Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
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Update for February 24 – March 2, 2015

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

News and Views

Disney increase brings ticket prices past $100 | 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon Results | New details released about Star Wars Weekends | Did you see this Disney surprise? |  Views around the World | This and ThatCrowd update

Disney increase brings ticket prices past $100

Less than a week after MousePlanet reported the possibility of increased ticket prices, Disney followed through and raised the cost of a one-day Magic Kingdom ticket to $105, passing the $100 threshold for the first time. 

The new price points went into effect on Sunday, February 22. Ticket prices went up across the board, with the cost of a one-day ticket at either Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom going up to $97, avoiding the century mark this time around.

Multi-day pass prices also went up: a resident annual pass now costs $529 (from $485) and a seasonal pass costs $329 ($319) before taxes, according to an article at the Orlando Sentinel. Renewal prices sit at 15 percent below original purchase price. 

Disney officials appear to have no concerns or regrets about the latest price increase, according to spokesman Bryan Malenius' statement:

A day at a Disney park is unlike any other in the world, and there is strong demand for our attractions and entertainment. We continually add new experiences, and many of our guests select multi-day tickets or annual passes which provide great value and additional savings.

2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon Results


Signage for the Frozen 5K Finish, part of the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, can be seen in the Epcot parking lot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

More than 20,000 runners, the majority of them women, laced up their shoes to participate in the 2015 Disney Princess Half Marathon at the Walt Disney World Resort this past weekend (February 19-22). Over the course of the four-day weekend, runners of all ages participated in a variety of scheduled events, such as a 3.1-mile 5K family fun run, 6.2-mile 10K race, half-marathon, and various kids races. Many participants of the half-marathon also took on the Glass Slipper Challenge, which required that they complete both the10K and half-marathon.


Orange traffic cones are set along the Epcot Parking roads for the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Although men are allowed to run in this women-focused event, they are assigned to a slower corral but the fastest men are still timed based on gun time, meaning the top finishers are women. For the half-marathon, the top three finishers were:

  1. Lauren Passel (30), of New York, New York, with a time of 1:22:59.
  2. Heather Schulz (40), of Orlando, Florida, with a time of 1:23:28.
  3. Mariela Ortiz (39), of San Miguel, Argentina, with a time of 1:23:45.

Passel earned her first win in a half-marathon and recently recovered from a broken hip, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel. She only started running again in September after suffering a stress fracture from falling on ice in New York in the winter of 2014.

"I never thought I would win," she said after clocking her personal best race time with the race. "I just wanted to finish the race."

Congratulations to everyone who participated in the Princess Half Marathon Weekend, including many from our own Team MousePlanet. If you'd like to know more about runDisney races, are thinking of signing up, or just want to lead a healthier lifestyle, join us at our Team MousePlanet forum on our MousePad discussion board.

New details released about Star Wars Weekends

While it may seem so far away, the Disney's Hollywood Studios' Star Wars Weekends event will be here before you know: from May 15 to June 14, 2015. Last week, Disney made some announcements about what fans can expect at this year's event, including a few changes.

Here is a rundown of the coming to this year's event, as well as some returning fan favorite events, courtesy of Disney Parks Blog:

  • Darth's Mall moves to an expanded retail shop near the Streets of America, and offers exclusive merchandise designed just for Star Wars Weekends.
  • The Stars of the Saga talk show, hosted by James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi on Star Wars: The Clone Wars) also relocates this year, to the Theater of the Stars on Sunset Boulevard.  
  • "Symphony in the Stars" fireworks show returns this year, as well as Jedi Mickey's Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine restaurant. This is a character dining experience that has some of the Disney classic characters dressed up in Star Wars costumes.

Disney has made no official announcements, yet, regarding celebrity appearances for this years event. Fans may recall last year Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) made his debut appearance at Star Wars Weekends.

Did you see this Disney surprise?

Need a smile today? Did you catch this adorable video last week where some of Walt Disney World's iconic characters make a surprise appearance at a Long Island, New York shopping mall? Disney Parks Blog shared this unexpected visit which delighted (and sometimes confused) shoppers who are weary from a long, cold winter.


Walt Disney World sent some of its most popular residents to surprise some shoppers at a Long Island, New York mall. Disney Parks Blog.

