Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
Update for December 16 – 22, 2014
Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Resort Events | Refurbishments and Attraction Closures | Discounts and Promotions
Disney's Polynesian Village Resort refurbishment updates | Taste of Hollywood To Go package returns | Purchase park tickets through My Disney Experience app | Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special returns to Disney's Hollywood Studios | Disney's Meg Crofton to retire in 2015 | Disney CEO discusses new Star Wars theme park connections | Views from Around "the World" | Walt Disney World Holiday Event Guide | Discussion of the Week | Crowd update
Last week, fans learned more about Disney's Polynesian Village Resort Villas and Bungalows from Disney Parks Blog.
Part of the new Disney Vacation Club offerings at the Polynesian includes 20 new bungalows, each of which can sleep up to eight. These bungalows offer a setting that feels more like a home than a hotel. The project also includes a plunge pool over the Seven Seas Lagoon and a spectacular view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
Disney also plans to open the largest deluxe studios found on resort property with their new villas. The "360 Deluxe Studios" sleep up to five guests and the ability to connect to another deluxe studio. This addition marks the first time Disney offers this feature in a Disney Vacation Club Resort. Each room has a kitchenette and extra storage space. Each connected room has a bathroom separated into two areas, one with a sink and show and the other with a tub/shower and sink.
Disney Parks Blog reported that, as with other Disney Vacation Club Resorts, all Disney's Polynesian Resort Villas and Bungalows can be rented by guests when not occupied by a Disney Vacation Club member. The official first-phase opening date has not been set as of this update, but Disney Parks Blog reported it will be sometime in 2015.
As crowds continue to build at the Walt Disney World theme parks for the holiday season, Disney's Hollywood Studios is offering the Taste of Hollywood To Go Winter Fantasmic! package from December 24 through 31.
The park previously offered this package to help alleviate congestion in its quick serve and table service dining locations. This time around, there are five different picnic-style packages:
- Cold-cut roast beef with creamy horseradish, potato salad, grilled asparagus, and chocolate cake
- California roll and and tuna sushi roll, with avocado, orange and tomato salad, ginger-marinated tomatoes and cucumbers, and a spicy pecan chocolate cluster
- Golden fried chicken, with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, sweet corn and carrots, and warm apple crisp
- Shrimp salad, with fresh pita, ginger-marinated tomato and cucumbers, and Mandarin orange cheesecake
- Veggie sandwich made with ginger-marinated tomatoes and cucumbers, with quinoa salad, and chocolate cake.
The package also includes two kids menu offerings:
- Turkey and American cheese wrap, apples and carrots, ranch dip, strawberry yogurt, and a seven-layer cookie bar
- Strawberry yogurt, apple wedges, carrot sticks, Goldfish crackers, and an apple and cinnamon oatmeal bar
In addition to the meal, guests receive a reserved viewing ticket for Fantastic at a preferred location in the theater. Preferred seating requires guests to bring their To-Go Package meal receipt. Since this is first-come, first-served, make sure to arrive early for the best seats.
To make a reservation, call (407) WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).
You can now purchase park tickets directly through your iOS and Android smartphone My Disney Experience application.
According to Ricki Niblett from our sponsor TouringPlans.com, in addition to the existing features of the My Disney Experience app, such as making Fastpass+ reservations or dining reservations, you can now a buy tickets as well, allowing you to choose the tickets you want to purchase based on the guest's age, as well as how many days for a multi-day, and adding options such as park hopping.
Before you can make your final purchase of the tickets, the app requires that you assign them to those on your friends and family list. Doing so will allow your party to then make Fastpass+ reservations through the app.
As of now, this app feature can only be used by residents of the U.S. and Canada, and tickets must be purchased with U.S. dollars.
Disney's Hollywood Studios welcomes back Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special as part of its special entertainment offerings for the holidays, .
According to various online sources, the part-holiday show, part-improvisational comedy experience offers a family-friendly and humorous spin on the holiday season including on the spot Christmas carols, improvised re-tellings of classic holiday stories and more. The performers work quickly and always look for willing audience participants to get in on the fun. The show dates back to Disney's Pleasure Island when the Comedy Warehouse served as a nightly fixture for those wanting a good laugh. The best part of these shows: guests can watch them multiple times because the content changes from show to show, based on audience participation.
