Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer

Update for January 6 – 12, 2015

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

News and Views

Sorcerer's Hat deconstruction begins January 7 | New Balance to release limited edition, retro running shoe | Disney offers Cinderella Castle Suite stay in new contest | Views around the World | This and That | Crowd update

Sorcerer's Hat deconstruction begins January 7

Deconstruction of Disney's Hollywood Studios' icon, the Sorcerer's Hat, begins this week on January 7. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney confirmed last week that deconstruction Hollywood Studios' Sorcerer's Hat starts tomorrow, January 7. The company had announced the removal of the park's icon back in October 2014, but finally confirmed the demolition start date on January 2 according to the according to the Orlando Sentinel.

The hat, which debuted in 2001 and stands 122 feet tall, served as a larger-than-life tribute to the classic Disney movie Fantasia, where Mickey Mouse steals the hat from his wizard master Yensid only to find that magic isn't as simple as he thought. The hat also had a retail store featuring various souvenirs, particularly official trading pins. The park plans to relocate the merchandise to a Sunset Boulevard retail shop.

While Disney confirmed the demolition start-date, the company provided no timeline to the projects completion nor made any announcements regarding a new location for the icon. Based on this, it appears that fans will say their final farewell starting this week to their beloved hat.

New Balance to release limited edition, retro running shoe

As runners arrive to Florida for this weekend's Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, fans of the runDisney-branded New Balance shoes once again have the rare opportunity to purchase the shoe manufacturer's high-demand, limited-inventory shoes.

Last Friday, New Balance posted an announcement at its website offering a sneak peek to its newest addition to the line-up of runDisney shoes. Referred to as the "Retro Mickey" and "Retro Minnie" models, New Balance is introducing these shoes, along with its existing runDisney shoes, during the WDW Marathon expo at the Wide World of Sports this week.

The official press release explains how the company was inspired by the iconic Disney animated short "Steamboat Willie" in its new shoe design. The shoes themselves are model 990v3, a motion control shoe and part of the 990 line-up, which has been part of the New Balance collection since 1982. [Editor's note: Steve Jobs, who at one point headed Pixar, always wore a pair of New Balance 991, which looks very similar to the 990.]

Those who have shied away from runDisney New Balance shoes in the past because the models were too technical or too colorful for normal wear should take a look at these Retro Mickey and Retro Minnie models. The colors will be neutral (likely a combination of grays with some black), and the model is a favorite among those who want a solid pair walking shoes or casual office shoes. If you haven't been able to sport your bright orange Goofy shoes at work, you might be able to show your Disney side with a pair of Retro Mickeys to go with your Mickey golf shirt or Mickey tie.

New Balance offered a sneak peek at its new retro design for Disney in 2015. The design was inspired by "Steamboat Willie". Promotional photo by New Balance.

New Balance is once again offering it Fastpass-style virtual queue system throughout the weekend, allowing you to sign up online for a return time to try on and purchase the shoes. If you are officially registered for any of the races and have a bib number, you can sign up for the queue tomorrow morning (Wednesday, January 7) at 6:00. If you miss that window, you will be able to sign up again on Friday morning. If you are not racing and do not have a racing bib number, the earliest that you can sign up is Thursday morning, although you can also sign up for Saturday morning.

In addition to the new retro design line, New Balance announced the return of last year's shoe collection including the 860v4 Sorcerer Mickey and Pink Minnie in addition to the 890v4 Goofy and Cinderella shoes. This collection will be available during both the Walt Disney World Marathon and the Star Wars Half Marathon.

Disney offers Cinderella Castle Suite stay in new contest

Ever dream of staying in the Cinderella Castle Suite right in the middle of the Magic Kingdom? Walt Disney World's latest contest offers a chance to not only make that dream come true, but gives winners a chance to experience a full resort vacation.

The Disney “Flip” Side sweepstakes will award 31 winners in January a 5-day/4-night vacation at Walt Disney World for four that includes:
  • a 1-night stay at the Cinderella Castle Suite in the Magic Kingdom Park
  • a 3-night stay at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel
  • up to four 5-Day Magic Your Way Tickets with Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun & More Options
  • a $500 Disney Gift Card
  • a personalized “Disney Side” welcome basket
  • a Glass Slipper gift inspired by the new live-action film “Cinderella,” in theaters March 13
  • Round-trip coach airfare (If the winner resides more than 250 miles from the Walt Disney World Resort)
The contest runs through January 31, 2015. Visit the contest's official website DisneyFlipSide.com to enter for a chance to win and for the contest's full list of rules and regulations.

Views around the World

Holidays around the World

MousePlanet welcomes photographer Alan Dalinka, who had the opportunity to visit the theme parks around the holidays to give us the chance to experience the magic.

Magic Kingdom

Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie join other holiday characters in a show in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Mickey and Minnie appear in Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade at the Magic Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Goofy rides high in front of his candy factory float in Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade at the Magic Kingdom on. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Liberty Belle paddlewheel makes a rare nighttime cruise on the Rivers of America at the Magic Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Holiday Wishes fill the sky above Main Street Station when viewed from outside the turnstiles at the Magic Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Many guests gather on the bridge to the island between the UK and France pavilions at Epcot an hour before the early showing of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Temporary locations sell drinks in festive glasses on New Year's Eve at Epcot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Backstage walkways are clearly marked to ease congestion around the World Showcase Lagoon on New Year's Eve at Epcot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Four-hour wait times greet guests without Fastpass+ reservations on New Year's Eve at Epcot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

New lasers create clearer (and easier to photograph) images on Spaceship Earth counting down to the New Year at Epcot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