Views around the World

For months now, we've seen many construction project around the Walt Disney World Resort. Within the past couple of weeks, our photographers have captured the tremendous progress workers have made in each of these areas. This week, the workers' time and effort can really been seen as some of these projects enter their final stages.

Magic Kingdom


Turf has been added to the plaza area. Signs indicate that these spaces are dedicated to guests with Fastpass+ reservations for Wishes. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Final railing is being added to the bridges that will stretch over the Central Plaza stream. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Interior of the new Sunglass Hut store inside of Adventureland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney's Animal Kingdom


The plaza in front of The Tree of Life on Discovery Island at Disney's Animal Kingdom has finally opened up to reveal a larger space. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The border of that space includes animals shaped into the roots of the tree. Here we have a ram. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


An elephant with tusks shape the another section of the root structure. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


With heavy crowds, a guitar player along with Chip 'n' Dale invite children to play a variety of games. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Work continues on the African Marketplace. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Terraced areas are being placed at the base of Asia to provide for the Rivers of Light show. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The land has been extensively extended into the lagoon area off the shore of Dinoland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


A behind-the-wall look at Flame Tree Barbecue as it goes through an extended rehab. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Considerable foliage has been stripped away from the area near Pizzafari. One can see the old Camp Minnie Mickey bridge toward the rear. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Main show building for the Soarin' style attraction in Avatar. It is believed that guests will ride Banshees in the center of the building with the film appearing on the perimeter. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This and That

...A number of new animal additions have joined the Disney Animal Kingdom family, including five baby sable antelopes and a baby white rhino.

...Despite the recent cold snap at the Walt Disney World Resort, Epcot workers continue to work on getting the park ready for the upcoming 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, which runs from March 4 through May 17.


Fresh landscaping has been installed on the east side of Future World in advance of the International Flower and Garden Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The blue monorail travels by fresh landscaping installed on the east side of Future World in advance of the International Flower and Garden Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

...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 web page until March 29. 

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.

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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 should be low to mid-level for the next couple of weeks.

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 24, 2015 3 / 10
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 4 / 10
Thursday, February 26, 2015 4 / 10
Friday, February 27, 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!

  • 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

MousePlanet


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 carolinakid

    I have to admit I'm not very impressed with the Hub from the pictures posted in this week's update. Of course, I won't be seeing it in person until November and then I'll be better able to make a judgment. But going by the latest pictures, it's lost much of its beauty and charm. Hope I'll be surprised when it's done.

  2. By stan4d_steph

    I'm happy to see plants and trees back in the area again.

  3. By nickjandrews

    I'll see what it looks like Wednesday. Trying not to be disappointed but I am not looking forward to the loss of open landscape there used to be which made the big difference between the MK and DL so striking.

  4. By stan4d_steph

    Quote Originally Posted by nickjandrews View Post
    I'll see what it looks like Wednesday. Trying not to be disappointed but I am not looking forward to the loss of open landscape there used to be which made the big difference between the MK and DL so striking.

    Here's a picture from 1991. The stark wasteland was a relatively new thing.

    http://angryap.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html

  5. By nickjandrews

    Quote Originally Posted by stan4d_steph View Post
    Here's a picture from 1991. The stark wasteland was a relatively new thing.

    http://angryap.blogspot.com/2011_08_01_archive.html

    Hi Steph, which picture are you referring to? I recall as a CM there in 92 the four big planters in the hub with mature trees, grass, and flowers. They were a good 3 feet tall, with wrought iron fences to keep people out. When I worked parade I always chose the same one because there was a little rabbit that lived in it. He/she would come out to see what was going on. The whole area was well landscaped with grass on river slopes, etc. It seemed less crowded then, likely because of fewer visitors? They told us then that the MK was designed to accommodate 72,000 guests.

  6. By houseofmouse

    The new area for firework viewing with the fountain is very nice! It opened for the public yesterday and we sat in the astro turf, which is very soft and looks quite real, for a while last night. I like the characters around the fountain, which are similar to Disneyland's hub characters. As for the hub, it is not done yet and is so open without the plants and trees but does looks a little weird. The Partners Statue is still under the box and the front of the hub is not done. From peeking over it looks like the center will still have plants and such but it is just empty dirt. You can see where the rebar is for the remaining concrete that still needs to be poured.
    The area really needed opening up though and will be so much better when the park is so crowded before,during and after fireworks and parades.

  7. By nickjandrews

    Well I will be seeing it Wednesday night!

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