Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for October 1 – 7, 2012

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News and Views

Happy Anniversary, EPCOT Center! | Special Epcot anniversary merchandise available online and in-park | Calling all with a spirit of adventure! MouseAdventure: World Explorers comes to Magic Kingdom! | Storybook Circus tents open their flaps | Californians win Tower 10-Miler | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd Update

Happy Anniversary, EPCOT Center!

Today is Walt Disney World's 41st anniversary, but more notably, it's the 30th anniversary of Epcot (which opened as EPCOT Center). The park opened to the public on October 1, 1982, with its opening ceremonies taking place on October 24 of that year. In honor and celebration of the park's anniversary, here are a bunch of our favorite stories about the park.

A group of guest columns by former Imagineers back in 2004 told the stories of the construction of beloved EPCOT Center attractions. George McGinnis wrote about Horizons (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4), while Paul Torrigino shared stories of the origins of the Maelstrom attraction (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4).

Jim Korkis has written a number of stories about the park, both as Wade Sampson and under his own name. Five years ago, he wrote about the creation of the Imagination and Spaceship Earth attractions, the park's construction, and the park's grand opening. Later this week, he'll publish a column of 30 more things that you never knew about the park.

On the park's 25th anniversary, David Koenig wrote about how Epcot changed the World, and the next year wondered if World Showcase was finished.

Steve Russo interviewed Imagineer Jonathan Ackley about the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure when it opened back in early 2009. Chris Barry shared his Top 5 magical spots in World Showcase and topiaries at the Flower & Garden Festival. Jeff Kober shared stories of the role of the Engineering Department at Imagineering in the park's construction (Part 1 | Part 2).

Epcot has been a popular focus for Mike Morizio in his Mouse Flicks series of videos. Check out I Want Horizons Back!, A Figment of My Imagination, Dreamfinder's School of Drama, World of Test Track, and Gran Fiesta Tour.

Finally, Epcot has been a popular subject for the MouseStation Podcast since the show began. It was even the subject of Episode 2 back in 2007, with a look back at Epcot's Future World. The show had interviews with Dirk Donahue of the Voices of Liberty, Paul Collins of the Jammitors, Epcot Executive Chef Jens Dahlmann, and Kim Possible developer Janette Lomboy-Russo. David Koenig talked about Future World Past. The show discussed opinions about Epcot's Top Three and Bottom Three, and what should be updated, replaced, or changed back (Part 1 | Part 2).


A new feature at this year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is a Fresh Harvest watermelon patch. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Special Epcot anniversary merchandise available online and in-park

A selection of shirts themed to Epcot's 30th anniversary are available for a very short time through the Disney Parks online store. Through October 4, you can order one of three T-shirts with the anniversary logo and the anniversary date on them, as well as 11 shirts themed to the pavilions of World Showcase. Sales close after October 4, and a special custom run of the shirts will be printed. The shirts will not be available after that. The shirts should ship 6-8 weeks from the close of the sale period.

Other than that, special merchandise will be available only through the park. The commemorative items include shirts, pins, a coin set, iPhone 4/4s cases, Vinylmations, a special edition Duffy the Disney Bear, and much more.

Limited-edition merchandise are going on sale this morning. At park opening, there will be a queue set up in the Innoventions East breezeway for entry into MouseGear for sale of the items.

A construction wall blocks the Seven Dwarfs Mine shop and the former Snow White's Scary Adventures attraction in Fantasyland. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Meanwhile, new courtyard walls and other construction are still behind walls on the other side of the walkway. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Calling all with a spirit of adventure! MouseAdventure: World Explorers comes to Magic Kingdom!

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. Registration will close on Friday, October 19th at 11:00 p.m. (EDT), or when the event sells out. For more information, check out the MouseAdventure information page.

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.

