Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer

Update for January 13 – 19, 2015

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

News and Views

Polynesian Villas and Bungalows sale begins January 12 | Nearly 20,000 runners complete Walt Disney World Marathon | Tomorrowland Arcade to permanently close | Sorcerer's Hat deconstruction project underway | Exclusive Cinderella preview coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios | Views around the World | This and That | Crowd update

Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows sale begins January 12

Starting this week, members of the Disney Vacation Club can purchase an ownership interest in the new Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. If you do not yet own any points in DVC (Disney's version of a timeshare program), the first date you can purchase points for this new development is Monday, February 9. The first phase of the project is scheduled to open by April 1, 2015.

The new project offers two types of accommodations: Deluxe Studio Villas and Bora Bora Bungalows.

The Deluxe Studio Villas are said to be the largest at the Walt Disney World Resort, and designed to sleep up to five people. DVC rooms that sleep five people usually have one queen-size bed, one queen-size sleeper sofa, and one pull-down bunk size bed. It is possible that these rooms will have two queen-size beds in addition to the pull-down bed. These rooms will have one full and one half bathroom, a new feature for DVC studios, but will not have a washer and dryer.

There will be a kitchenette and "enhanced storage space for convenience and comfort," which probably means an extra closet or built-in unit. The lack of the washer and dryer is likely to be a turn-off, especially as DVC is marketed on the "home-like" experience.

The new DVC Bungalows being built in the Seven Seas Lagoon behind Disney's Polynesian Village Resort will have views of The Magic Kingdom's fireworks. January 10, 2015. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Bora Bora Bungalows are only two-bedroom units, not three-bedroom Grand Villas as had many hoped. They have a capacity of 8, so we'd expect a king-size bed in one room, two queen-size beds in the second bedroom, and a queen-size sleeper sofa in the living room. The over-water bungalows have a full kitchen, two full bathrooms, dining room, living room, and come equipped with a washer and dryer.

For many, the missing bedroom is more than made up for in the other amenities offered in the bungalows, including the plunge "pool" on the private deck. Despite the lower sleeping capacity of these bungalows, there will only be 20 of these. We expect them to be so popular that only those DVC members who purchase points for the Polynesian will be able to use their Poly "home resort" points to take advantage of their 11-month advanced-booking window. It is doubtful that there will be much availability at the seven-month window when all other DVC owners can make reservations.

Disney released the points/pricing chart for the new DVC rooms with the purchase price listed as $160 per point. Point values range greatly depending on room type and for what season the points are purchased. For a deluxe studio (sleeps up to 5), point values start at 16 per night up to 227 per week, while a two-bedroom bungalow (sleeps up to 8) range from 115 points per night up to 1,439 per week. For a full listing of point values and purchase prices, visit the MousePlanet discussion forum.

Nearly 20,000 runners complete Walt Disney World Marathon 

In the early hours this past Sunday, nearly 20,000 people took off from the starting line of the Walt Disney World Marathon, the anchor event in a weekend full of events for runners of all ages.

MousePlanet writer Kevin Krock shows his medals from Saturday's half-marathon, Sunday's marathon, and the Goofy Challenge. Photo by Adrienne Krock.

The annual event offers a slew of activities, including a 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) family fun run/walk, 10K (6.2 miles), half-marathon (13.1 miles), marathon (26.2 miles), two challenges that combine the weekend's races—the Goofy Challenge, which requires both the half-marathon and marathon, and the Dopey Challenge, which requires the 5K, 10K, half, and full marathons—kids races, and various pre-and post-event parties.

Brazil dominated the list of top marathon finishers, with the top three men's finishers representing the country. Fredison Costa (37) from Piedade, Brazil came in first with a time of 2:18:06. Second place was Trindade Mateus (30) from Curitiba, Brazil, with a time of 2:22:39. Third place with a time of 2:23:10 was Joao Fonseca (35) from Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

The top female finisher was also from Brazil (Sao Paolo). Giovanna Martins (32) finished with a time of 2:50:20. In second place was Heather Hunt (40) of Sumter, South Carolina, with time of 2:54:19, and third place went to Heather Schulze (40) of Orlando, Florida, with a time of 2:54:41.

The Walt Disney World Marathon offers runners a chance to stop along the way for some fun photo opportunities. Photo by Adrienne Krock.

A quick look at some numbers:

  • Marathon finishers: 19,970 (9685 men, 10,285 women)
  • Half-marathon finishers: 22,081 (9702 men, 12,379 women)
  • 10K finishers: 10949 (4640 men, 6309 women)
  • Goofy Challengers: 4706
  • Dopey Challengers: 6400

Complete results for every division and race can be found on Trackshack.com.

