Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
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Update for March 2 – 9, 2015

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

News and Views

2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival opens this week | Magic Kingdom's 2015 Special Events dates released | Pirates of the Caribbean scheduled for lengthy refurbishment through the summer | Magic Kingdom opens new parade and fireworks viewing areas | Marketplace Co-Op Gallery in March | Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel offers festival discount | Disney Egg-stravaganza returns to Epcot on March 27 | Views around the World | This and That | Crowd update

2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival opens this week

In a true sign of spring being just around the corner, the 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival opens this Wednesday, March 4 and runs through Sunday, May 17.

The annual event showcases incredible topiary creations sculpted to look like classic Disney characters, and gardens filled with flowers of every color of the rainbow. Guests can also attend live demonstrations on how to grow their own gardens and sample a variety of international cuisine to throughout the 75-day festival.

Each weekend, Epcot presents special events that include music, seminars, tours and more. Make sure to check the guide below and/or pick one up at the parks to get information on how to make reservations. We'll have an event guide updated each week for MousePlanet readers.

Here's what you can expect for Week #1 of the 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival:

Friday, March 6    
Gardens of the World Tour: A three-hour tour of special displays and international Gardens. 9:00 – noon Epcot
Connect with Disney's Horticulture: Tips from Disney Horticulturists abut growing and maintaining the gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort. 10:00 – 4:00 Festival Center
Ask an Expert: Master Gardeners from IFAS at the University of Florida 10:00 – 4:00 Festival Center
Robert Bowden, Director, Harry P. Leu Gardens; Disney Chef demonstration 11:00, 2:00 Greenhouse Stage
Jenks Farmer, Plantsman and Author Noon, 3:00 Fresh Epcot Stage
"Planting Pointers" 1:00, 4:00 University of Florida Stage
English Tea Garden Tour 1:00, 3:45, 6:15 Tea Caddy
Chef Demo 3:00 Port of Entry, Showcase Plaza
Garden Rocks Concert Series: Gin Blossoms 5:30, 6:45, 8:00 American Gardens Theater
Saturday, March 7    
Gardens of the World Tour: A three-hour tour of special displays and international Gardens. 9:00 – noon Epcot
Connect with Disney's Horticulture: Tips from Disney Horticulturists abut growing and maintaining the gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort 10:00 – 4:00 Festival Center
Ask an Expert: Master Gardeners from IFAS at the University of Florida. 10:00 – 4:00 Festival Center
Robert Bowden, Director, Harry P. Leu Gardens; Disney Chef demonstration 11:00, 2:00 Greenhouse Stage
Jenks Farmer, Plantsman and Author Noon, 3:00 Fresh Epcot Stage
"Planting Pointers" 1:00, 4:00 University of Florida Stage
English Tea Garden Tour 1:00, 3:45, 6:15 Tea Caddy
Chef Demo 3:00 Port of Entry, Showcase Plaza
Garden Rocks Concert Series: Gin Blossoms 5:30, 6:45, 8:00 American Gardens Theater
Sunday, March 8    
Gardens of the World Tour: A three-hour tour of special displays and international Gardens. 9:00 – noon Epcot
Connect with Disney's Horticulture: Tips from Disney Horticulturists abut growing and maintaining the gardens of the Walt Disney World Resort 10:00 – 4:00 Festival Center
Ask an Expert: Master Gardeners from IFAS at the University of Florida 10:00 – 4:00 Festival Center
Robert Bowden, Director, Harry P. Leu Gardens; Disney Chef demonstration 11:00, 2:00 Greenhouse Stage
Jenks Farmer, Plantsman and Author Noon, 3:00 Fresh Epcot Stage
"Planting Pointers" 1:00, 4:00 University of Florida Stage
English Tea Garden Tour 1:00, 3:45, 6:15 Tea Caddy
Chef Demo 3:00 Port of Entry, Showcase Plaza
Garden Rocks Concert Series: Gin Blossoms 5:30, 6:45, 8:00 American Gardens Theater
Monday, March 9    
Gardens of the World Tour: A three-hour tour of special displays and international Gardens. 9:00 – noon Epcot
English Tea Garden Tour 3:45, 6:15 Tea Caddy
Tuesday, March 10    
Gardens of the World Tour 9:00 – noon Epcot
English Tea Garden Tour 3:45, 6:15 Tea Caddy

Magic Kingdom's 2015 Special Events dates released

Party fans, get out your calendars.

