Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer

Update for January 20 – 26, 2015

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

News and Views

New concert series for 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Show | Disney files paperwork for Norway pavilion expansion | 2015 Epcot Food & Wine Festival dates announced | Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin announces sixth annual Food & Wine Classic | Flame Tree Barbecue alternatives provided at Disney's Animal Kingdom | Views around the World | This and That | Crowd update

New concert series for 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Show

The 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival debuts new, live entertainment at the American Gardens Theater: the Garden Rocks Concert Series.

The live performances run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Epcot visitors can see these shows for free since they are included in regular park admission.

Disney Parks Blog announced the following lineup for the 2015 Garden Rocks Concert Series (subject to change without notice):

  • March 68: Gin Blossoms “Hey Jealousy”
  • March 1315: Pablo Cruise “Love Will Find a Way”
  • March 2022: En Vogue “Free Your Mind”
  • March 2729: Starship “We Built This City”
  • April 35: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO “Evil Woman”
  • April 1012: Village People “Y.M.C.A.”
  • April 1719: Jon Secada “Just Another Day”
  • April 2426: The Guess Who “These Eyes”
  • May 13: Taylor Dayne “Tell It to My Heart”
  • May 810: Little River Band “Lady”
  • May 1517: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone “I’m Henry the VIII, I Am”

This new concert series takes the place of the Flower Power Concert Series from previous years which primarily featured acts from the 1960s and 19070s and opens up the musical acts to more diverse artists from across a wider time period.

The 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival runs from March 4 through May 17.

Disney files paperwork for Norway pavilion expansion

Disney filed paperwork last week with the South Florida Water Management System with plans to add on the current Norway pavilion in Epcot.

The documents indicate that the new construction includes a 13,000 sq. ft building that includes a Frozen meet and greet area as well as upgrades to the current restroom in the Norway pavilion.

The documents also include a further breakdown of the work to come on the 1.08-acre site including:

  • A 2,000 sq. ft. building
  • wo parking lots made up of 18 parking spaces and
  • Planters and sidewalk modifications

Disney closed Norway's Malestrom attraction in October 2014 and announced that a new Frozen experience would take its place sometime in 2016.

2015 Food & Wine Festival dates announced

Fans of Disney and food celebrated last week as Disney announced the dates of the 2015 Epcot Food & Wine Festival. Running from September 25 to November 16, this means Food & Wine Festival fans have 53 days to enjoy all of the international cuisine, wine tastings, live entertainment, and special events that accompany the annual festival.

Each year, Epcot hosts the International Marketplace featuring almost 30 booths with a variety of food and drinks from all over the world. Over at Future World, signature dining experiences with famous chefs offer exclusive menus, seminars and tastings. 

In the evenings, the American Garden Theater hosts the annual Eat to the Beat Concert Series, which brings together the some of the best live musical acts from the 70s through today.

Disney Parks Blog plans to release more information about the festival as Disney releases it. Anyone interested in more information can also visit the festival's official webpage.

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin announce sixth annual Food & Wine Classic

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort announced the dates for its sixth annual Food & Wine Classic as October 30 and 31.

The two-night, outdoor festival features more than 40 locations offering food from the hotel's award-winning restaurants as well as wine from more than 30 wineries. The event also features live music, a beer garden with local and seasonal brews from around the world and seminars with hotel chefs and beverage experts. 

Anyone interested in keeping up with future event announcements, including ticket packages can visit the event's official webpage

Flame Tree Barbecue alternatives provided at Disney's Animal Kingdom

The Flame Tree Barbecue is closed (and its popular food items sold elsewhere) during construction of the future nighttime fountain and lights spectacular at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka

With Disney's Animal Kingdom's Flame Tree Barbecue closed for an extended period of time for refurbishment, Disney decided to provide alternatives for the restaurant's fans:

  • The Beastly Kiosk and Gardens Kiosk features the 1/2 barbecue chicken, 1/2 slab of St. Louis Ribs, and the rib and chicken combo plate.i
  • Trilo-Bites features the jumbo turkey leg and the pork sandwich

As these locations serve Flame Tree Barbecue selections, the popular Mickey-shaped pretzels and jalepeno pretzels can be found at the Isle of Java in Discovery Island and hand-scooped ice cream and sundaes are at Dino-Bites Snacks in Dinoland, U.S.A.

Flame Tree Barbecue's refurbishment is scheduled for completion on March 31. 

Views around the World

Walt Disney World visitors arriving for Martin Luther King, Jr. week found crowds and construction waiting for them. However, they also likely noticed that a lot of progress has been made around the resort.

Magic Kingdom

The center of the Central Plaze is under construction. During that time, the Partner's Statue is boxed up. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Construction continues on the larger hub area. The rounded areas are believed to be fountains going into the hub. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

The top of the Sorcerer's Hat has been removed at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The top of the Sorcerer's Hat sits on the ground as deconstruction of the hat has begun at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Passholder previews began this week at the ABC Sound Studio at Disney's Hollywood Studios for the new live action movie "Cinderella" opening on March 13Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney Springs

The Boathouse begins to take on the coloring shown in the artist's rendition as the Disney Springs transformation continues. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Construction appears to be nearing completion on the bridge across the lake area of Downtown Disney. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

The greater pool structure continues to be reconstructed. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

A closer look at the volcano suggests that the texture will be a lava rock style structure. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

A new playground structure--probably a water feature--is being added. The bars have a bamboo look to them. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This and That

...Have you put in your daily entry for the Disney "Flip" Side sweepstakes? The contest is awarding 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 DisneyFlipSide.com to enter for a chance to win and for the contest's full list of rules and regulations.

...Happy 40th anniversary to the Magic Kingdom's Carousel of Progress and Space Mountain! Both attractions celebrated this milestone last week. 

The MousePlanet Newsletter is here!

The newsletter contains a recap of the week's articles (in case you miss a day), news that may have developed since the weekly Updates were published, and tips about what's happening at the Disney theme parks for the coming weekend. We'll also include a fun MouseAdventure bonus, such as an Eye Spy or a trivia question. To subscribe to our free newsletter, just enter your e-mail in the box below.

Join the MousePlanet Newsletter


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."

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 20, 2015 5 / 10
Wednesday, January 21, 2015 2 / 10
Thursday, January 22, 2015 3 / 10
Friday, January 23, 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!

  • Wednesday is the best day to visit the Magic Kingdom.
  • The resort crowd level on Saturday 4 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 and pool area 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 Drince88

    I'm glad they extended the F&W fest through the weekend AFTER the W&D half: that means I can have week days at the fest after the race! (Pending MA announcements that could change things).

  2. By danyoung

    I'll post this one more time and then I won't bother you any more. The link that you have for the sweepstakes doesn't work. It should be www.disneyflipside.com. Thanks.

  3. By stan4d_steph

    Quote Originally Posted by danyoung View Post
    I'll post this one more time and then I won't bother you any more. The link that you have for the sweepstakes doesn't work. It should be www.disneyflipside.com. Thanks.

    It was corrected last week after your comment. Thank you again.

  4. By danyoung

    I just ran into it again in this week's update, so I thought I'd better let you know.

    Edited to add - I just tried it again, and it appears to be corrected. Thanks much!

  5. By jmb910

    Just a heads up the dates for the closure of Harmony Barber Shop now have this listed on the Disney website:

    Please Pardon Our Dust
    The Harmony Barber shop will be closed for refurbishments starting February 16, 2015—but fear not! The harmonies, haircuts and happiness will all return on March 31, 2015.

  6. Discuss this article on MousePad.