Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
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Update for December 29, 2014 – January 5, 2015

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

News and Views

Illuminations Sparkling Dessert Party reservations open for early 2015 | Disney announces new UK discounts | Reactions to new Disney's Polynesian Village Resort lobby | Views around the World This and That | Crowd update

Illuminations Sparkling Dessert Party reservations open for early 2015

Visitors traveling to Walt Disney World in January and February can now make reservations for Epcot's IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party.

The party, which debuted earlier in 2014, allows park visitors a chance to have dessert while securing a reserved viewing area for the popular IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. The party runs on select Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. 

Cost for the party is $49 for adults and $29 for children ages 3 through 9.

To make a reservation, call (407) WDW-DINE (408-939-3463) or visit the official Walt Disney World dining website.

Disney announces new UK discounts

UK residents looking to go to Walt Disney World in 2015 have a new discount package offers to consider: four free nights when booking a stay seven nights or longer at a Disney hotel for select dates in 2015, plus Disney’s Ultimate 14-Day ticket for the price of 7. Applicable to arrivals from February 1 through December 6, 2015, These offers are subject to availability and restrictions apply; see official website for full details. This offer must be booked by March 31, 2015.

Here is a summary of the free night offer from Walt Disney World to its UK visitors:

Book a stay for: At Moderate and Value resorts, get: At Deluxe or Deluxe Villa resorts, get:

Seven to 13 nights

One free night

Two free nights

14 to 20 nights

Two free nights

Four free nights

21 or more nights

Three free nights

Six free nights

Reactions to new Disney's Polynesian Village Resort lobby

Last week's update provided a glimpse at the new lobby of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, which went under a long refurbishment process. 

This week, the resort officially unveiled the new lobby to the public, even though there are still other details to be added in coming weeks.

Rumors about what changes Disney would make were confirmed or squashed upon the lobby's re-introduction. The biggest change is the removal of what many fans considered the iconic, large waterfall in exchange for a smaller, more understated water flow from a tower of rocks.

The lobby space has a more open feel and seating is plentiful around the area. 

Overall reaction to this change may not be what Disney hoped, and it could be seen across the Internet. Some examples posted from Facebook include:

"It's very nice, the old style Hawaiian charm of the Polynesian Is officially dead, but it looks really nice." – Gary R. Pelletier

"Very sad….. It doesn't feel like you're in the Islands anymore!" – Kristina Fannon Hauser

"When you think about the other lobby's at the deluxe resorts this does not compare in any way, it doesn't have the wow factor and the fact that the Poly is one of the most expensive resorts it does not quantify/do it justice." – Nicky Williams

 "Looks nice but no wow factor." – Cheryl Maccianco

Another Polynesian Village Resort icon, the large tiki statue, makes its return to the lobby in the spring. 

Views around the World

As we say goodbye to 2014, the new year promises more updates and changes at Walt Disney World. MousePlanet photographer J. Jeff Kober made numerous stops around the resort to get the latest on construction projects.

Magic Kingdom

The former Island Supply Company will soon re-open as a Sunglass Hut in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Epcot

IBM THINK in Innoventions West at Epcot closes permanently on January 1, 2015. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Test The Limits at Innoventions East in Epcot will close permanently on January 6, 2015. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

On January 5, Flame Tree Barbecue closes for a three month renovation to prepare it as a venue for viewing the future nighttime show. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney Springs/Downtown Disney

From the new parking structure, we can see continued work on the escalator structure that will connect the parking lot to Disney Springs. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

With the old lagoon drained, work continues on new construction between Planet Hollywood and the old Pleasure Island. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The Adventurer's Club is also under the knife, being remodeled into a new facility. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The Hangar restaurant emerges behind the new gathering square. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The Boathouse is receiving a paint job behind the scaffolding. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

From the shoreline, the Marketplace Causeway seems to be close to being finalized, sans any retail outlets that might take up residence. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Here's what the path will look like when guests step onto the Marketplace Causeway. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This and That

...Dole Whip lovers can now find their favorite frozen fruity treat at Sunshine Tree Terrace in the Magic Kingdom, according to Disney Parks Blog.

