Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer

Update for April 8 – 14, 2013

Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Resort Events | Refurbishments and Attraction Closures | Discounts and Promotions | Comments

News and Views

2014 WDW Marathon Weekend—the race to register | New eats coming to Epcot's Morocco Pavilion | Star Wars Weekends update | Construction notes | Quick takes | Crowd update

2014 WDW Marathon Weekend—the race to register

In a March 27 posting to his Facebook wall, Bart Yasso, Chief Running Officer at Runner's World magazine, noted, "I remember when the hardest part of being a marathoner was running 26.2. Today the hardest part is getting thru the marathon entry process." Yasso may have been referring to that day's record sellout of the Marine Corps Marathon, but the comment resonated last Tuesday when early registration opened for the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon weekend events.

Though early registration was intended as a perk for Annual Passholders, Disney Vacation Club members, and Disney Visa cardholders, as well as those registering for the special packages offered through Runner's World, some runners quickly found a page in the registration system hosted by Active.com that allowed anyone to register early for the popular events, with no requirement of proof of membership. And although that registration page was later edited to state that "entries are very limited for early booking and will only be valid for members," at no point in the registration process did it ask you to provide membership information.

MousePlanet's Lani Teshima noted that this isn't the first time runners have had problems with registrations hosted by Active.com, saying the company "had apparently bungled the Chicago Marathon registration process really badly (some people were double and even triple-charged), and they made a huge mess of things for the Marine Corps Marathon registration last week. Not a good track record." Active.com also posted details of the 2014 WDW events, including the as-yet-unnanounced new 10K and Dopey Challenge, days before RunDisney officially announced its event invitation.

Open registration officially begins tomorrow, Tuesday, April 9, and until it does we won't have an idea of how many people registered during the early entry window. Some fear the inaugural Walt Disney World 10K may be at or near capacity when registration officially opens at noon Eastern Standard Time. The inaugural Disneyland 10K sold out in just over three hours, the half-marathon sold out in just over a day, and the Dumbo Double Dare challenge for both events sold out in even less time. Though the Florida events are both larger than their California counterparts, the rapid pace of registration just underscores the growing popularity of sub-marathon distance races.

If you are a Walt Disney World Annual Passholder, Disney Vacation Club member or Disney Visa cardholder, we strongly recommend registering for your preferred events today before general registration opens tomorrow. We also advise using the links below instead of the "open" link, just in case Disney does find a way to enforce the "will only be valid for members" clause on that registration page.

Once you've registered, be sure to head over to our Team MousePlanet forum to add yourself to the race roster and chat with other runners.

Whenever you register, you'll find two major changes for 2014. For the first time ever, Disney is now offering a choice of men's or women's cut shirts for the marathon, half-marathon, 10K, Goofy Challenge, and Dopey Challenge events. Disney previously offered a choice of shirts only at the Princess and Tinker Bell half-marathons, but with women comprising over half of the participants at runDisney events, this is an obvious and welcome change.

Lani Teshima also noted that Disney has changed the proof-of-time requirements for the events. In the past, only runners who expected to complete a race with a pace under 12 minutes per mile were required to submit proof of time from a qualifying event to land a spot in an faster corral. For the 2014 events, Disney now requires runners to submit proof of time if they plan to finish with a pace under 14.5 minutes per mile, or they will be assigned to the very last start corral. Further, you must submit proof of time data by November 1, 2013—Runner Relations will not be permitted to change corral assignments at the race expo.

Runners with proof of time will likely be happy with this change, as it will help keep those pesky walkers (and I count myself firmly in the back-of-the-pack crowd) out of the earlier corrals, but this is also likely to result in a situation where the last corral is filled with runners who couldn't or didn't provide proof of time—who may feel compelled to push and shove their way past the pack of walkers. It's also going to mean that walkers really need to train to meet or exceed the 16-minute-per-mile pace requirement—the days of building a pad by claiming a faster time and starting in an earlier corral are over.

If you're a member of the U.S. military eligible to stay at the Shades of Green resort, check out the Military Disney Tips blog for details of special pre- and post-marathon rates.

New eats coming to Epcot's Morocco Pavilion

Disney has announced a new quick serve restaurant for Epcot's Morocco Pavilion. According to the Disney Parks Blog, "Spice Road Table will feature various small plates and refreshments inspired by the cuisine of the Mediterranean." During construction, the performing group Mo'rockin has moved to a new stage closer to the France pavillion, and the meet-and-greet with Aladdin has relocated near the Marrakesh restaurant.

Star Wars Weekends updates

Actor Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi is confirmed to appear at the 2013 Star Wars Weekends at Disney Hollywood Studios park. Williams will appear Weekend IV, June 7-9, 2013.

Disney has previously announced that actor Ray Park (Darth Maul) will appear Weekends I and II, and actor Warwick Davis (Ewok Wicket W. Warrick), will appear Weekends II and III.A full schedule has not yet been released, but Star Wars voice actors James Arnold Taylor and Ashley Eckstein are slated to return as hosts. A website that tracks appearances by Star Wars celebrities also lists Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) as appearing Weekend I, but this has not been confirmed by Disney.

