a May 20 departure from Los Angeles to reposition to Vancouver, B.C., the Wonder sails 7-night voyages to Alaska, with a final departure from Vancouver on September 9 to return to Los Angeles on September 14. That was as far as we had in January, and we speculated that the Wonder would then reposition through the Panama Canal again to Miami.

We now know that we were half right. The Wonder repositions through the Panama Canal, but then end its voyage in Galveston, Texas. From there, the ship begins sailing on 7-night Western Caribbean voyages to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, and Cozumel through the end of 2013. Those cruises (starting at $840 per person) depart on September 28, October 5, 12, 19, and 26, November 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, and December 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2013.

Meanwhile, the Disney Magic sails 6- and 8-night Western Caribbean voyages out of Galveston from September 2012 through May 10, 2013. On May 10, it departs for Europe, where its itinerary includes 4-, 7-, and 12-night Mediterranean cruises from the port of Barcelona. The Mediterranean sailings will depart through August 31. We expected the Magic to depart Barcelona on September 7 for a 14-night Trans-Atlantic repositioning cruise to Galveston.

We now know that the Magic is heading to Miami instead, but the transfer is somewhat hazy. There is no announced repositioning cruise for the ship, and the sailings from Miami aren't scheduled to start until October 27, 2013. It would appear that the Magic may be in for some extensive drydock refurbishment during that time. There may be additional sailings announced during that gap depending on the drydock schedule as the time gets closer. Once the ship gets to Miami, it sails 3- and 4-night Bahamian itineraries and two different 5-night Caribbean itineraries.

The Magic departs on three-night Bahamas cruises from Miami to Nassau and Castaway Cay (starting at $609 per person) on December 27 and 30, 2013. The ship sails four-night Bahamas cruises to Key West and Castaway Cay (starting at $500 per person) on November 6 and 20, and December 4 and 18, 2013. The Magic's five-night itineraries (starting at $575 per person) visit Cozumel and Castaway Cay for departures October 27, November 10 and 24, and December 8 and 22, 2013, and visit Grand Cayman and Cozumel for departures November 1, 15, and 29 and December 13, 2013.

The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy continue to cruise their current itineraries from Port Canaveral. The Dream sails 3-, 4-, and 5-night Bahamian voyages, while the Fantasy sails 7-night cruises that alternate between Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises.

For more information about the early-2013 voyages, see our story from January. For further information or to book a cruise, you can call Disney Cruise Line at (888) 325-2500, visit the DCL website or contact your travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are Mouse Ear Vacations, Small World Vacations, and Get Away Today Vacations.

After a lengthy refurbishment, the northeast corner of Town Square in the Magic Kingdom is shining like new. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The Chamber of Commerce building has also come out from under wraps. For the first time in a very long time, there are no major refurbishments taking place along Main Street, U.S.A. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The entrance to the Pirates League is now flanked by mannequins sporting make-up variations and costume choices. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Calling all with a spirit of adventure!

Registration is now open for MouseAdventure: World Explorers IV! The fourth annual running 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.

Free dining offer coming this week?

We're hearing that about a free dining offer released this week for fall and winter 2012. Reports say that the offer is available to Disney Visa cardmembers today, July 9, and to the general public this Thursday, July 12. The promotion is reportedly valid for all room types except standard rooms (Little Mermaid buildings) at Disney's Art of Animation Resort. The free dining would be available for travel with arrival dates during the following periods:

  • September 30 through October 4
  • October 19 through November 1
  • November 9–15
  • November 23–29
  • December 10–13

Note: If you're planning to play MouseAdventure: World Explorers IV on November 3, you can get free dining as long as you arrive by the preceding Thursday, November 1.

While this has not been officially confirmed, we have heard it from a fairly reliable source. If the offer is released, we'll have more details in next week's Update.

Construction on the restroom complex in Fantasyland adjacent to Liberty Square has gone vertical. The building is somewhat large for just a pair of restrooms, and some have speculated that there may be a Tangled-themed meet-and-greet as part of this area. The taller steel tower may be a forced-perspective aspect of just such a location. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Construction walls have moved closer to Pinocchio Village Haus, hiding the newer work that included a rock wall and set of benches. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Construction continues on the new gated entranceway to Fantasyland Forest last Saturday. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Construction work on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster continues to grow both laterally and vertically. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Rockwork sculpting continues on the facade of the Little Mermaid attraction area. Note the palm trees that have been planted to the far left. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

HGTV stars announced for Food & Wine speaker series

We've now got the list of HGTV stars who are appearing at this fall's 17th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The personalities are speaking each weekend on the HGTV Stage at the Festival Center located in the former Wonders of Life pavilion. The speaker series kicks off wth this season's winner of Design Star, to be announced July 25. Here's the list of the personalities currently scheduled to speak (subject to change, as always):

  • September 28 to 30 – Design Star Season 7 Winner
  • October 5 to 7 – Casey Noble (Design on a Dime)
  • October 12 to 14 – Alison Victoria (DIY Network’s Kitchen Crashers)
  • October 19 to 21 – Brian Patrick Flynn (HGTV.com, Design Happens contributor)
  • October 26 to 28 – Meg Caswell (Meg’s Great Rooms)
  • November 2 to 4 – Marianne Canada (HGTV.com, Design Happens contributor)
  • November 9 to 12 – Emily Henderson (Secrets From a Stylist)

Guests waiting for Dumbo from both the Fastpass and Standby queues can now enjoy the air-conditioned thrills of Dumbo's interactive one ring circus. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Those using the Standby queue are given easy instructions on the use of a restaurant-style pager device. On what should have been a fairly busy summer afternoon, guests were given the option of using the pager device, or simply walking right on the attraction. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Still, for small children up to 8 years of age, the circus tent offers its own enjoyments, such as this "high-wire act" set of swings high above on a net... Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

…or this slide disguised as a cannon for shooting humans. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This final section of the Storybook Circus has been a little more difficult to discern. Hosts at One Man's Dream at the Studios are clear that this is a food and beverage location, with snack wagons in the circular park-like foreground, and other facilities in the background. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

They also make it clear—as does the circus poster—that the key character in this section is Humphrey the Bear. How he will appear in this corner of the park is yet uncertain. 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.