...Disney filed official notices of commencement last weekend as expansion work continues around the resort. Richard Bilbao of the Orlando Press reported that among the notices filed, three Disney attractions and/or restaurants will see some upgrades, including:

  • Haunted Mansion – fire sprinkler work
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant – mechanical improvements
  • Pangani Forest Exploration Trail – aesthetic upgrades

...Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort VoluntEARS supported the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots annual drive. Cast members donated more than 6,000 hours of service to help sort donations and distribute toys to families in need. Disney Cruise Line hosted toy drives on board its ships, at its home port in Port Canaveral, Florida, and in its shore-side offices. VoluntEARS at Disneyland Paris hosted “Mission Noel," where they wrapped gifts for children from local communities who were invited to the park for Christmas Eve brunch. In total, Disney cast members donated more than 40,000 toys, books, and games.

...New Walt Disney World merchandise celebrating 2015 features new artwork that highlights the popular characters expressing their "Disney Side," according to Disney Design Group Artist Thomas Scott. “For the 2015 artwork, we imagined the Disney characters were showing off their Disney Side just like our guests do when visiting Disney Parks,” he explained to Disney Parks Blog. “We dressed the characters in products we carry such as the Buzz Lightyear costume T-shirt that Goofy is wearing. Sorcerer Mickey has been included in the dated art program for a few years. This time, we put a Sorcerer’s hat on Mickey Mouse that resembles the hat we carry in our merchandise shops. I thought it was a great nod to that artwork tradition.”

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MousePlanet is seeking Orlando-based photographers to share their theme park observations and photos with our readers. If you're an excellent photographer with strong communication skills, please contact us—we'd love to hear from you!

Crowd Forecast

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"Do more. Wait less."


This is one of Walt Disney World's busiest weeks of the year. Arrive early and prepare yourself for huge crowds.

TouringPlans.com can help you avoid falling into the typical tourist pitfalls 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, December 30, 2014 10 / 10
Wednesday, December 31, 2014 10 / 10
Thursday, January 1, 2015 9 / 10
Friday, January 2, 2015 10 / 10

Check out the Disney World Park Crowd Levels page on TouringPlans.com for park-specific predictions and recommendations on which days to visit and avoid particular parks!

  • Thursday is the best day to visit the Magic Kingdom.
  • The resort crowd level on Saturday 8 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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Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Stephanie here.
Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

Resort Events

2014

2015

runDisney events

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.

2015

2016

  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 6–10, 2016. Registration opens April 28.
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 18–21, 2016. Registration opens July 14.

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.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Resorts

  • Polynesian – Never Land Club Children's Activity Center closed for refurbishment through January 1.
  • Polynesian – refurbishment of the lobby ongoing.

Water Parks

  • Blizzard Beach – the the entire park closed January 4 through March 3.

Elsewhere

  • 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.

Current Discounts & Promotions

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

  • Stay, Play and Dine Discount Requires a 3-night stay with at least 2 days of tickets.
  • Booking Dates: Now through December 29, 2014
  • Travel Dates: January 5 through March 7, 2015.
  • Not all dates and resorts available. Subject to availability
  • Disney Value Resorts: Magic Your Way with Quick Service Dining Package Required
  • Disney Moderate, Deluxes and Deluxe Vacation Villa Resorts: Magic Your Way Plus Dine Package Required
  • Excludes: Little Mermaid Rooms at Disney's Art of Animation, Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian, Disney's Bay Lake Tower, Disney's Fort Wilderness Campsites, Disney's Polynesian Villas, 3-bedroom Villas at Disney's Deluxe Vacation Villa Resorts

Room Only Discount Tickets and Dining Can be Added

  • Booking Dates: Now through December 29, 2014
  • Travel January 5 through March 28, 2015
  • Excludes Little Mermaid Rooms at Disney's Art of Animation, Disney's Grand Floridian Villas, Disney's Bay Lake Tower, Disney's Fort Wilderness Campsites, Disney's Polynesian Villas, all 3-bedroom villas at Disney's Deluxe Villa Resorts
  • All Discounts are not guaranteed and are subject to limited availability.