To catch the show, visit Disney's Hollywood Studios' Superstar Television Theater (the former home of the American Idol Experience) from December 20, 2014 through January 4, 2015. Each show lasts 20 minutes and runs daily at 12:45 p.m., 1:45 p.m., 2:45 p.m., 5:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. On New Year's Eve, the schedule changes to 2:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., 4:00 p.m., 5:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
As with any live show, schedules can change, so check the park's time guide when you arrive.
Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts' U.S. and France operations plans to retire on June 1, 2015.
According to an Orlando Sentinel report, her retirement comes after serving in her current position since 2011. Before Crofton's tenure in that position, she served as persident of the Walt Disney World Resort in 2006. Overall, Crofton has worked with Disney for 35 years and is now based out of Disney's headquarters in Burbank, California.
The Orlando Sentinel cited an internal memo from Crofton, who reflected on her reasons for retirement. "I wanted to leave while I had plenty of juice for the next chapter in my life," she said. She added that she and her husband plan to live in San Francisco after her retirement.
Disney has not announced Crofton's successor as of this update.
Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger recently shared more details about how the company plans to integrate Star Wars into its theme parks around the world.
In an exclusive article from Variety, Iger said that fans shouldn't expect to see any significant additions or changes in the theme parks in the near future. In fact, he pointed toward waiting until the latest Star Wars installment, The Force Awakens is released worldwide.
Iger said, “I slowed it all down so what we come forward with will have a blend of the past, present and maybe the future,” referencing upcoming sequels and spinoff films. “Now we have a sense of what’s in ‘Star Wars 8,’ and what some of the standalone films will have in them.”
Changes continue to be the buzzword around Walt Disney World, even during the holiday season. Crews in and around the theme parks work to bring guests new experiences and locations to enjoy during their next Disney family vacation. Let's take peek at what's been going on over the past week.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
Disney's Hollywood Studios
This may be the last year the Christmas tree at Disney's Hollywood Studios appears outside the park entrance. With the removal of the Sorcerer's Hat, it may return to its original location in front of The Great Movie Ride. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Heading to Walt Disney World during the holiday season? Here's a helpful guide of all the special events happening around the resort to help you plan a magical holiday trip.
A Frozen Holiday Wish – The Walt Disney World holiday season kicked off with a live streaming event of the new A Frozen Holiday Wish show in front of Cinderella Castle. According to Disney Parks Blog, the resort will share a number of live streaming events throughout the season. Didn't get a chance to catch the live stream? Watch the following video:
A Frozen Holiday Wish Show. Video by Disney Parks.
You can also head over to our MousePad forum to get a full review of the show.
Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party – This annual hard-ticket event shows off the best and and most festive side of Walt Disney World during the holidays.
The event runs from 7 p.m. to midnight on select nights through December 19. In addition to returning Christmas Party attractions like the the fireworks show, this year debuts new Frozen additions to Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, a new meet-and-greet with Jack Skellington as Sandy Claws in Storybook Circus, and the "Holiday Hootenanny!" at the Diamond Horseshoe.
The Entertainment Schedule is packed, so you'll need to decide what's most important to see during your five hours at the party:
- Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas Parade featuring the Frozen characters – 8:15 and 10:30 p.m.
- A Frozen Holiday Wish – 6:15 and 8:00 p.m.
- Celebrate the Magic – 9:15 p.m.
- Holiday Wishes – 9:30 p.m.
- Celebrate the Season – 7:30, 10:05, and 11:20 p.m.
Since A Frozen Holiday Wish and Celebrate the Magic are offered on non-party nights, you can safely skip those and see them another night if you want to maximize your party time.
There are two dance parties, with some interesting characters you might not normally see:
- Holiday Hootenanny at the Diamond Horseshoe, featuring the Country Bears, Clarabelle Cow, Horace Horsecollar, and Clara Cluck.
- Club Tinsel at Cosmic Rays, featuring Phineas and Ferb
Plus, there are 18 Character Appearance spots marked on the event map. The big new addition is Sandy Claws, making his first event appearance at Storybook Circus.