Agent P adventure expansion coming?

Last week, the Disney Parks Blog contained a hint that more missions are coming to the Agent P World Showcase Adventure at Epcot. "Doofenshmirtz is building new missions," Imagineer Jonathan Ackley is quoted as saying. "Also, keep an eye out for more Perry the Platypus!" Since all seven countries from the Kim Possible version of the interactive game are already utilized in the new Agent P version of the game. it is uncertain whether there will be additional missions in the existing countries or if there will be an expansion of the game portals to additional countries. The seven countries already prepared for the game are Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Japan, France, and United Kingdom. The remaining unused countries are Italy, the American Adventure, Morocco, and Canada.

Last Tuesday morning, new Phineas and Ferb topiaries appeared at Epcot in the planter along the main walkway from Future World to World Showcase, near the Odyssey Bridge dispatch location for the Disney Phineas and Ferb's Agent P World Showcase Adventure. Take a look at how Disney put the topiaries up overnight.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Storybook Circus – Phase III (tents) D-Zone.
  • Magic Kingdom Storybook Circus – Phase III (tents) merchandise.
  • Magic Kingdom Storybook Circus – Phase III (tents) Meet & Greet.
  • Magic Kingdom Storybook Circus – hot dog kiosk.
  • Magic Kingdom Storybook Circus – popcorn kiosk.
  • Magic Kingdom Storybook Circus – pretzel kiosk.
  • Magic Kingdom Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Yankee Trader – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom building MO2 – construction.
  • Epcot – Test Track.
  • Epcot American Adventure pavilion Liberty Inn – bring fryer exhaust fan up to code.
  • Epcot China pavilion Antiquity Shop – damper replacement.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Sunset Boulevard – electrical panel replacement.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Epic Theater – electrical panel replacement.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – electrical panel replacement.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Festival of the Lion King – construction.
  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course bridge 67 – construction.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace Tren-D – mechanical.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Narcoossee's Restaurant – constractor's general conditions.
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort Luau Cove – roofing.
  • Disney's Beach Club Resort Cape May Cafe – contractor's general conditions.
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort arcade building – electrical.
  • Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort Alligator Bayou path of travel – concrete.

The Fastpass machines adjacent to Stitch's Great Escape in Tomorrowland were removed a couple of weeks ago. Surprisingly, the line for this attraction was longer than the combined queues for Dumbo on Saturday. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Reconstruction of the volcano and other outdoor theming is still in progress at Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

One of the fireworks offerings during the Fourth of July celebration at Walt Disney World was the "Rockin' 4th of July Celebration," a rare fireworks show at Disney's Hollywood Studios, featuring live music from the popular park entertainment act Mulch, Sweat and Shears. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Quick takes …

…Reservations for Walt Disney World vacations with 2013 arrival dates will reportedly open this Wednesday, July 11.

…The 2013 Princess Half Marathon weekend takes place February 22–24, 2013. Registration opens tomorrow, 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. The related runDisney Kids' Races are now 57 percent full and the 5K is now 56 percent full, and the Disney Villains Hollywood Bash after-party is 52 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, Walt Disney World 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 lobby area of Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort recently completed a remodeling that included new carpeting, tiles and furnishings. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The lovely bay windows now bring more light into this area and offer a glimpse of the river just beyond. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

But the biggest change to this section is the removal of several additional check-in stations that separated the area from a windowed hallway. 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."

Crowds should be slightly lighter this week than last, but prepare for heavy summer tourist crowds if heading to the parks 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 10, 2012 9 / 10
Wednesday, July 11, 2012 9 / 10
Thursday, July 12, 2012 9 / 10
Friday, July 13, 2012 9 / 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!

  • Avoid the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday and over the weekend.
  • 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 Fairytale 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

  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – closed for refurbishment September 10-14

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

Discounted rooms and packages released for late summer/early fall

A new room-only discount has been released for this summer. The discount is available for stays most nights from August 15 through September 29 and must be booked by August 14.

Discounts vary by resort:

  • 30 percent: Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Disney's Old Key West Resort, Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, Disney's BoardWalk Inn, and Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (standard view)
  • 25 percent: Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, and Disney's Fort Wilderness Cabins
  • 20 percent: Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort, Disney's All Star Sports Resort, Disney's All Star Music Resort
  • 15 percent: Disney's All Star Movies Resort

Other room types may be available at varying rates.

This discount does not include suites, 3 bedroom Grand Villas, and Disney's Art of Animation Resort.

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.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-1894 or your favorite travel agent and using discount code T47.

MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Passholder room discounts available through August

A Passholder discount is available for most dates July 22 through August 14. 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, 3-bedroom Grand Villas, and Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included.

Discounts range from 20-30 percent and availability varies by date.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7283 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code C87. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

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.