Storybook Circus tents open their flaps

The primary-colored tents of Storybook Circus are opening their flaps. The blue Big Top Souvenirs merchandise location and the yellow Fastpass location for both Dumbo and the Barnstormer opened yesterday, and the red Pete's Silly Sideshow character meet-and-greet location is expected to open on Thursday. Also at Storybook Circus, pretzel and hot dog carts are now installed and set to open at any time.

Storybook Circus has an entry sign welcoming guests. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Just inside the entrance to the mini-land is the Big Top Souvenirs tent. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Inside the souvenir tent are many lines of merchandise, including clothing, toys, dolls and plush, pins, Vinylmation, D-Tech, ear hats, and more. You can even get your ear hats embroidered at the location. Big Top Treats inside the location sells various refreshments, including caramel apples, cotton candy, and "Goofy's Glaciers" beverages. There are plenty of character references hidden throughout the detailed circus theming of the shop.

Pete's Silly Sideshow is ready to open later this week. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

There is a seating area outside the sideshow tent, near the walls surrounding Casey Jr. Splash 'n' Soak Station. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Meanwhile, character schedules for the Magic Kingdom this week have characters that will appear at Pete's Silly Sideshow departing their current locations after Wednesday, seeming to indicate that they will relocate to Storybook Circus the next day.

The Casey Jr. Splash 'n' Soak Station is very popular on a hot day. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

With these complete, that should spell the end of the construction at Storybook Circus.

Additional characters from Disney shorts get top billing in Storybook Circus. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Humphrey gets to appear without Ranger J. Audubon Woodlore. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Californians win Tower 10-Miler

The inaugural Tower of Terror 10-Miler was won by a pair of Californians, as the latest runDisney race brought a nighttime event back to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Juan Morales of Huntington Beach won the men's division with a time of 58 minutes, and Kimberly Mueller of San Diego won the women's division in 1:04:50. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K was run three times, from 2007 through 2009.

Runners raced from the Studios' parking lot out Osceola Parkway toward Disney's Animal Kingdom, back along Osceola Parkway to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and then back to the Studios. The course then ran through the set of Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show, down New York Street, around the Sorcerer's Hat, through the Animation arch and up Pixar Place, then back along the Backstage Tram Tour route, finishing in the event space near the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller Coaster.

A construction crane is helping crews to install holiday lights on Cinderella Castle. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

The crews should finish their work in the next day or two. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Mulan parking lot – rejuvenation.
  • Magic Kingdom main entrance – electrical transportation sign installations.
  • Magic Kingdom Crystal Palace – electrical modifications.
  • Magic Kingdom Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Fantasyland restrooms – signage.
  • Magic Kingdom Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin – construction.
  • Epcot Spaceship Earth – construction.
  • Epcot Test Track – set photo ops.
  • Epcot France pavilion Bistro de Paris – restroom rework, kitchen equipment replacement, furnishings refresh.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios turnstiles – construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom accessible parking lot – rejuvenation.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Dinosaur – projector package.
  • Typhoon Lagoon Guest Relations – construction.
  • Typhoon Lagoon Crush 'n' Gusher queue building – general construction.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa doors only – electrical.
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort parking lot – rejuvenation.
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort Kona Cafe and 'Ohana – electrical.
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort Luau Cove – electrical.
  • Disney's Beach Club Resort Cape May Cafe and Beaches & Cream – electrical.
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort Yachtsman Steakhouse and Captain's Grille – electrical.
  • Disney's Boardwalk Resort restaurant areas – electrical.
  • Disney's Boardwalk Resort Atlantic Dance – electrical.
  • Disney's Boardwalk Resort Big River Grille & Brewing Works – electrical.

The Golden Oak food shack is closed at this time. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Halloween krispie treats are now available at select snack locations. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

Quick takes …

…The next attraction slated to get an interactive queue is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. There's no word on when the enhancement will be installed, but it will provide guests an opportunity to get involved in the story of the Big Thunder Mining Company. The work will be done at night, so it will not interfere with the daily operations of the attraction. Big Thunder will join the Haunted Mansion, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Dumbo the Flying Elephant with interactive queues.