Cocoa and cookies (or "healthy alternatives," should you want them) are available at:
- Sunshine Tree Terrace
- Tortuga Tavern
- Columbia Harbour House
- Pinocchio Village Haus
- Tomorrowland Terrace
- Cosmic Ray's Starlight Caf
- The Crystal Palace
Event merchandise, including a pin, T-shirt, ornament, and limited edition Magic Band, are available at:
- Frontier Trading Post – pin only
- Ye Olde Christmas Shop – shirts, pin, ornaments only
- Big Top Souvenirs – Magic Band only
- Star Traders – shirt and pin only
Most park rides are open during the event, including the Jingle Cruise and the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Based on wait times during Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, cast members said the line for the Mine Train is only about 30 minutes. I'm not a big fan of doing rides during the special events, since you can do those during normal operating hours, but people who could not get a Fastpass+ for this new ride may want to take advantage of the shortest standby lines you're likely to see.
Epcot is beautiful and lots of fun during the holiday season with a series of events that all ages will love:
An International Yuletide Extravaganza – Experience a world of cheer with unique entertainment celebrating the spirit of the season. Share in the sights and sounds of some of the world’s greatest holiday festivities during Holidays Around the World at Epcot. Amid joyful music and seasonal food favorites, time-honored traditions come alive as costumed performers share their country’s holiday heritage throughout World Showcase.
Candlelight Processional – World Showcase, American Gardens Theatre at 5:00pm, 6:45pm, and 8:15pm
One of the most beloved holiday traditions at Epcot is the Candlelight Processional, a retelling of the Christmas story by a celebrity narrator accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and a mass choir.
- December 15 to 17 – Chita Rivera
- December 18 to 20 – Ana Gasteyer (new on the schedule)
- December 21 to 23 – Marlee Matlin
- December 24 and 25 – Isabella Rossellini
- December 26 and 27 – Blair Underwood
- December 28 to 30 – Steven Curtis Chapman
Located at the America Gardens Theater. This spectacle is held on select nights, and due to its popularity, often fills up quickly. Unless Guests have purchases a Candlelight Dinner Package, attendance is on a first-come, first-served basis. All entertainment and celebrity narrators are subject to change without notice.
For the hearing impaired, an American Sign Language interpreter translates the legendary account, allowing guests of all kinds the opportunity to enjoy the event.
Candlelight Processional Dining Packages – If you want to ensure that you have a seat at a Candlelight Processional performance, you can purchase one of Disney's Candlelight Dining Packages that are available on select nights during the holiday season. These packages include a meal and a guaranteed seat for one Candlelight performance. Call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) to make your reservation. These packages are popular and sell out quickly, so don't wait too long to book it.
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth – World Showcase Lagoon, nightly at 9:30pm
The World Showcase Promenade comes alive nightly with the brilliance and splendor of music, lights, lasers, water fountains, and custom pyrotechnics in Disney's signature nighttime spectacular, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. From November 28 through December 30, Disney presents a unique finale to celebrate the season. With the song "Let There Be Peace on Earth" at its center, this special musical finale features a special message of peace and good will.
Holiday Storytellers – World Showcase, daily from November 28 through December 29
Throughout the holidays, World Showcase comes alive with the legends and lore of the season. Listen to the stories of France's Père Noël, Italy's La Befana, and the United Kingdom's Father Christmas. Please refer to the Times Guides for show times.
Epcot Holiday Merchandise
Be sure to stop by Santa’s Village in The American Adventure where you can get your favorite gifts from toys to stocking stuffers and all your Christmas tree trimmings. No matter where you go in Epcot you will find the perfect holiday gift.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
Disney's Hollywood Studios offers its Frozen Holiday Premium Package November 7 through 19, November 21 through December 9, and December 11 through January 4, 2015. The new VIP package gives fans exclusive opportunities throughout their day at the park, including:
- Reserved seating for a performance of "For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration"
- Reserved viewing for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
- A Frozen-themed dessert party with special Anna and Elsa cupcakes and other sweets
- A holiday-themed lithograph
- A Frozen pin
Tickets for this VIP experience costs $89 (plus tax) per adult, and $59 (plus tax) per child ages 3–9. These prices include gratuity.
To make a reservation, call (407) 939-1854.
