Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
Advertisement

Update for April 14 – 20, 2015

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


News and Views

Passenger dies at Richard Petty Driving Experience | Captain EO is out; Tomorrowland preview is in at Epcot | Walt Disney World clarifies selfie stick policy for theme parks |Star Wars Weekends rates | Disney's Animal Kingdom's African Aviary reopens with new species |2015 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival Guide - April 10 - 12Views around the World | This and that... | Crowd Update

Passenger dies at Richard Petty Driving Experience

A passenger riding in a race car at the Walt Disney World Richard Petty Driving Experience died Sunday, April 12 following an accident on the racetrack.

At about 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Tavon Watson, 24, of Kissimmee was behind the wheel of the Lamborghini and was unable to manuever through one of the course's turns, allowing the vehicle's right side to collide with a guardrail, according to an Orlando Sentinel report published Sunday evening. Watson was taken to Celebration Hospital with minor injuries.

The passenger, identified by the Florida Highway Patrol as a 36-year-old Gary Terry of Davenport, died at the scene. The Sentinel reported that Terry ws the track's operation manager.

Andrea Finger, spokesperson for Walt Disney World said "We offer our deepest sympathies to those involved in today's tragic accident."

The Florida Highway Patrol plans to continue the investigation.

Located south of the Magic Kingdom, the racetrack was already slated to close on June 28 as part of a large transportation improvemet project. There is no word on whether the end date will change as a result of this accident.

Captain EO is out; Tomorrowland preview is in at Epcot

Thursday, April 9 marked the closing of Captain EO at the Imagination pavilion in Epcot to make way for a special preview event featuring Tomorrowland, Disney’s upcoming feature film. Captain EO, starring Michael Jackson and directed by legendary director Francis Ford Coppola, returned to Epcot’s Future World in 2010 following Jackson’s death. Starting this week, the Tomorrowland preview event invites park visitors to get a first look at the latest Disney feature, scheduled to open on May 22. Once the film debuts, the Epcot special event will go dark.

The Orlando Weekly reported that Disney says Captain EO could return to Epcot, but offered no specific date.

Want to get a peek at Tomorrowland before it hits Epcot or theaters? Disney released this new featurette last week!


Epcot debuts a new preview video for the upcoming Disney feature film Tomorrowland scheduled to open on May 22. Walt Disney Studios.

Walt Disney World clarifies selfie stick policy for theme parks

Selfie sticks are still allowed at Walt Disney World, according to Disney officials last week, but how they can be used is limited.

Last week, a number of unofficial Disney sites published an article about a complete ban of selfie sticks at the Walt Disney World theme parks. These posts sparked an uproar among theme park fans who love taking selfies with their sticks. News spread like wildfire online, which of course led to much arguing and debate.

"Guests riding attractions, trams and other moving vehicles are already asked to securely stow any equipment such as cameras, canes and other personal belongings -- and selfie sticks are in the same category," said a Disney spokeswoman according to the Orlando Sentinel

For now, it seems the hotly debated photo tool is sticking around for a while at theme parks. Stay tuned for updates as we hear them.

What do you think? Should theme parks like Walt Disney World ban selfie sticks?

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin offer special Star Wars Weekends rates

Fans of Star Wars Weekends looking for a deal might want to start their quest at The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel which is offering guests the chance to enjoy the month-long Star Wars Weekends celebration at Disney's Hollywood Studios with special rates starting at $185 from May 15 through June 15.

Star Wars Weekends will be held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 15-June 14. The 2015 event will feature Star Wars characters roaming the theme park for meet-and-greet opportunities, star conversations with Star Wars celebrities, a Star Wars motorcade through the park, interactive activities, exclusive merchandise and more.

For more details about savings at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel, visit www.swandolphin.com/offers. To make reservations, call 1 (800) 227-1500 and mention “STARWARS.” Rates start at $185 per night. Taxes, resort services fee and gratuities not included. Not valid with any other special offers, promotions, or for existing reservations or groups; offer is based on rate schedule availability.

