Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
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Update for May 5 – 11, 2015

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


News and Views

Disney's Hollywood Studios testing new food pre-order option | Disability Access Service goes digital at Walt Disney World | American Music Machine debuts at Epcot's American Garden Theater | More stores open in Downtown Disney/Disney Springs area | Inside Out preview coming to Epcot's Imagination pavilion | 2015 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival Guide:May 8 to 10 | Views around the World | This and that... | Crowd Update

Disney's Hollywood Studios testing new food pre-order option

Walt Disney World began testing a new smartphone application that allows visitors to preorder food from two Disney Hollywood Studios' locations: Backlot Express and Fantasmic. Guests can download the Express Order app for free for Apple and Android devices, according to an invitation received by a MousePlanet editor last week.

Food preorders are not new at Walt Disney World (Be Our Guest has been doing this for a while with breakfast and lunch), but in this latest development, you can choose to eat at the restaurant, pick it up to go, or, in the case of Fantasmic, have it delivered directly to your seat before the show.

  1. After you download the Express Order app, log on and view the full menu, which includes descriptions, prices, and photos of the food.
  2. Decide whether you want the Backlot Express or Fantasmic as your meal experience (on nights with two shows, you can only preorder for the first show).
  3. Place your order on the app.
  4. Choose whether you want to pick up your meal or have it delivered to your table/seat. At Fantasmic, a cast member can bring your food—as well as souvenirs—directly to your seat before the show starts.
  5. Review and confirm your order, and pay with a credit card.  

According to Rikki Niblett from our sponsor TouringPlans.com, Disney plans to run the test until Thursday, May 14. Disney has not provided any other information about the new app at this time, but MousePlanet will provide updates as they are released.

Disability Access Service goes digital at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World's Disability Access Service (DAS) converted from a card program to a digital system last week with the hopes of streamlining what some consider to be a long and tedious process. According to an article at the Orlando Sentinel, you can now link the DAS program to your MagicBand or admission ticket.

Visitors to Walt Disney World with medical issues or special needs can use DAS to make waiting for attractions and rides easier to cope with, especially on very crowded days. Until last week, a member of the person's party went to City Hall on Main Street U.S.A. to pick up a card to be carried throughout the day. Someone in the special needs' party would present the card to a cast member, who would write down a return time for the party to come back and enjoy the ride or attraction—usually this would be the current standby wait time minus 10 minutes. The DAS holder and the rest of the party could then go off to enjoy themselves elsewhere park until the stated return time.

Once the return time arrives, everyone in that party, including the DAS holder, comes back and is allowed to ride or see the attraction with a minimal wait. Once everyone has enjoyed the ride or attraction, the party can move to another ride, submit the DAS card and start the process over.

Even with the switchover to digital, a representative from the special needs party will need to begin the day at Town Hall to activate the DAS for the day. Overall, though, Disney hopes that by taking the handwriting out of the equation, the system will be more efficent for visitors who need a little extra magic in their vacation. 

American Music Machine debuts at Epcot's American Garden Theater

As part of a new wave of live artists arriving at Epcot's World Showcase, a new vocal group has hit the American Garden Theatre. The American Music Machine is a five-member, a capella group who sings contemporary numbers, as well as classic American songs. 

Shows run every Wednesday through Sunday. Park visitors should check current times guide to confirm show performance times. 

More stores open in Downtown Disney/Disney Springs area

Progress continues in the Downtown Disney/Disney Spring area, with two more shops opening its doors last week.

For those looking for a little bling, Erwin Pearl jewelry store has earrings, pins, watches, and bracelets available in various shapes and sizes. The new jewelry location can be found in The Landing.

Over on the West Side in the former United World Soccer Shop location, the new Super Hero Headquarters is now open. Shoppers can expect to find Marvel merchandise, toys, collectibles, and many other fun items. Our sponsor TouringPlans.com says visitors should expect a high-tech experience as soon as they go through the shop doors. 

Two other shops—the Vivoli Gelateria and Joffrey's Tea—are scheduled to open soon, but Disney has provided no date at this time. 

Inside Out preview coming to Epcot's Imagination pavilion

The Magic Eye Theater in Epcot's Imagination pavilion hosts a special preview of the newest Pixar movie Inside Out coming to theaters on July 19.

According to multiple online reports, the current Tomorrowland preview hosted in the same location shuts down on Sunday, May 24 to make way for the 12-minute Inside Out preview scheduled to start on Saturday, May 30.

2015 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival Guide:May 8 to 10

It's Week 10 at the 2015 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival; there's only one week more to go after this. The months are really flying by, aren't they?