MousePad discussion forum member PinkFloyd is looking for help in choosing the perfect Walt Disney World resort for her family:
After countless hours of researching and crunching numbers, I'm about ready to throw in the towel decide to do our usually yearly trip to DL instead of Disney World. If anyone can provide some guidance I would be very appreciative.
We are looking at October 20th-November 7th 2015Cost is somewhat of an issue because I am frugal by nature. Hubby says this will probably be the only trip we go on with the kiddos who will be 5 and 8 at that time. I'd like to keep hotel and food $4000 or less since we will be flying from Las Vegas.Convenience is a big consideration. I don't want to spend a lot of time waiting for buses and when we are done for the day we want to get back to our rooms fast and crash.Some of my thoughts:
I always dreamed at staying at the Contemporary, but I know it will be out of budget. If we can get a DVC Bay Lake tower for our dates it would be $2016. I like the convenience MK since I think this will be where we will spend most of our days.DVC Boardwalk Villas are only $1492 and easy access to Epcot and Studios
Pop Century - Since we might not be able to get a DVC room, this would be our cheapest options. My thought is since we have to take buses everywhere else and this does have a dedicated bus, how inconvenience is this option? Plus, might be nice if free Disney Dining is available for our dates.Thanks for any input!
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Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.
- Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party – December 16, 18, 19
- Richard Petty's Junior Ride-Along Experience – at the Richard Petty's Driving Experience
- Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 7–11, 2015.
- Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 19–22, 2015.
If 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.
- Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 7–11, 2015. Most events sold out.
- Disney Castaway Cay Challenge – January 12, 2015 – sailing on the Disney Dream cruise ship.
- Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 19–22, 2015. All races are sold out, but some associated events are still available.
- Expedition Everest – May 1–2, 2015. Registration opens December 16, 2014
- Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – November 6–7. Registration opens March 17, 2015.
- Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 6–10, 2016. Registration opens April 28, 2015.
- Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 18–21, 2016. Registration opens July 14, 2015.
For current information on registration dates and capacity, see Lorree Tachell's runDisney Race Capacity Updates in the Team MousePlanet forum on our MousePad discussion board.
- The Haunted Mansion – closed through December 19 for refurbishment.
- Wishes Nighttime Spectacular – replaced December 20–31 by Holiday Wishes.
- Splash Mountain – closed January 4–30, 2015.
- Cinderella's Royal Table – closed January 5 through March 6, 2015 for refurbishment.
- Liberty Square Riverboat – closed January 23–27, 2015 for refurbishment.
- Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid – closed February 2 through March 6, 2015 for refurbishment.
- Harmony Barber Shop – closed February 2 through March 30, 2015 (dates subject to change).
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed March 4– 7, 2015 for refurbishment
- "it's a small world" – closed March 10–15, 2015 for refurbishment
- Fantasmic! – closed November 19–21 for refurbishment.
- Flame Tree Barbecue – January 5 through March 31, 2015
- Kali River Rapids – closed January 20 through February 4, 2105; March 10–13, 2015.
As previously reported by MousePlanet, some refrigerators in non-Disney Vacation Club rooms at Walt Disney World are being replaced due to a product defect. All Walt Disney World Resort rooms—with the exception of DVC Villas, the family suites at the Art of Animation and All-Star Movie resorts, and the cabins at Fort Wilderness—are impacted. Disney says "the schedule for replacing the refrigerators at these Resorts is expected to last several months."
In the interim, if you have a reservation at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and need a refrigerator for medical reasons, we recommend contacting your resort directly to inquire about availability during your trip. The hotel should be able to arrange for one if your room does not yet have a new refrigerator, but supplies may be limited while they work to replace all of the malfunctioning units.
- All Star Music Resort – refurbishment of its Intermission Food Court is scheduled for reopening on December 21, according to our sponsor TouringPlans.com.
- Polynesian – Never Land Club Children's Activity Center closed for refurbishment through January 1, 2015.
- Polynesian – refurbishment of the lobby ongoing.
- Wilderness Lodge – refurbishment of its Silver Creek Springs Pool through late November 2014.
- Typhoon Lagoon – the entire park closed through December 20 for refurbishment.
- Blizzard Beach – the the entire park closed January 4, 2015 through March 3, 2015.
- Disney Osprey Ridge Golf Course – permanently closed.
- Downtown Disney Lots H, I, J, and K (in Westside area) closed until further notice for Disney Springs construction.
