Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
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Update for February 10 – 16, 2015

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

News and Views

Be Our Guest to begin accepting lunch reservations | New resort check-in process rolls out February 10 | Trolley Car Cafe opens at Disney's Hollywood Studios | Downtown Disney road construction delayed | Disney's Animal Kingdom to host "Spring Forward" event |Views around the WorldThis and That | Crowd update

Be Our Guest to begin accepting lunch reservations

The Magic Kingdom's Be Our Guest restaurant, which opened in December 2012 as part of the New Fantasyland project, is transitioning its lunch hours from quick service to a reservation-based system starting on February 25.

In addition to being able to make reservations 180 days out for a Be Our Guest lunch, visitors can also pre-order their meal beginning 30 days prior all the way up to 5 minutes before their reservation to make the process even smoother. Officials say visitors can still choose their own seating during the lunch seating.

After a lengthy test period at the restaurant with Fastpass+ over recent month, Disney decided to transition the quick service meal time to a reservation-based system for everyone, according to Disney Parks Blog

The Be Our Guest lunch, served daily from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., will remain a quick service option for the Disney Dining Plan and the menu will differ from the later dinner seating. Reservations open at 6 a.m. on February 25 and visitors can either call (407) WDW-DINE (407-939-3463), visit the My Disney Experience site, or go to the Walt Disney World's dining page to schedule their date and time. 

New resort check-in process rolls out February 10

Last week, Disney sent a memo to travel agents announcing a new resort policy scheduled to begin on February 10 that allows qualified visitors to bypass the front desk check-in process. Guests must:

  • Have Magic Bands mailed to their home.
  • Complete the full check-in process in advance, including paying in full for their reservation or setting up a credit card and PIN.
  • Provide a method of communication (an email address or phone number where the can reached via text).

Those who meets these requirements receive an email before their arrival with their room number and the ability to go directly to their room. 

A hotel curbside cast member will meet the reservation party at the door and offer the option for a traditional check in at the desk or will show them the way to their room. The booking visitors will need to make sure to have a valid form of identification to the cast member.

The new check in process rolls out on the following date:

  • February 10 – Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Art of Animation Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, Disney's Pop Century Resort, and Disney's Port Orleans Resort
  • February 25 – Disney's Boardwalk Inn, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Wilderness Lodge, and Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts
  • March 10 – Disney's All Star Resort, Disney's Caribbean Resort, Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Old Key West Resort, and Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

No date has been announced for this new process at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.

Trolley Car Cafe opens in Disney's Hollywood Studios


The Trolley Car Cafe Starbucks location opened in Disney's Hollywood Studios last week at the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Sunset Blvd. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The latest Starbucks location opened last week in Disney's Hollywood Studio's in the new Trolly Car Cafe.

Located on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard, the Trolley Car Cafe not only serves Starbucks drinks, but also Disney baked items and Starbucks' La Boulange pastries. 


The interior of the newly opened Trolley Car Cafe Starbucks inside Disney's Hollywood Studios is decorated to appear as a period-appropriate service building for the Red Car Trolley line from Hollywood's past. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Trolley Car Cafe Starbucks location opened in Disney's Hollywood Studios last week at the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Sunset Blvd. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Trolley Car Cafe is the third Starbucks location in Walt Disney World. The Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Downtown Disney all have locations serving visitors. Another location is under construction over at Disney's Animal Kingdom. No official opening day has been released at this time.

Downtown Disney road construction delayed

Disney confirmed last week that roadwork involved with the Downtown Disney/Disney Springs project may likely take an extra year to complete. 

The road construction project, which includes additional ramps onto Epcot Center Drive from Buena Vista Drive and two parking garages, is now scheduled for completion in mid-2017 compared to the original estimate of late 2016.

Bruce Jones, Reedy Creek Improvement District's contract and risk manager told the told the Orlando Sentinel that "unanticipated delays in getting the conceptual designs hammered out" for Epcot Center Drive improvements has been a stumbling block. Jones cited difficulties with building demolition on the site of a second parking garage as a primary cause for the delay.

Disney's Animal Kingdom to host "Spring Forward" event

On March 5, Disney's Animal Kingdom plans to celebrate the change of season and wildlife at its "Spring Forward" event.

