Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
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Update for February 17 – 23, 2015

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

News and Views

One day Magic Kingdom ticket price could soon pass $100 | Richard Petty Driving Experience to close | Disney Cruise Line introduces Star Wars Day at sea on select sailings | Texas family walking from Disneyland to Walt Disney World | Cinderella's Perfect Fit Sweepstakes offers stay in Castle SuiteWalt Disney World Resorts offer new celebration packages | Views around the World | This and That | Crowd update

One day Magic Kingdom ticket price could soon pass $100

Magic Kingdom one-day ticket prices could soon pass the $100 threshold, according to multiple online news and unofficial Walt Disney World sources.

If historical price increases timelines remain constant, the price increase could happen has soon as the end of this month based on reports from a report from the Tampa Bay Times and other Internet sources. The new reported price for a single-day ticket for Magic Kingdom will likely be $105, which is $6 more than the current price of $99 and which brings the entry price above the $100 mark for the first time in history. Walt Disney World would likely set the admission price of its other three theme parks to $99 for a single-day ticket, a $4 increase from 2014.

It is unclear how or whether crossing the $100 level would impact park attendance. Even at $99 last year, Walt Disney World saw crowd levels continue to rise. If the reports are accurate, the new $105 single-day ticket price means admission to the Magic Kingdom has doubled since 2003.

Richard Petty Driving Experience to close

Disney announced the upcoming closure of the Richard Petty Driving Experience in the Magic Kingdom parking lot in June. 


More Magic Kingdom parking spaces may be on the way after the Walt Disney World Speedway that borders the Magic Kingdom parking lot closes in late June to make way for "transportation improvements." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Also known as the Walt Disney World Speedway, the racing track hosted visitors looking to live their speed-demon dreams as they either experienced a ride-along in a NASCAR or exotic car (such as Lamborghinis and Ferraris) or the chance to get behind the driver's wheel. 

According Rikki Niblett of our sponsor TouringPlans.com, the closure comes as a result of upcoming transportation improvements in the area. Disney, however, has not confirmed the specifics of the project. 

"Any reserved guests prior to July 1 will have the same fantastic experience that we have delivered since 1997 at Walt Disney World Speedway," said Bill Scott, Vice President of Petty Holdings.

Scott added that anyone with reservations beyond June 30 for either the Richard Petty Driving Experience or Exotic Driving Experience can call (800) 237-3889 to reschedule the session at any of the other 14 Petty locations around the county, including the Daytona International Speedway. A new Orlando location is in the planning stages and will feature exotic and stock car programs.

Disney Cruise Line introduces Star Wars Day at sea on select sailings

Disney Cruise Lines announced the introduction of Star Wars Day at Sea for select dates in early 2016 on board the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.

The special, themed cruises are announced for sailings that depart January 9 and 23, February 6 and 20, March 5 and 19 and April 2 and 16, 2016. Each of these sailings leave from Port Canaveral, Florida and have a seven-night itinerary to the Western Caribbean and includes a stop at Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas.

The day-long, at-sea celebration happens once during each of the eight special sailings on board the Disney Fantasy and provides passengers a chance to meet and greet favorite Star Wars characters, and enjoy a deck party, themed youth activities, food and drink, and exclusive merchandise. The Disney Fantasy is also featuring screenings of the Star Wars films and the new Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels.

Texas family walking from Disneyland to Walt Disney World

A Houston, Texas family including a mother, father and three young children continue a walk they started last August from Disneyland to Walt Disney World to honor a young family member who lost a battle with cancer.

Last year, 8-year-old Julia Cobb passed away from Ewing's Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Not long before Julia passed away, the entire Cobb family, including dad Jonathan Cobb, his wife Jennifer and their kids, Julia, Jonathan, Jenna and Jaxie took a trip to Walt Disney World courtesy of the Make a Wish Foundation, according to MyFoxOrlando.com. The family had the "best week of our lives" mom Jennifer said.

Sadly, before the family could even get back to the airport to return home from the trip, Julia became critically ill and went to the hospital. Within 24 hours, she passed away.

To help cope with their loss and as a way to raise awareness of the disease, the grief stricken Cobbs decided to walk from the California theme park to the Florida theme park. They have a chase vehicle where one parent will drive and carry the kids who are tired, while the other parent continues to walk with the others. The family averages about 25 miles a day and stay in donated hotel rooms.

The Cobbs have created a foundation named for their daughter. The Jucan Foundation provides details about their Walk Across America campaign. In addition to offering support in spirit by using their #teamjucan hash tag in social media, their website also details ways in which people can help.