Disney's Animal Kingdom's African Aviary reopens with new species

Disney's Animal Kingdom workers recently completed moving hundreds of birds back to the Africa Aviary following a refurbishment project.

Located on the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, the Africa Aviary holds 221 birds from 29 different species. The renovations, according to Disney Parks Blog, allow the exhibit to house smaller birds than before, which allow the park to add to their beautiful display.

Five new species joined the Pangani flock including: bronze mannikins, cut-throat finches, lavender waxbills, pintail whydah and paradise whydah. These birds feature many variations of colors, behaviors and songs that add to the already-thriving avian chorus. They may be small in size, but they can generally be seen in large groups flying through the aviary.

More birds are scheduled to be added to the aviary over the next few months. Keep an eye out for updates as we receive them.

2015 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival Guide - April 17 - 19

It doesn't seem possible that the 2015 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival is already is preparing for its seventh weekend, but time flies when you're having fun, right?


For the first time ever, Chip 'n' Dale appear as topiaries with the rest of the Disney gang. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

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 #7 of the 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival:

Friday, April 17    
Gardens of the World Tour: A three-hour tour of special displays and international Gardens. 9:00 – noon Epcot
Tom MacCubbin, garden celebrity and author. 11:00, 2:00 Greenhouse Stage
Rochelle Greayer, author, founder, editor of Pith and Vigor. Noon, 3:00 Fresh Epcot Stage
"Planting Pointers": join experts as they present great gardening ideas for everyone 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: Jon Secada 5:30, 6:45, 8:00 American Gardens Theater
Saturday, April 18    
Gardens of the World Tour: A three-hour tour of special displays and international Gardens. 9:00 – noon Epcot
 Tom MacCubbin, garden celebrity and author. 11:00, 2:00 Greenhouse Stage
Rochelle Greayer, author, founder, editor of Pith and Vigor. Noon, 3:00 Fresh Epcot Stage
"Planting Pointers": join experts as they present great gardening ideas for everyone. 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: Jon Secada. 5:30, 6:45, 8:00 American Gardens Theater
Sunday, April 19    
Gardens of the World Tour: A three-hour tour of special displays and international Gardens. 9:00 – noon Epcot
Tom MacCubbin, garden celebrity and author. 11:00, 2:00 Greenhouse Stage
Rochelle Greayer, author, founder, editor of Pith and Vigor. Noon, 3:00 Fresh Epcot Stage
"Planting Pointers": join experts as they present great gardening ideas for everyone. 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: Jon Secada 5:30, 6:45, 8:00 American Gardens Theater

Views around the World

Magic Kingdom


The scrims are down on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom! Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Word is that the paper pass for Guests with Disabilities will come to an end on May 1st and will be replaced by an electronic version on MyMagic. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Epcot


A lumberjack jumps rope in the new Canadian Lumberjacks show. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Topiaries of Pumbaa and Timon are located on the World Showcase promenade near the African Outpost for the 2015 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival which runs from March 4 to May 17, 2015. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This and that...

...Disney launched the Kids Remember Contest last week. To enter, participants must share a video of their child's favorite Walt Disney World memory. The video can be submitted via Instagram, Vimeo or Twitter.

One grand prize winner and their little ones will win a trip to Walt Disney World to experience the Ultimate Princess & Pirate Vacation for a family of four. The prize package includes:

  • A night's stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite
  • 5 nights in a Pirate Room at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Four 7-Day Magic Your Way Tickets with Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun & More Options
  • Memory Maker package - Enjoy unlimited digital photos taken at Disney PhotoPass locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort
  • Lunch at Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine with Sofia the First and Jake and the Neverland Pirates
  • One Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or Pirate's League makeover
  • A Disney Gift Card for extra magic during your stay
  • Travel to and from the Walt Disney World Resort

Join the MousePlanet Newsletter
E-mail:

 

 

Advertisement

"Do more. Wait less."

 

Save time and money at Walt Disney World.