New lasers shine across the World Showcase Lagoon from the American Adventure displaying a countdown clock on Spaceship Earth at Epcot. Meanwhile, the globe usually used in Illuminations also displays countdown clocks. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The final Illuminations: Reflections of Earth showing for 2014 lights the sky above World Showcase Lagoon minutes before midnight. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Mickey Mouse-shaped ornaments adorn shop windows at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A festive star frames one of Disney's Hollywood Studios' star attractions: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The location of the former American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios served as the temporary home for the seasonal Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Coming Attractions from Around the World

The Walt Disney World resort brings in the new year the same way it wrapped up 2014: continuing changes. This week's photos show progress in a number of projects at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs and Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Inside the Great Movie Ride, new costumes and props are on display, such as this soldier's uniform from "The Wizard of Oz." The attraction will soon be sponsored by TCM. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

New rock work and pathways are being created at the center intersection of Discovery Island at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

New rock work apparently will include sculptures of animals. A deer, seal, and an elephant head can be seen in this photo. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Here we see a low-lying gator sculpted at the far left. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Joffrey's coffee shop has opened next to Flame Tree Barbecue. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

Work continues on the new African marketplace at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Here we see an old wall under construction, and a roof top well on the top. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Here we see the back side of the current gift shop, with fortress like walls in the background. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

On the left one can see that extensive foliage once found on the path to the Safari Theater has been removed. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney Springs

This and That

...Walt Disney World became the center of the social media universe in 2014 as the most geo-tagged location on both Facebook. Meanwhile, across the country, Disneyland earned top honors on Instagram.

..."I'm going to Disney World!" is an iconic TV commercial that usually follows the winners of a big sporting event who excitedly exclaim their plans to celebrate in Walt Disney World. This year, Disney decided to have a little fun with the NCAA's 2015 Inaugural College Football National Playoff Championship Game and created a TV spot including the mascots from the University of Oregon and Ohio State University as they await the outcome of the game. 

...A Magic Kingdom guest recently challenged Gaston to a push-up contest to show who was stronger. Take a look at this YouTube video to see what happened.

...A Disney source reported additions and changes to the lifeguarding staff of Disney Cruise Lines. Recently, the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream cruise ships hired additional lifeguards to staff the Mickey pools. The Disney Magic's Aqua Lab now also has more lifeguards on board. Another soon-to-be addition is a lifeguard at the Mickey pool on the Disney Wonder. All of these new positions are additions to currently staffed lifeguards at all family pools across the cruise line.

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Seeking Shutterbugs

Are you a frequent visitor to the WDW theme parks? Do you love taking and sharing photos of the lastest happenings around the World?

Would you like to be paid for your work?

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


"Do more. Wait less."

2015 starts off with some mid-level crowds at Walt Disney World.

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, January 6, 2015 4 / 10
Wednesday, January 7, 2015 4 / 10
Thursday, January 8, 2015 5 / 10
Friday, January 9, 2015 4 / 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.

Join Our Networks


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



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.



  • 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


  • Polynesian – refurbishment of the lobby ongoing.

Water Parks

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


  • 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

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

15 percent off select guided tours

Disney Visa cardholders receive 15 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 and Villas:

  • Boma
  • Jiko (see restrictions)
  • Sanaa
Disney's BoardWalk Inn and Villas:
  • ESPN Sports Club
  • Flying Fish Cafe (see restrictions)
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort:
  • Shutters at Old Port Royale
Disney's Contemporary Resort:
  • The Wave...of American Flavors
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground:
  • Trail's End Restaurant
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa:
  • Citricos (see restrictions)
  • Grand Floridian Cafe
Disney's Old Key West Resort:
  • Olivia's Cafe
Disney's Port Orleans Resort:
  • Boatwright's Dining Hall
Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa:
  • The Turf Club Bar and Grill
Disney's Wilderness Lodge:
  • Artist Point (see restrictions)
  • Whispering Canyon Cafe
Disney's Yacht Club Resort:
  • Captain's Grille
Disney's Hollywood Studios:
  • The Hollywood Brown Derby (see restrictions)
  • Hollywood & Vine (see restrictions)
  • Biergarten Restaurant (see restrictions)

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.

15 percent off all Disney spa and salon services

Disney Visa cardholders receive 15 percent off the non-discounted price of any salon treatment valued at $45 or greater or any 50-minute or longer spa service at the spas and salons at Walt Disney World Resort listed below: 

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

  • Senses—A Disney Spa
  • Ivy Trellis Salon
Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Senses—A Disney Spa
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas
  • Zahanati Massage & Fitness Center
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Olympiad Fitness Center
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
  • La Vida Health Club
  • Casa de Belleza Salon
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
  • Sturdy Branches Health Club
Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
  • Ship Shape Massage Salon Fitness 

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.




  1. By danyoung

    Thanks as always for the update. A small correction - your contest link has one too many 's' in it. It currently says DisneyFlipsSide.com, and it should be DisneyFlipSide.com. Thanks.

  2. By DisneyGator

    Bummed. My Hat is coming down. Yeah, you heard right. The Hat. It's mine. My favorite photo spot, my favorite Icon. Now it's gone.

  3. By danyoung

    You can have it. I'm very happy that it's going away!

  4. By DisneyGator

    Quote Originally Posted by danyoung View Post
    You can have it. I'm very happy that it's going away!

    That would be the only way I'd be happy. If I could have it. Just put it in my back yard so I can remember the first time I saw it, the first time I hit MGM, the first time we launched from RnRC, the first time I dropped from ToT, and the first time I saw Fantasmic! That Hat holds a lot of memories for me.

    As for the Mann theater, I'd say you can have it, but the real one is drowning in bums passed out right in front of it. Seeing the Mann at WDW just reminds of the real, ugly, smelly Holly-weird.

  5. Discuss this article on MousePad.