…Those attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party can receive a special Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card themed to the event. The Chip 'N' Dale's Bag of Tricks card is only available at the firehouse in Town Square during the party, and guests must present their party ticket and wristband to receive one, to ensure that each attendee does not get more than one. The card is available in addition to the regular game card packs, which are also available during the party.

…Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats have been removed from the Magic Kingdom. There are rumors circulating on the Internet that the coin-operated attraction will be replaced by an expansion of the Jungle Cruise, but there has been no confirmation of that.

…A sample "SimCar" ride vehicle from the reimagined Test Track has been placed at the Cool Wash Station refreshment stand near the attraction. While the interior of the car is filled with simulated snow, ice, and bottles of Coca-Cola, it still gives a good idea of what the new vehicles will look like.

…Chase cardholders can access a special lounge at the Festival Center during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Guests with Chase debit and/or credit cards (including the Disney Visa credit and debit cards) will have access to the "Chase Lounge at the Festival" at the former Wonders of Life pavilion, where they will be able to relax, access free Wi-Fi and electronic charging stations, and complimentary beverages. There will also be access to tickets to reserved viewing areas for Eat to the Beat concerts and Illuminations, though those tickets go quickly each day.

…Special merchandise for the Epcot Inernational Food & Wine Festival this year includes shirts, sweatshirts, glassware (including stemless wine glasses), mini-dishes, a food tray, and more. The items are available at the Festival Center and Festival merchandise locations on World Showcase Promenade. A limited selection of the items will be available from the Disney Parks store for a limited time from October 8-14.

Work continues on the Disney Vacation Club resort under construction at the Grand Floridian Resort &Spa. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

When complete, the resort will have 147 two-bedroom equivalent units, with a total of 200 keyed entries. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

The new building sits between the main building of the Grand Floridian and the Wedding Pavilion. Photo by Stephanie Wien.

…Registration for the featured race of the November 9–10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is full. There are still some opportunities available to run the race via charity groups and travel operators. Look for details at the event website. The related Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K is 65 percent full, runDisney Kids Races are 63 percent full, and the Wine & Dine Finish Line Party is 67 percent sold out.

…Registration for the featured events of the January 10–13, 2013, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend are full, including the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, the full Marathon, and the Half Marathon. The Disney Family Fun Run 5K still has room at 70 percent full, and the runDisney Kids' Races are 53 percent full. Space for the featured races is still available through the Runner's World Challenge, Team in Training, and other groups with reserved spots. The Runner's World Challenge is currently 80 percent full.

…Registration for the February 22–24, 2013, fifth annual Princess Half Marathon Weekend is open. The individual and team Half Marathons are both 60 percent full. The Race Retreat is 55 percent full and the post-5K breakfast is 50 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.

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."

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!

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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Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.
Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

Coming up

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Snow White's Scary Adventures – closed permanently for conversion to Princess Fairytale Hall.
  • Cinderella Castle – crane on site for installation of Dreamlights through October 1.
  • Country Bear Jamboree – closed for refurbishment through October 16.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – closed for refurbishment October 9.
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – closed for refurbishment October 18-25.
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant – soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle – now in previews, soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • Gaston's Tavern – soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • Bonjour Village Gifts – soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid – soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • Ariel's Grotto – soft-opens November 19, official opening December 6.
  • Princess Fairytale Hall – opens 2013.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – opens 2014.


  • Test Track – closed through November 30 for "reimagining."
  • Bistro de Paris – closed through December 3 for refurbishment.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • American Film Institute Showcase – closed for refurbishment October 8 through November 16.
  • Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment October 8 through November 16.

Animal Kingdom

  • No current known refurbishments.