The Cobb family hopes to reach Walt Disney World by late May or early June. 

Cinderella's Perfect Fit Sweepstakes offers stay in Castle Suite

In honor of the upcoming release of the live-action Cinderella movie on March 13, Disney is offering a special sweepstakes with a grand prize that gives one lucky family a taste of what "happily ever after" is about.

Cinderella's Perfect Fit sweepstakes awards one grand prize, consisting of:

  • A one-night stay inside the Cinderella Castle suite
  • Three nights at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel
  • Four 5-day Magic Your Way tickets with Park Hopper and Water Parks and More options
  • A Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique makeover for one child ages 3-12.
  • A $500 gift card

Entries can be submitted online through the sweepstakes' official webpage until March 29, 2015. 

Walt Disney World Resorts offer new celebration packages

Walt Disney World Resort Hotels recently added a new feature to their celebration packages for guests looking to add a boost for a special occasion: cake! Previously, only candy cakes could be delivered to resort rooms, but now anyone staying on property can enjoy a vanilla or chocolate cake with a special occasion package.

From traditional cakes to large gift packages, Disney's Floral and Gifts now can deliver the party right to your on-site resort room. Among the newest celebration package additions are:

  • Mickey's Celebration Cake ($55.95 plus tax) – choose from a chocolate or vanilla cake with two pairs of chocolate Mickey ears on top for any occasion. Forks, plates, napkins, and a cake server are included.
  • Mickey's Magical Celebration package ($82.95 plus tax) – a cake, balloons, and a happy birthday tray are included.
  • Mickey's Grand Birthday Party package ($121.95 plus tax) – Walt Disney World popcorn tin, a pair of Mickey birthday ears, Mickey Mouse crispy rice treats, five helium balloons, and a cake.

To place an order, visit the Disney Floral and Gifts website.

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


Renovation to the front of the Adventureland Veranda is in play as permits have been extended to remodel the food and beverage facilities, believed to be themed to former Jungle Cruise skippers starting their own restaurant business. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Crowds like this lining up for tickets are not uncommon on mornings at the Transportation and Ticket Center. But on President's Day weekend, this is how far the crowds extended well into the afternoon. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney's Animal Kingdom


The future "Rivers of Light" nighttime spectacular construction continues on Discovery River, between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Although the FlameTree BBQ counter service restaurant has temporarily closed during construction of the "Rivers of Light" nighttime spectacular at Disney's Animal Kingdom, much of its seating area was still open this past week. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


There are no exterior signs of construction going on within the presumed future location of Starbucks inside Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Hollywood Studios


While the tip of the hat came down quickly, the base structure of the sorcerer's hat requires more effort to remove. What is clear is that the Chinese Theater is again becoming more visible. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Epcot


Newly planted flowers are starting to grow in Future World in advance of the upcoming 22nd Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Crews have started planting flowers in Future World in advance of the upcoming 22nd Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Construction walls now surround portions of the Fountain of Nations at Epcot's Future World. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Epcot's parking lot provides a spectacular view of Spaceship Earth and the finale of the nighttime Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort


A new water feature is being added to the entrance to the Great Ceremonial House. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


It is still difficult to determine whether this playground structure will be wet or dry. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


A different view of the volcano reconstruction being done to the pool area at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney Springs


The causeway has finally opened at Disney Springs, in time for President's Day weekend. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


This logo has appeared in poster form around the construction area, but now it appears as a medallion here on the causeway. It also now includes a tag line, "The Source of Inspiration." Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


This is not necessarily "the source of inspiration" but it is the source of what will be the springs for Disney Springs, still well under construction. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This and That

...Pandora is the new sponsor of the Magic Kingdom's Wishes Fireworks Spectacular. On Main Street U.S.A, Midtown Jewelry now has entire section dedicated Pandora merchandise.


The back half of Midtown Jewelry on Main Street U.S.A. has been completely remodeled to house a new selection of Pandora product. Pandora is also the new sponsor of Wishes fireworks. Photo by J. Jeff Kober. 

...Looking for some great shows for preschoolers in the Walt Disney World Parks? Disney Parks Blog published a post featuring some of the best live shows for the littlest travelers.

...Take a look at some of the cool new merchandise for the upcoming Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend which runs from February 19-22. It looks like the runners are getting the royal treatment with this year's designs and items.

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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."


Expect high to mid-level crowds at Walt Disney World 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 17, 2015 9 / 10
Wednesday, February 18, 2015 7 / 10
Thursday, February 19, 2015 6 / 10
Friday, February 20, 2015 7 / 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 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.

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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.