Disney released the dates for the 2015 Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom last week.

These annual, hard-ticket events invite visitors of all ages to celebrate these holidays in a variety of magical ways, from dressing up in costume and trick-or-treating around the Magic Kingdom during the Halloween party to enjoying cookies, cocoa, live shows and so much more during the Christmas party.

The Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party for 25 evenings from September to November:

  • September 15, 18, 20, 22, 25, and 27
  • October 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29, and 31
  • November 1

Based on this schedule, Disney decided to start the party about two weeks later this year compared to the premiere night of September 1 in 2014. This year's schedule also has one fewer day than last year.

Then, in November and December, the Magic Kingdom welcomes Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party for 20 nights:

  • November 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, and 29
  • December 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, and 18

Anyone looking to travel to Magic Kingdom during these months should keep these dates in mind, as the park closes at 7:00 p.m. on scheduled party days. Visitors may want to plan their park days accordingly.

Disney announced that tickets for both events go on sale in April. Disney Parks Blog plans to announce specific dates soon.

Pirates of the Caribbean scheduled for lengthy refurbishment through the summer

Disney announced last week that one of the Magic Kingdom's most popular attractions, Pirates of the Caribbean, will be closed all summer due to a major refurbishment project.

The project, which Disney scheduled for May 11 through September 25, focuses on a number of items that need attention. MousePlanet fans may recall reading about two accidents with injuries reported at Pirates of the Caribbean in 2014. Recent visitors also report numerous closures of the ride and claim there are issues with the pirate Audio-Animatronics not working properly, as well as other potential issues with the boats on the attraction.

We plan to let you know about the specific areas addressed in this refurbishment project as we learn about them.

Visitors scheduled to visit at this time should be aware that this closure could affect wait times at other major attractions in the Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom opens new parade and fireworks viewing areas

Workers are wrapping up the first phase lengthy construction project in and around the Magic Kingdom hub in front of Cinderella Castle. The Central Plaza area between Main Street U.S.A and Cinderella Castle opened, adding gardens, new pathways and expanded restaurant seating.


The new Central Plaza park has opened along with signage indicating that it's dedicated at night to Fastpass+ viewing. Notes the sponsorship as well with Pandora. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

A new Fastpass+ viewing section for the fireworks and parade relocated to the Main Street Plaza Gardens, which is adjacent to The Crystal Palace, according to a post on Disney Parks Blog.

To make Fastpass+ reservations, visit the My Disney Experience website.


A view of that same west side park facing back toward Main Street U.S.A. Note the exit signs for the fireworks viewing. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Marketplace Co-Op Gallery in March

The WonderGround Gallery in Downtown Disney's Marketplace Co-Op is expanded starting in March, according to a post on Disney Parks Blog.

The gallery, which hosts its grand opening on March 6 and 7, features drawings, limited edition photographs, signs, and other valuable pieces of art. Many of the original pieces in the gallery came from the Downtown Disney District in California.

The MarketPlace Co-Op offers a unique experience for visitors, as the space is often used for new retail space and and experimenting with store concepts before they hit the general public.

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel offers festival discount

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel has a 40 percent discount for visitors who book a stay between March 4 and May 17, 2015.

These dates make up the 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, and the hotel decided to provide an extra incentive for anyone wanting to come down to enjoy the annual festival.

According to a report from the Orlando Sentinel, the Swan and Dolphin also plans to offer Easter activities for guests during April 1 and 8, 2015. Some of these activities include egg hunts, races, meet-and-greets with favorite characters and more.

For more information on rates and how to book a trip, visit the Swan and Dolphin official website.

Disney Egg-stravaganza returns to Epcot on March 27

Between March 27 and April 25, 2015, Epcot visitors have the chance to participate in a Egg-stravaganza filled with special hidden eggs around World Showcase.