Specific discounts:

  • Disney Value Resorts (except Disney's All Star Movies) – 15% weekends; 20% weekdays
    • Disney's All Star Movies – 10% weekends; 15% weekdays
  • Disney's Moderate Resorts (except as listed below) – 25% weekdays; 20% weekends
    • Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter – 10% weekend; 15% weekday
    • Disney's Coronado Springs Suites – 10% weekday and weekend
  • Disney Deluxe Resorts (unless listed below) – 30% weekday and weekend
    • Disney Animal Kingdom Lodge Savannah View and Club Level – 20% weekday and weekend
    • Disney Deluxe Resort Suites – 10% weekday and weekend
    • Disney Deluxe Vacation Villas – 30% weekday and weekend: Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, Beach Club Villas and BoardWalk Villas 
    • Villas at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge – 20% weekday and weekend

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 $199 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 $169, a $30 savings. Applicable taxes are charged to all orders.

Purchase 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

 None at this time.

Discounts for Disney Rewards VISA & Debit Card Holders

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:

  • 5 percent off All Star Movies, Port Orleans French Quarter, Bay Lake Tower, suites at Coronado Springs
  • 15 percent off Art of Animation family suites
  • 20 percent off select rooms at Wilderness Lodge & Villas, Contemporary, Grand Floridian and Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas, Beach Club Villas
  • 25 percent off Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Port Orleans Riverside, Cabins at Ft Wilderness
  • 30 percent off Saratoga Springs, Old Key West, Boardwalk Villas, Wilderness Lodge, Beach Club, Yacht Club, Polynesian Resort, Animal Kingdom Lodge

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:

  • Magic Kingdom Park
    • Disney's Family Magic Tour
    • Disney's Keys to the Kingdom Tour
    • Disney's The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour
    • Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom Tour
  • Epcot
    • Gardens of the World (offered seasonally)
    • The UnDISCOVERed Future World
    • Disney's Dolphins in Depth
    • Epcot DiveQuest
    • Epcot Seas Aqua Tours
    • Epcot Behind the Seeds (15 percent discount)
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
    • Wild by Design
    • Backstage Safari
  • Multiple Theme Parks and Backstage Areas
    • Backstage Magic
    • Disney's Holiday D-Lights (offered seasonally)
    • Disney's Yuletide Fantasy (offered seasonally)

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.

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge – Sanaa (Lunch)
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort – The Wave (Breakfast and Lunch)
  • Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – Trail's End Restaurant (Breakfast and Lunch)
  • Disney's Old Key West Resort – Olivia's Café (Breakfast and Lunch)
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Turf Club (Lunch)
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge – Whispering Canyon Café (Lunch)
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort – Captain's Grill (Breakfast and Lunch)

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

14 days for 7-day park tickets plus up to 4 nights free in 2015.

Get up to 4 FREE nights when you book a 7-night or longer stay at a Disney hotel for select dates in 2015 and you can also get Disney’s Ultimate 14-Day ticket for the price of 7 offer! Applicable to arrivals between February 1 and December 6, subject to availability. Restrictions apply – see official website for details.

  • Get 1 FREE night at Disney Moderate and Value Resorts or 2 FREE nights at Disney Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts for a between 7 and 13 nights.
  • Get 2 FREE nights at Disney Moderate and Value Resorts or 4 FREE nights at Disney Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts for a stay between 14 and 20 nights
  • Get 3 FREE nights at Disney Moderate and Value Resorts or 6 FREE nights at Disney Deluxe or Deluxe Villa Resorts for a stay of 21 nights.
Book by March 31, 2015.

Discounts for Canada Residents

 None at this time.



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