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

Friday, May 8    
Gardens of the World Tour: A three-hour tour of special displays and international Gardens. 9:00 – noon Epcot
J Schwanke, flower expert shares tips and tricks on what to plan in your garden 11:00, 2:00 Greenhouse Stage
Debra Prinizinig, outdoor living expert, speaker and author 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
Florida Fresh Weekend Experiences 10:00 – 5:00 Festival Center
Garden Rocks Concert Series: Little River Band 5:30, 6:45, 8:00 American Gardens Theater
Saturday, May 9    
Gardens of the World Tour: A three-hour tour of special displays and international Gardens. 9:00 – noon Epcot
J Schwanke, flower expert shares tips and tricks on what to plan in your garden. 11:00, 2:00 Greenhouse Stage
Debra Prinizinig, outdoor living expert, speaker and author. 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
Garden Rocks Concert Series: Little River Band 5:30, 6:45, 8:00 American Gardens Theater
Sunday, May 10    
Gardens of the World Tour: A three-hour tour of special displays and international Gardens. 9:00 – noon Epcot
J Schwanke, flower expert shares tips and tricks on what to plan in your garden. 11:00, 2:00 Greenhouse Stage
Debra Prinizinig, outdoor living expert, speaker and author. 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
Garden Rocks Concert Series: Little River Band  5:30, 6:45, 8:00 American Gardens Theater

Views around the World

As the 2015 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival winds down, one of our photographers decided to spend the day trying to capture the mood and images of a typical day in the park. Wait until you see what he found.

Epcot


Monorail Silver glides over the ticket booths and into Epcot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


A construction crane towers over Epcot's Canada pavilion to aid in the building of the additional theater for Soarin'. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


This year's sand sculpture to mark the Earth Day opening of Disneynature's latest film, "Monkey Kingdom," is now located at the African Outpost on the World Showcase Promenade at Epcot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Voices of Liberty perform on Mondays and Tuesdays in the American Gardens Theater across from the American Adventure at Epcot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Earth-moving equipment is preparing the area between Epcot's Mexico and Norway pavilions for the future "Frozen"-themed expansion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Construction cranes for the expansion of Soarin' are visible towering over the Canada pavilion and the blue building that houses the current Soarin' theaters at Epcot's Land pavilion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Mickey and Minnie topiaries stand between Future World and World Showcase during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival this Spring. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Monorail Lime approaches the Epcot monorail station. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Hollywood Studios


A couple of the Citizens of Hollywood "hide" behind newspapers on a balcony at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


An outside company's sand castle artist works on a castle on the Streets of America at Disney's Hollywood Studios for the media event publicizing this summer's "Frozen Fun" promotion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Orange Bird plush toys are plentiful at the Crossroads kiosk inside the turnstile at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This and that...

...Are you a Walt Disney World merchandise fan? Then, you should check out the May schedule of events released by Disney for all the merchandise events in and around the parks.

...Disney's Hollywood Studios hosted a media event to promote the "Coolest Summer Ever" promotion kicking off soon and as part of the festivities, guests had a chance to enjoy a special Frozen fireworks show made exclusively for them. Thanks to the Orlando Sentinel, though, you can get a chance to view this show! Enjoy!

 

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Do more. Wait less.

>Save time and money at Walt Disney World. TouringPlans.com cna help ou avoid falling int the typical tourst 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, May 5, 2015 5 / 10
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 4 / 10
Thursday, May 7, 2015 4 / 10
Friday, May 8, 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!

See Disney World crowds for the next 365 days.
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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. Many events are sold out.
  • 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 Hollywood Studios

Resorts

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

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 10-27, 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.

Free Dining Plan Offer

Get a free dining plan when booking a non-discounted 6-night/7-day Walt Disney Travel Company package that includes a room at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels and ticket with either a Park Hopper or Water Park Fun & More option.

Offer is valid for arrivals most nights from August 28 to October 2, October 25–31, November 8–19, and December 15–21.

The booking window is now through July 10, 2015.

Guests receive the Disney Dining Plan if they stay at select Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts, Disney Deluxe Resorts, or a Disney Moderate Resorts.

Guests receive the Quick-Service Dining Plan if they stay at select Disney Value Resorts.

The offer excludes:

  • The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney's Polynesian Villas and Bungalows
  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort
  • Disney's Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard View Rooms, campsites, 3-bedroom villas
  • Disney's All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort and Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort (between October 25 and December 21).

Dining plans exclude alcohol and gratuities.

Children ages 3 through 9 must order from the children's menu.

To check for availability, visit either the Walt Disney World official webpage, call a Walt Disney World vacation specialist at (407) 827-7181 or contact a travel agent.


Up to a 30 percent room-only discount offered for fall season

For those who either choose not to or cannot use the free dining package, Disney also announced a discount of up to a 30 percent off on rooms for the late summer/early fall.

Here are the offer details:

Offer is valid August 15 through October 3, 2015

The booking window is now through August 7, 2015

Save 30%:

  • 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 Village Resort
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Save 25%:

  • Disney Port Orleans – Riverside (August 15–27 only)
  • Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
  • The Cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort (August 15 to October 3).

Save 20%:

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas – Jambo House
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge – Savanna View/Club Level Rooms
  • Disney's Beach Club Villas
  • The Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney's Beach Club Resort
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort.
  • Disney Port Orleans – Riverside (August 28 to October 3)
  • Disney's Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter (August 15 to October 3)
  • Disney's All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney's All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney's Art of Animation Resort – Family Suites Only
  • Disney's Pop Century Resort

Save 15%:

  • Campsites at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort

To check for availability, visit either the Walt Disney World official webpage, call a Walt Disney World vacation specialist at (407) 827-7181, or contact a travel agent.


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.