Collectors may want to check out the Star Wars Weekends merchandise preview posted by WDW Merchandise Communications Manager Steven Miller. There is still no word if the Carbon Freeze Me offering will return for 2013.

Construction notes

A few interesting items appeared in the construction permit paperwork filed with Orange County last week.

  • Animal Kingdom's Dinoland U.S.A. – structural work in the Boneyard area.
  • Theater of the Stars (home of Fantasmic) at Disney Hollywood Studios – concrete replacement and electrical work in the queue area.
  • Frontierland – modifications to planters to food carts.
  • Epcot – more work on character meet-and-greet locations, this time for Mickey and Minnie, and Aladdin and Jasmine.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort – general construction and painting in the Grandstand pool area and Grandstand pool grill area.
  • Grand Floridian Resort – unspecified general construction at Victoria and Albert's restaurant.
  • Art of Animation Resort – unspecified construction at the elephant graveyard.
  • Magic Kingdom – a permit was filed for temporary Disney Visa graphics.

Construction fencing along the bridge leading into Africa and along the back side of Tusker House marks the beginning of construction to build a new home for the Festival of the Lion King. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

New FastPass+ entrances added outside the exit of the Festival of the Lion King's current theater in Camp Minnie-Mickey indicates it may be some time before the show moves. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Quick takes…

...Officials from Disney and the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando have declined to update the condition of a 4-year-old boy who was pulled from a pool aboard the Disney Fantasy cruise ship last week, but a Caring Bridge page has been established to provide updates on his condition. The page identifies the child as Chase Lykken and says, "the doctors have placed him into a medically induced coma." Chase was found unconscious in the Donald pool on March 30 while the ship was still docked in Port Canaveral prior to it leaving port on a seven-day Caribbean cruise. A donation page has also been established to help the family.

…The Weather Channel is hosting a new Magical Memories Sweepstakes, with a grand prize of a five-day, four-night vacation package for the winner and up to three guests to the winner's choice of either Walt Disney World or the Disneyland Resort. You can enter twice a day following the instructions on the contest website, and a daily winner will receive a Travel Channel hat and a Disney pin. Read the complete rules and prize description at the contest website.

…This week's Limited Time Magic event is a return of the Truck Shop to Downtown Disney Marketplace, this time offering a limited edition T-shirt for sale starting today (April 8), while supplies last.

...Zagat has come out with its list of the Most Iconic Restaurants in 15 U.S. Cities, and Walt Disney World's Victoria and Albert has made the list for the Orlando area. Though noting that "you may 'need to hock one of your kids' to pay," the reviews give the signature restaurant of the Grand Floridian Resort 29 out of 30 points for service and food, and a score of 28 for decor.

..If you couldn't get to the theme parks to buy the collection in person, a portion of the Beautifully Disney line of cosmetics is now available at the Disney Store website.

Disney Animal Kingdom park marks its 15th anniversary this month, but the only sign of the event Jeff Kober could find during a recent visit to the park was this sign at the entrance to a cast member parking area. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

We're Hiring!

Are you interested in writing for MousePlanet? We're currently looking for columnists to bring cover new areas of the Disney universe. We're especially looking for Florida locals to provide photos and information for the weekly Walt Disney World Update

If you are interested in contributing to the weekly Updates, or you have an idea for a great new column, please contact us—we'd love to hear from you!

Crowd Forecast


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."

Mid-sized crowds as we move away from the busy Spring break season. 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, April 9, 2013 5 / 10
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 5 / 10
Thursday, April 11, 2013 6 / 10
Friday, April 12, 2013 6 / 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!

  • Tuesday is the best day to visit the Magic Kingdom.
  • The resort crowd level on Saturday 6 out of 10.
  • 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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Resort Events



runDisney events

An update on upcoming runDisney events and their registration statuses:


  • Expedition Everest Challenge (May 4, 2013) – Sold out: The Challenge and the Family Edition. Still available: Kids Races for kids ages 4 to 10 and tickets for the pre-race picnic and the post-race party.
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend (October 4–5, 2013) – Registration is open for the Tower of Terror 10-Miler, Happy Haunted 5K Trail Run, Kids Races, Disney Villains Hollywood Bash. The 10-Miler is now 67 percent full.
  • Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend (November 8–9, 2013) – Registration is open for Wine & Dine Half Marathon, Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K, Kids' Races, Wine & Dine Finish Line Party). The half marathon is now at 65 percent full.


  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (January 9–12, 2014) – General registration opens tomorrow Tuesday, April 9; We strongly urge Disney Visa card holders, WDW annual passholders, and DVC members to register via early registration now. Events include the Walt Disney World Marathon, Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Walt Disney World 10K, Disney Family Fun Run 5K, Kids Races, Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, Dopey Challenge, Family Reunion Breakfast, Pasta in the Park Party.
  • Disney's Princess Half-Marathon Weekend (February 21–23, 2014) – Registration opens on Tuesday, June 11. Events include Disney's Princess Half Marathon individual and team events, Disney Royal Family 5K, Kids Races, post-5K Breakfast, and Pasta in the Park Party.