  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa:
    • Grand Floridian Spa closed through mid-2013 for refurbishment.
    • Sandy Cove shop closed through December.
    • Courtyard Pool closed through early December for addition of zero-entry area.
    • Mouseketeer Club closed through November 2012.
    • Gasparilla Grill & Games closed through December 17.
    • Ivy Trellis Beauty and Barber Shop closed October 20 through December 3 for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort – California Grill closed February 2, 2013, through late summer 2013 for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts:
    • Ship Shape Health Club closed through November 16 for refurbishment. A temporary health club has been set up in the Solarium at the Beach Club Villas.
    • Periwig Beauty & Barber Shop closed through November 16 for refurbishment.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 28 through January 5, 2013 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – January 6, 2013 through March 16, 2013 closed for annual refurbishment.


  • Palm, Magnolia, and Oak Trail Golf Courses – closed due to Children's Miracle Network Classic October 29 through November 11.
  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed for refurbishment October 22–28.
  • Osprey Ridge Golf Course – closed for refurbishment November 12–18.
  • Magnolia Golf Course – closed for refurbishment November 26 through December 2.
  • Palm Golf Course – closed for refurbishment December 3–9.
  • Oak Trail Golf Course – closed for refurbishment December 10–14.
  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. For 2012, the show will not be performed on November 27.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Passholder room discounts through end of year

A Passholder discount is available for most dates through December 24. 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. Campsites, 3-bedroom Grand Villas, and standard rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included. Discounts range from 20-35 percent and availability varies by date.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7859 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code Q5M. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

2013 Free dining package for United Kingdom citizens

A free dining package for 2013 is now available for citizens of the United Kingdom. The package is valid for arrivals in 2013 between January 13 and March 19, as well as April 7, through December 8. The package includes not only a free Disney Dining Plan, but also a $100 gift card and a 14-day ticket for the price of a 14-day ticket. The deal is valid for a free Quick-Service Dining Plan at Moderate resorts and a free standard Dining Plan at Deluxe resorts. You must book by November 15, 2012 to get this deal.

Special Summer PhotoPass+ deal

Disney's PhotoPass service has announced a new summer discount on Disney PhotoPass+ pre-arrival packages. For $169.95 plus tax, Walt Disney World guests receive a voucher to exchange for a PhotoPass+ card upon arrival at the resort, a Photo Gallery CD with over 400 stock photos ($39.95 value), a unique code to create and order a photo CD upon return from their trip ($169.95 value), print packages at select dining locations ($29.95 value each), and digital photos from select attractions ($14.95 value each). Applicable taxes will be charged to all orders.

This special offer is only available from this link or by calling the Guest Support line at 407-560-4300 before you arrive at Walt Disney World Resort. All sales are final, and not eligible for an exchange or refund.

The package may take as long as 14 days to arrive, and you must bring your voucher from the package to redeem it, so make sure that you order far enough in advance to allow your materials to arrive.

Attractions currently participating in the program are Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, and Dinosaur. Current participating restaurants are 1900 Park Fare, 'Ohana, Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Chef Mickey's, Cinderella's Royal Table, Tusker House Restaurant, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, and Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

2013 Military Salute offers

From now through September 28, 2013, 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 $156 per ticket, plus tax (up from $138 last year), or with both the Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More options for $184 per ticket, plus tax (up from $165). No Base ticket is available with this offer.

You cannot use these tickets before October 1, 2012, and they expire after September 28, 2013. Blockout dates are December 24 to 31, 2012 and March 24 through April 4, 2013 at all ticketed locations, and July 4, 2013 at Magic Kingdom park only.

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. Tickets may be purchased by active and retired military personnel for themselves and up to five additional family members or friends. 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.

You may upgrade the tickets 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.

In addition, specially priced rooms are available to active and retired U.S. military personnel at select Walt Disney World resorts for stays most nights from October 1, 2012 through September 28, 2013, except for November 24, 2012, December 23-31, 2012, and March 25 through April 4, 2013.

For complete information regarding Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets and discounted resort rates, 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.