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, April 14, 2015 4 / 10
Wednesday, April 15, 2015 5 / 10
Thursday, April 16, 2015 6 / 10
Friday, April 17, 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!

See Disney World crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disney World wait times on your iPhone, Android or smartphone.
Do more. Wait less.

Crowd Forecast

 

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

Save Up to 30 percent with room discount

Summer travelers looking to save money on Walt Disney World trip have some new options with last week's new room discount announcement

Visitors traveling between June 16 and August 27, 2015 can save between 15 percent and 30 percent off regular room rates with this promotion.

Room inventory is limited and this promotion only lasts until June 12 and certain exclusions apply (see below). 

To make reservations, contact your travel agent or visit the official Walt Disney World website.

June 16 - August 27, 2015

Save 30%

  • Deluxe/Deluxe Villas: Disney's Boardwalk Villas, Disney's Old Key West Resort, Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Standard & Pool View, Disney's Boardwalk Inn, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Wilderness Lodge, Disney's Yacht Club Resort.

Save 20%

  • Deluxe: Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge - Savannah & Club View, Disney's Beach Club, Disney's Contemporary Resort

Weekdays June 16 - August 9, 2015

Save 20%

  • Moderate: Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Fort Wilderness Cabins, Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside.

Save 15%

  • Value: Disney's All Star Sports Resort, Disney's All Star Music Resort, Disney's Pop Century Resort, Disney's Art of Animation Resort - Family Suites Only.

Weekends August 10 - August 27, 2015

Save 25%

  • Moderate: Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Fort Wilderness Cabins, Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside.

Save 20%

  • Value: Disney's All Star Sports Resort, Disney's All Star Music Resort, Disney's Pop Century Resort, Disney's Art of Animation Resort - Family Suites Only.

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

None at this time


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 ourtrip

    I think those selfie sticks are more of a pain than anything else. I would hope they would be banned during shows since most large concerts are now banning them due to how they impact the views of other customers.

    *I think the lumberjack is jumping rope and not doing jumping jacks in the photo.

  2. By davidgra

    I'm not happy at all about Captain EO being displaced for a movie preview. The former "Sounds Dangerous" theater in the Studios is a perfect location for such a preview, so why kick out a "classic" attraction? But, I suppose if Captain EO is returned after the preview period is over, I won't be too upset.

    As for selfie sticks, I say ban them. There is no earthly reason for anyone to need to use one of those in a theme park. Want your picture taken somewhere? Ask one of the 40,000 other people in that theme park if they'll take your picture. People are happy to do that. It's nice to have actual human interaction. Want to get a great video or photo of a parade? Get there early and secure yourself a spot in front. Don't stick the stupid stick into the air to shoot over peoples' heads. Unfortunately, I think it'll take a guest being injured by a selfie stick to get Disney to take action.

    Oh, and his name is "Timon," not "Timone." Just FYI.

  3. By towels

    Agree to the above on the selfie sticks. It's the other coast, but I was sorely disappointed at the number of those things sticking up during World of Color.

  4. By LtPowers

    Quote Originally Posted by davidgra View Post
    I'm not happy at all about Captain EO being displaced for a movie preview. The former "Sounds Dangerous" theater in the Studios is a perfect location for such a preview, so why kick out a "classic" attraction? But, I suppose if Captain EO is returned after the preview period is over, I won't be too upset.

    Presumably, the ABC Sound Studio isn't equipped for 3D. And I believe I saw the Tomorrowland preview will make use of the special effects in the Imagination theater, which the Sound Studio theater doesn't have.


    Powers &8^]

  5. By davidgra

    Quote Originally Posted by LtPowers View Post
    Presumably, the ABC Sound Studio isn't equipped for 3D. And I believe I saw the Tomorrowland preview will make use of the special effects in the Imagination theater, which the Sound Studio theater doesn't have.

    I saw the Maleficent preview in 3D at the ABC Sound Studio last year. They didn't appear to have any trouble with 3D then. It was actually nice to see that space being used for something again.

  6. Discuss this article on MousePad.