Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
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Update for May 18 – 25, 2015

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


News and Views

Tickets for Jodi Benson special event available now |13 new locations announced for Disney Springs | Magic Kingdom 24-Hour Day Kicks off "Coolest Summer Ever" | Chef Mickey's to serve brunch starting May 31 | Star Wars Force for Change fundraising program debuts at Disney's Hollywood Studios | Disney Springs to welcome Jack Lindsey's Hangar Bar | Views around the World | Crowd Forecast

Tickets for Jodi Benson special event available now

If you are a fan of The Little Mermaid and actress/singer Jodi Benson, then you may want to check out a new event coming Sunday, July 19.

"Part of Your World: A Day with Jodi Benson," sponsored by Legend Events, is offering a limited number of people a special day at the Magic Kingdom and an evening concert in Celebration, Florida. The day includes a chance to not only have lunch with the actress who voiced Ariel, but also an opportunity to ride Journey of the Little Mermaid with her and attend an exclusive concert.

The event comes at a steep price, though, and only a total of 60 tickets are available for sale. Tickets range from $150 to $2,000, depending on how much access you wants with Jodi Benson—whether you simply want to be in the same room during lunch and the concert, or wish to sit at the same table during lunch with Ms. Benson and then ride in the same Clamobile on Journey of the Little Mermaid ride. Everyone who attends gets a complimentary autographed photo, access to a silent auction with one-of-a-kind signed merchandise, and dining gift certificate to be used during lunch.

Tickets are very limited. Reservations can be made now until the event is sold out by visiting the official event website. A full breakdown of available tickets can be found on the site, including prices for each package.

13 new tenants announced for Disney Springs

Disney announced 13 new retail and dining locations coming to Disney Springs as renovations continue in the Downtown Disney area:

Dining Locations Retail Locations
  • Blaze Pizza
  • Edison
  • Sprinkles
  • Tea Traders by Joffrey's Tea
  • Sprinkles
  • Edward Beiner
  • Lilly Pulitzer
  • L'Occitaine en Provence
  • PANDORA
  • Tommy Bahama
  • UGG
  • UNIQLO
  • Zara

The Downtown Disney/Disney Springs expansion has a scheduled completion for some time in 2016, according to Disney Parks Blog, and Disney plans to release more information about further tenants in the coming months.

Magic Kingdom 24-Hour Day Kicks off "Coolest Summer Ever"

In what seems to have become an annual tradition, Walt Disney World kicks off its official summer season with a 24-hour day in the Magic Kingdom starting at 6 a.m. on Friday, May 22 and ending at 6 a.m. on Saturday, May 23.

This year's theme, "Coolest Summer Ever," focuses once again on Frozen, with a number of the scheduled events tie-into the movie:

  • Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf join the Magic Kingdom's official Welcome Show to kick off the day.
  • Later, Olaf, Kristoff, Anna and Elsa, transform the Magic Kingdom into an icy wonderland with pre-parade appearances at the 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. Main Street Electrical Parade.
  • Tomorrowland's Rocketeer Plaza hosts showings of a sing-along Frozen from midnight to 4 a.m.

In addition to the special Frozen appearances, Magic Kingdom visitors can see current Disney Channel stars (to be announced) as Grand Marshalls of the "Festival of Fantasy Parade" at 3 p.m.

The Magic Kingdom has a number of dance parties scheduled to keep the fun going all through the day and night:

Tomorrowland DJ Frost keeps the feet moving from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Party goers can also see sneak peeks at the new Disney Channel Original movies Teen Beach 2 and Descendants.
Frontierland The Frontierland Dance Party, which runs fro, 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. will be hosted near Country Bear Jamboree
Cinderella Castle Disney’s “Up All Night” Dance Party keeps the celebration going from 2:00 a.m. to 5:45 a.m. with a DJ, stiltwalkers and lots of fun party people!

As that 24th hour comes to a close, Town Square on Main Street, U.S.A. hosts a special finale with Mickey and the gang to wrap up the celebration.

Disney Parks Blog plans to cover the event throughout the day for those of us who cannot be there. In the past, the site has had a live feed camera broadcasting from the Main Street. U.S.A. Railroad Station. Stay tuned—as the date draws closer, Disney should have more announcements about events and coverage.