[Editor's note: Contributing writer Lorree "RunningFool" Tachell, who covers runDisney races for us and who just completed her first Goofy Challenge, kept her ears to the ground throughout the weekend. Although Lorree heard several rumors of differing veracity, one item in particular was repeated by several cast members: There is some speculation that 2016 might be the last year that runDisney offers the Dopey Challenge, due primarily to the astronomical logistical and operational challenges it poses. Should that rumor bear out, the Dopey will turn out to be a short experiment (although not as short as the only-offered-once Chip 'n Dale-themed Marathon Relay from a few years ago). If you were thinking of trying your hand at runDisney's penultimate challenge, keep that in mind.]

Spectators at the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon play an important role during the race as they support and encourage the runners. Photo by Adrienne Krock.

Tomorrowland Arcade to permanently close

Walt Disney World is in the process of removing all video game and arcade claw games that issue prize redemption tickets in response to a 2013 state law declaring the games a form of gambling.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland Arcade in Space Mountain is closing on February 8 to replace the game with classic arcade games. Numerous Disney hotel have already made the switch, including Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's All Star Sports, Disney's All Star Movies, Disney's Pop Century, and Disney's Art of Animation Resort. While none of Disney's resorts were cited under the legislation, the company decided to show "an abundance of caution" when a citizen made a complaint to the Orange County Sheriff's Office about the games. 

Meanwhile, State Sen. Kelli Stargel filed legislation last week in an effort to loosen restrictions passed on family entertainment centers. Stargel attempted to have similar legislation passed last year, but it did not pass.

Sorcerer's Hat deconstruction project underway

Deconstruction work at Disney's Hollywood Studios' Sorcerer's Hat began last week, as we reported in previous update.

Crews erected walls around the hat as they began the project, and our photographers visited the park to get the latest photos.

A large fence covers the Sorcerer's hat at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Very little has yet to be removed, as it will take several days/weeks to remove the entire hat. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Exclusive Cinderella preview coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios

Starting January 17, 2015, Disney's Hollywood Studios presents a limited-time, exclusive preview of the upcoming Walt Disney Studios film Cinderella. Park visitors can catch the movie preview at the ABC Sound Studio.

In addition to the movie premiere Disney Hollywood Studios guests can see the original golden coach from the movie outside the movie theater facade on the Streets of America.

Photo by Disney.

Views around the World

Our photographers spent the week bouncing around the Walt Disney World resort to give readers looks at the latest changes in the hotels and theme parks.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

While some thematic details are still expected, evidence of more construction to come are completely absent in the new lobby at Disney's Polynesian Resort. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The biggest thematic detail is this small volcanic out cropping. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Magic Kingdom

Details of the new bridges at the Magic Kingdom appear. Plenty of lighting and sound fixtures as well are dotting the new landscape. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Long standby wait times are common at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at The Magic Kingdom, especially during the busy Marathon Weekend. January 10, 2015. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Sonny Eclipse is behind a tarp at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland at The Magic Kingdom. January 10, 2015. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This and That

...Have you put in your daily entry for the Disney "Flip" Side sweepstakes? The contest will award 31 winners in January a 5-day/4-night vacation at Walt Disney World for four that includes: 

  • One-night stay at the Cinderella Castle Suite in the Magic Kingdom Park
  • Three-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
  • $500 Disney Gift Card
  • Personalized “Disney Side” welcome basket
  • 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. Visit the contest's official website DisneyFlipsSide.com to enter for a chance to win and for the contest's full list of rules and regulations.

...Disney launched a new line of retail MagicBands and accessories at the parks this month featuring Ariel, Cinderella Castle, Belle, Tinkerbell, and Buzz and Woody and a limited edition 2015 Sorcerer Mickey Mouse MagicBand. Each of these will be available at the parks by the end of January. 

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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?

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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


"Do more. Wait less."

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 13, 2015 3 / 10
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 3 / 10
Thursday, January 15, 2015 4 / 10
Friday, January 16, 2015 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.

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.

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 all the hard work. But you still have the sweepstakes link listed incorrectly. You have DisneyFlipsSide.com, but that's one too many s. It should be DisneyFlipSide.com. Thanks.

  2. By LtPowers

    The headline says "Tomorrowland Arcade to permanently close" but the text says that the now-banned games will be replaced with classic arcade games, which wouldn't make sense if the closure was permanent. Which is correct?

    Powers &8^]

  3. By Dave1313

    Thanks for the report!

    Is clarification possible on if the Cinderella coach display starts with the movie preview date of 1/17?

    The Orlando Sentinel article posted a few days back states 2/1 through 4/11 for the coach to be on display.


  4. By asdhollywood

    The Cinderella coach from the live action movie isn't due to be put on public display at Disney's Hollywood Studios until 2/1. Reports are that it will be located on the Streets of America by the theater facade rather than near the ABC Sound Studio on Echo Lake where the movie previews are being shown. I wouldn't be surprised if there is an AP or DVC preview of the coach before 2/1. In any event, I'll get over there and get some photos as soon as I can. Regards, Alan S. Dalinka.

  5. Discuss this article on MousePad.