Do you participate in (or are considering signing up for) runDisney events? Visit our Team MousePlanet forum on the MousePad discussion board, where you can join our community of health-minded readers and staff.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Snow White's Scary Adventures – closed permanently for conversion to Princess Fairytale Hall.
  • Main Street Bakery – closed through May 18 for conversion to Starbucks location.
  • Mad Tea Party – closed April 10 through May 21 for refurbishment.
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress – closed May 13–15 for refurbishment.
  • Cinderella's Royal Table – closed May 13–16 for refurbishment.
  • Prince Charming Regal Carousel – closed May 28 through June 10 for refurbishment.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – closed June 17–20 for refurbishment.
  • Princess Fairytale Hall – opens 2013.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – opens 2014.


  • Fountain View Ice Cream – closed April 8 through early August for conversion to Starbucks location.
  • France pavilion ice cream shop – scheduled to open June, 2013 in location of former bakery.
  • New restroom between America and Japan pavilions – scheduled to open Fall 2013.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • No known refurbishments, but both parades (Disney Channel Rocks and Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade) have ended their run. No new parades have been announced.

This weekend marked the final performance of the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun parade at Disney Hollywood Studios. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

It was also the last week of Disney Channel Rocks. It is rumored that the space currently storing these shows will be used for new construction projects. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known refurbishments.

The push-button triggers that allowed visitors standing on a bridge over Kali River Rapids ride to squirt riders below are back in operation at Animal Kingdom. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


  • Disney's All-Star Movies Resort - Duck Pond pool closed for refurbishment April 1–12. Fantasia pool will remain open.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort – California Grill closed through late summer for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa – Beach area closed through mid-June for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa – Beach pool slide closed May 27 to June 1 for refurbishment, and the entire Beach pool area closed May 30 to June 1. The Courtyard pool will remain open.
  • Disney's Pop Century Resort – Hippy Dippy Kiddy Pool refurbishment April 1–26.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Spa closed through summer for conversion to Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort. The spa at the Grand Floridian is open during this time.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Grandstand pool closed May 13–31 for refurbishment. The High Rock Springs Pool will be open.

Water Parks

  • No known refurbishments.

The first construction trailers for the Downtown Disney renovation project are staged behind Cirque du Soleil. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. Will not be performed on the following dates in 2013:
    • May 14–18
    • May 21–25
    • July 23
    • September 17–21
    • November 5–6

Current Discounts & Promotions

Disney Visa Cardholder room discounts for June 13 through August 14

A Disney Visa Cardholder discount is available for most dates June 13 through August 14. The new promotion offers discounts of 5% - 30% off room-only bookings, with the option of adding non-discounted tickets and dining plans if desired. Rooms must be booked by June 14, 2013 to qualify.

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, three-bedroom Grand Villas, and standard rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included. Discounts vary by accommodation type and date, and availability varies by date. Discount percentages shown below are on room only. You can add non-discounted tickets and dining.

Resort Category Resort Name Discount
Value Resorts All-Star Music, All-Star Sports, Pop Century, Art of Animation Suites – 15% 15%
All-Star Movies 5%
Art of Animation Suites only (Standard Mermaid Rooms are not included) 15%
Moderate Resorts Disney's Riverside, Coronado Springs Caribbean Beach 20%
Disney's French Quarter 15%
Disney's Coronado Springs Suites 5%
Deluxe Resorts Disney's Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk Inn, Animal Kingdom Lodge 30%
Disney's Wilderness Lodge 20%
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Club Level 5%
Disney's Deluxe Resort Suites – limited availability 5%
Disney Vacation Club Resorts Disney's Old Key West, Saratoga Springs, Beach Club Villas, BoardWalk Villas 30%
Disney's Villas at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (Kidani and Jambo House) 5%
Disney's Villas at the Wilderness Lodge 20%
Disney Vacation Club Grand Villas are not included 0%

Thanks to MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations for the information.

Passholder room discounts for April through early June

A Passholder discount is available for most dates April 2 through June 3. Passholders can book this discount through the day of arrival if rooms are still available. The discount is a two-level discount, with a lower price per room if the room is booked by March 31.

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, three-bedroom Grand Villas, and standard rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included. Discounts vary by accommodation type and date, and availability varies by date.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7926 or your favorite travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Florida residents get special discount tickets through June

Florida residents can get discounted three- or four-day tickets through early June. The Discover Disney ticket provides three days of base admission for $119 plus tax, or four days for $129 plus tax. The Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun & More Options can be added for just $28.50 each, plus tax. The tickets are priced the same for adults and children.

Tickets are available for purchase from now through June 3, and may be used through June 7. Passes may not be used during the Easter peak weeks from March 23 through April 5.

For more information or to purchase tickets, check out the special deal website or call (407) 939-1283.

PhotoPass+ pre-arrival discount

Disney's PhotoPass service provides a discount on Disney PhotoPass+ pre-arrival packages. For $149.95 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 more than 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 are 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 might 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.

These tickets expire after September 28. Blockout dates are March 24 through April 4 at all ticketed locations, and July 4 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 four-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 through September 28.

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 Adrienne here.