Visitors can pick up a map and stickers for $4.95 per tax at either Heritage Manor Gifts at the American Adventure Pavilion, Pin Central, Plaza Towers (Port of Entry) and World Traveler (International Gateway). These maps help egg hunters make their way around the park to find the elusive colorful eggs. Once an egg is found, the hunter places a sticker in the appropriate pace. Once the map is complete, the hunter can return to pick up a special prize.

Even those who do not purchase a special map and stickers can still participate in the Egg-stravanza and return an incomplete map to redeem a prize. Participants must claims his or her prizes by April 30, 2015.

Views around the World

More shots from our photographers showing some of the new viewing areas around the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios courtesy of months of hard work by construction workers.

Magic Kingdom


From the walkway leading to Cinderella Castle, one can see the construction underway on both sides. Here, old Victorian-style ramada are being removed, and new castle turrets are being installed to house audio/video support for the castle shows. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The fountains are quickly becoming a popular spot to take a photo in front of the castle, especially given construction closer in. Note that the statues of Disney characters such as Chip 'n' Dale surround the fountains. They used to be closer in to the Partner's statue of Mickey and Walt. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Another shot of the fountain on the east side, this time with Pluto. The east side is opening up shortly. It is fairly identical to the west side park. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The braille map has been replaced, but this time on the right side of the street entering the park. What is noticeably missing is the tip board that used to be across from Casey's on the left side. With the online additional helps of MyMagic+, it is possible that the tip board will not return. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney's Hollywood Studios


An old familiar site has returned to the end of Hollywood Boulevard, now that the Sorcerer hat has been removed. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Closer up the Chinese Theater seems sort of barren. The original design had a low Mickey-nose planter in front with tall palms flanking the theater on both sides, sort of framing in the view. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Inside The Great Movie Ride, new marquee posters line along the interior queue right before the theater queue. Here we see a poster showcasing Fantasia. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Fans of Starring Rolls will be happy to know that this corner spot in the park did not go away when the larger Starbucks opened across the street. And, there's a place to sit and enjoy your refreshments, no matter which eatery you bought it at. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Guests visit the Cinderella sneak preview underway at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The film premieres March 13th. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This and That

...Disney announced Bob Chapek would become the chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, taking the place of Tom Staggs, who was recently named chief operating officer of the Walt Disney Company. According to a report from Variety, Chapek has been with Walt Disney World for more than 27 years, including serving as president of Disney Consumer products since 2011.

...Disney released a new video about the changes coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom with the AVATAR construction.

...On Friday, March 6 from 6:00 to 10:00 a.m. the public is invited to join the 15th anniversary celebration of The "Mike and MIke" show festivities at the Waterside Stage at Downtown Disney Marketplace. The “Mike & Mike” show airs nationally on ESPN2, ESPN Radio and ESPNRadio.com and features Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic giving the daily rundown of the top sports news.

... Disney Cruise Line received 12 first-place designations from The Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards last week. Awards are given based on the personal experiences of cruisers who sailed in 2014. All four Disney ships received recognition in categories such as Best Overall, Best for Families, Best Service and Best Entertainment. Thanks to Disney Parks Blog for sharing the news!

...Have you seen the new Cinderella Coach souvenir, premium popcorn container coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios posted on Disney Parks Blog?

...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.

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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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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, March 3, 2015 5 / 10
Wednesday, March 4, 2015 6 / 10
Thursday, March 5, 2015 5 / 10
Friday, March 6, 2015 5 / 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!

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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 danyoung

    I believe you have a fairly large error on the current WDW Update. You stated that "Disney announced Bob Chapek would become the Walt Disney World chairman, taking the place of Bob Iger". This is incorrect. Bob is replacing Tom Staggs as the head of Disney parks, not just WDW. And it is Staggs who will most likely take over from Bob Iger, although I don't think this has been publicly stated by Disney.

    Other than that, nice article!

  2. By SimbaOne

    Hopefully we get a new fireworks show considering all of the new viewing area/FastPass+ infrastructure. It would be kind of lame if they did all that and just kept the same Wishes show they've been running for a dozen years now, while Disneyland has gotten a few (vastly superior) new shows in that amount of time, with a new one coming soon.

  3. By ricktib

    Here is the aforementioned planter, circa 1990:

    Attachment 8451

  4. Discuss this article on MousePad.