Chef Mickey's to serve brunch starting May 31

One of Walt Disney World's most popular character meal restaurants, Chef Mickey's located inside the Contemporary Resort, begins offering a brunch seating starting Sunday, May 31.

With reservations opening on May 22, the new Chef Mickey's brunch runs from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This new meal can give more people a chance to be able to enjoy a meal with Chef Mickey Mouse and friends.

The menu takes some of the restaurant's breakfast favorites, including its famous Mickey waffles, and adds soups, salads, barbecue ribs, salmo,n and more to round out the brunch meal. The buffet also includes Contemporary Resort's baked goods and an ice cream bar.

Although Disney has not announced a price for the buffet brunch, you can experience thie buffet with the Disney Dining Plan, costing 1 Table Service credit. 

Star Wars Force for Change fundraising program returns to Disney's Hollywood Studios

The 2015 Star Wars Weekends not only looks to provide souvenirs for visitors to Disney's Hollywood Studios, but also plans to raise money for a worthy cause.

Star Wars: Force for Change is an initiative in which Disney teams up with UNICEF's Kid Power, a program that encourages kids around the world to get up and moving to earn points on a wearable "Power Band." When the kids earn points, program partners convert those points into funds that go toward food purchases for malnourished children. 

During the final Star Wars Weekend, June 12–14, you can purchase a limited edition Stormtrooper pin at Darth's Mall. Twenty-five percent of pin sales gets donated to U.S. Funds for UNICEF in support of the Kid Power program. 

Direct donations to this cause can be made directly through the program's official website.

Disney Springs to welcome Jack Lindsey's Hangar Bar

Disney announced the addition of Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar to the Disney Springs entertainment complex coming later this fall. 

The new restaurant, named after Indiana Jones' pilot, will be on the waterfront and sit between the new Boathouse restaurant and the Paradiso 37 restaurants in The Landing section of Disney Springs, according to an article. at the Orlando Sentinel.

The restaurant features an aviation theme and will seat 150 guests. The menu continues the Indiana Jones tie-in with Rolling Boulder Meatballs, Air Pirates Everything Pretzels with mustard and beer-cheese fondue, and a "Hovito Mojito."

Views around the World

It's the last week of the 2015 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, plus there's a lot of construction going on over at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Downtown Disney. Let's take a look.

Epcot


Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone played to large crowds, including numerous loyal fans waving Union Jack, as the final act for the Garden Rocks Concert Series at the America Garden Theater at the 2015 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival concluded its annual run on May 17, 2015. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Nearly all of Innoventions West (the side nearest The Land) is now closed behind construction walls at Epcot. The Disney Visa/Chase character photo spot is still open within (for now). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Frozen Fever Treat cupcakes are available at various locations around Walt Disney World, including these at Sunshine Seasons food court at The Land pavilion at Epcot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Hollywood Studios


Jedi Mickey leads off the procession for this year's Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Crowds were so huge at Star Wars weekends that the backstage areas were open up during the procession. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The 501st Legion provides an endless array of storm troopers and other Disney re-enactors that participate in the procession. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The big star this weekend was Ian McDiarmid, Emperor Palpatine in the Star Wars films waves to guests in the crowd. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The motorcade begins with Ashley Eckstein, who provides the voice of Ashoka Tano in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


James Arnold Taylor, the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" and "Star Wars: Rebels." He also acts as host of the event. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Darth Vader meets and greets guests in his medical chamber at the former entrance to the Backlot Studio Tour during Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Chewbacca and an Ewok greet guests across from the entrance to Star Tours during Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Downtown Disney/Disney Springs


The new Erwin Pearl store has premiered at Disney Springs. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


A new Marvel Super Hero Headquarters has opened toward the Disney Westside area across from the new food truck park. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The Margarita Bar has opened with a widened deck space at Disney Springs. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

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Crowd Forecast

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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 19, 2015 4 / 10
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 4 / 10
Thursday, May 21, 2015 4 / 10
Friday, May 22, 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!

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Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

Resort Events

2015

runDisney events

If you participate in (or are considering signing up for) runDisney events, visit our Team MousePlanet forum on the MousePad discussion board, where you can join our community of health-minded readers and staff.

2015

2016

  • Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 6–10, 2016. 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

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • Triceratop Spin – closed through May 23.

Resorts

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

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 – 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.