Anyone visiting Rafiki’s Planet Watch on March 5 can learn about various amphibians and participate in fun, amphibian related activities to learn about amphibian adaptation such as trying to leap like a frog, listening to and identifying frog calls, and making toad homes for their backyards.

This event is included with regular park admission and no reservations are required.

Views around the World

Our photographers snapped some fantastic photos of lots of activity around Walt Disney World: from major progress in the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Polynesian Village Resort to a magical addition over at Disney's Hollywood Studios and even some natural beauty around the parks.

Magic Kingdom


With the Crystal Palace from behind, one can see landscaping being added to the plaza area. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Large, new fountains have been installed in the hub area. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Various topiary have been prepped and readied for the new plaza. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Construction on the west side of The Magic Kingdom's hub (closest to Adventureland) has progressed to where new flowers and landscaping elements have been planted. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The moat near Tomorrowland has been refilled. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Hollywood Studios


The golden carriage built for filming Disney's upcoming new live-action "Cinderella" movie is on display in front of the theater facade on the Streets of America at Disney's Hollywood Studios (scheduled through April 11, 2015). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Epcot


A rainbow appears to rise from the Fountain of Nations in Future World at Epcot thanks to just the right amount of wind and sunshine. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort


Construction workers continue to finalize the new DVC bungalows in the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney's Polynesian Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Construction workers continue to finalize the new DVC units at Disney's Polynesian Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney Springs


The exterior of the Boathouse adds dimension and color to the skyline of the future Disney Springs, scheduled for completion in Spring 2016. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This and That

...Construction walls came down around the Disney's Animal Kingdom Tree of Life last week to reveal a number of new animals carved into the icon's roots and a widened walkway to Discovery Island. 

...Disney gave fans a preview of the design for the newest Walt Disney World Starbucks location at Disney's Animal Kingdom, which will take the place of Creature Comforts.

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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

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"Do more. Wait less."


Crowds in Walt Disney World will be low to mid-level this week. 

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, February 10, 2015 3 / 10
Wednesday, February 11, 2015 4 / 10
Thursday, February 12, 2015 4 / 10
Friday, February 13, 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 9 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

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

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Resorts

  • Polynesian – refurbishment of the lobby and pool area ongoing.

Water Parks

  • Blizzard Beach – the the entire park closed 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

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)
Epcot:
  • 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.

 

 

Comments

  1. By yedliw

    ...is transitioning its lunch hours from quick service to a reservation-based system starting on February 25.

    Does this mean it is no longer going to be a QS for lunch? Is it becoming a TS for lunch as well as dinner?

  2. By stan4d_steph

    Quote Originally Posted by yedliw View Post
    Does this mean it is no longer going to be a QS for lunch? Is it becoming a TS for lunch as well as dinner?

    It's always been a hybrid of quick service and table service. You order at a kiosk, then the food is brought to a table you select. It's like Panera. Lunch meals still count as quick service under the Disney Dining Plan.

    This change just allows people to reserve a table and even order food ahead instead of having to wait. There will still be walk up tables available, but you will have to wait based on availability around those with reservations.

  3. By yedliw

    Quote Originally Posted by stan4d_steph View Post
    It's always been a hybrid of quick service and table service. You order at a kiosk, then the food is brought to a table you select. It's like Panera. Lunch meals still count as quick service under the Disney Dining Plan.

    This change just allows people to reserve a table and even order food ahead instead of having to wait. There will still be walk up tables available, but you will have to wait based on availability around those with reservations.

    Sorry.. that's not what I meant.. From a dining plan perspective, will it be a CS credit, or a TS credit?

  4. By KJSJpipe

    QS is for snack places, CS is Counter service with actual food.
    Ie. Casey's in MK is a CS, Auntie Gravity's Galatic Goodies is a QS.

  5. By stan4d_steph

    Quote Originally Posted by yedliw View Post
    Sorry.. that's not what I meant.. From a dining plan perspective, will it be a CS credit, or a TS credit?

    I answered that question in my post. It counts as a CS credit.

  6. By yedliw

    I read right past that.. sorry, and Thanx!

  7. By jcruise86

    Good update, Mouseplanet! THANK YOU!

  8. Discuss this article on MousePad.