- Downtown Disney Bridge 4 and restrooms on Pleasure Island are temporarily closed for ongoing construction work.
- Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Note: MousePlanet does not edit past Updates to reflect price increases; for up-to-date prices, check the most recent Walt Disney World Resort Update. For your convenience, we have grouped the discount offers based on the intended audience. Check out the category that best matches you, and pick the offer that works best for you. And keep those tips coming—let us know if you find a better or different offer, so we can share it with other readers!
Discounts for Everyone
2014 Free Dining offer for general public
Sue from Small World Vacations reports the general public can book Stay/Play/Dine Discounts through December 29, 2014. Offer details:
Stay / Play / Dine Discounted Magic Your Way Packages
Room Only Discount – Tickets and Dining Can be Added
Call your travel agent, contact Small World Vacations, or call Walt Disney Travel at (407) 939-7741 to book these offers.
Memory Maker pre-arrival discount
Disney's PhotoPass service provides a discount on Disney Memory Maker pre-arrival packages. For $169 plus tax, Walt Disney World guests can digitally download any photos associated with their Memory Maker account, including photos taken on attractions. The advanced purchase price is a $40 savings. Applicable taxes are charged to all orders.
Special offer only available from this link, and must be made more than three days prior to arrival at the Walt Disney World Resort. All sales are final, and not eligible for an exchange or refund.
Discounts for Annual Passholders
Rates starting at $79 per night on select dates this fall
Disney released new fall discounts for annual passholders for the following travel dates: Now through December 23, 2014. Rates begin at $79 for value resorts (Sunday through Thursday stays) and go up from there. Book through December 20, 2014.
Advance reservations required. No group rates or other discounts apply.
Length of stay requirements
Discounts only applied to travel dates that are valid offer travel dates
Additional per adult charges may apply if more than two adults per room
Number of rooms allocated for this discount is limited.
Discounts for Disney Rewards VISA & Debit Card Holders
2014 Free Dining Offer for Disney Rewards VISA & Debit Card Holders
Sue from Small World Vacations reports the Disney Rewards VISA and Debit Card Holders can now get a free dining discount when booking a qualifying Walt Disney World vacation package.
2014 Vacation Dates
Free Quick Service Plan
Free Table Service Dining Plan
Room and ticket discount for travel dates from February 24 through June 15
No discounts available March 6–14 and April 13–19. Buy a minimum four day ticket and get a day free.
Room discounts include:
20 percent off select guided tours
Disney Visa cardholders receive 20 percent off the non-discounted price of selected guided tours for up to 10 people. The cardholder must participate in the tour, and pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card. Tours included:
10 percent off select restaurants
Disney Visa cardholders receive 10 percent off the check when you pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card (be sure to request the discount). Discount excludes alcohol.
10 percent off merchandise
Disney Visa cardholders receive 10 percent off at participating Disney-owned retail location when you spend a minimum of $50 and pay with a Disney's Visa Card and/or Disney Rewards Redemption Card (be sure to request the discount). Read all of the restrictions on the Disney Visa website.
Free 5" x 7" character photo at a private meet and greet location at Epcot
Present your Disney's Premier Visa Card or Disney Rewards Visa Card for access to a private character meet and greet at Epcot for the cardholder and up to five guests. The event is hosted daily from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. inside Innoventions West at Epcot. You'll receive one free 5" x 7" character photo per day.
Discounts for Florida Residents
|None at this time.|
Discounts for U.K. Residents
2014 Free Dining offer for U.K. residents
2014 Free Dining offers for U.K. residents have been released. From the information posted on the Virgin Holidays website, it appears the 2014 program offers free Quick Service Dining Plan plan when booking at a Moderate resort, and free Dining Plan when booking at Deluxe resorts, Old Key West or Saratoga Springs. There are also offers for a free $200 Disney Gift Card and/or a 14-day ticket for the price of a seven-day ticket depending on travel dates. These particular offers are valid for U.K. residents only.
Discounts for Canada Residents
Fall 2014 Free Dining offer for Canada residents
Free Quick Service Plan
Free Table Service Dining Plan for moderate resorts
Free Table Service Dining Plan for deluxe resorts
Free Table Service Dining Plan for deluxe villa resorts
Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Marie here.