Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
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Update for May 25 – June 1, 2015

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


News and Views

Man arrested following rescue from Bay LakeNew water side villas, restaurants coming to Wilderness Lodge | Cinderella Castle debuts new turrets | Disney's Animal Kingdom's Harambe Market opens | Disney Cruise Lines coming to New York, Miami, Galveston in 2016 | Views around the World | Crowd Forecast

Man arrested following rescue from Bay Lake

An Ohio man found himself behind bars after a night of drinking ended with him being rescued from Bay Lake by Disney marine officials.

Orange County sheriffs arrested Andrew Hall (27), of Mentor, Ohio, for "disturbing the peace at a public lodging establishment, grand theft, and criminal mischief," according to the Orlando Sentinel. Hall's troubles began after he attempted to leave Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort by riding a bicycle after a night of drinking. A resort manager noticed Hall had trouble staying balanced on the bicycle, so he decided to follow Hall in a golf cart to try to catch up and help.

Then, according to the police report, Hall got off the bike upon seeing the golf cart and ran toward it, ultimately jumping on it and crashing the windshield. From there, Hall alledgedly stole the golf cart, crashed it into a pier, then fled on foot toward the water. He then jumped into Bay Lake, at which point he quickly started to struggle in the water. Officers quickly saw that Hall was in danger, and went in after him. 

Disney estimated the damages at about $5,000. Hall was being held on $2,500 bail.

New water side villas, restaurants coming to Wilderness Lodge

Not long after Disney's Polynesian Village Resort unveiled its waterside villas, Disney's Wilderness Lodge filed plans with the South Florida Management District outlining its own new waterfront accommodations.

Unlike the Polynesian Villas, the plans do not call for workers to build the new accommodations to be built onto the water, according to the plans featured on The DIS. The newly filed plans show 26 one-story units, recreation buildings, restaurants, and new pools. Upgrades are also on the board for existing pools.  

Disney has yet not made any official announcements of the expansion.

Cinderella Castle debuts new turrets

Construction in and around Magic Kingdom's Cinderella Castle hit another milestone last week when the park pulled the curtains off two sets of new turrets.

Two new turrets stand to each side of the castle and are the first major addition to the park's centerpiece since the park opened in 1971. 

As of now, nothing new is housed in these turrets, but a number of Disney fan sites and comments on the Disney Parks Blog speculate that they will hold projection, lighting, and/or sound systems for castle shows such as Dream Along with Mickey, Celebrate the Magic, and Wishes.

Disney's Animal Kingdom's Harambe Market opens


The new African Marketplace is ready to receive guests. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney's Animal Kingdom opened its Harambe Market on May 23 in its Africa section.

As the newest dining experience on Walt Disney World property, Harambe Market offers park visitors African-themed dishes in a walk-up window setting. Rikki Niblett from our sponsor TouringPlans.com gave readers a sneak peek at the menu:

  • Kitamu Grill: offering skewered chicken and a kabob flatbread sandwich.
  • Famous Sausages: featuring a corn dog, inspired by a South African sausage called a boerewors, dipped in curry-infused corn batter.
  • Chef Mwanga’s: specializes in a spice-rubbed karubi rib with green papaya-carrot slaw.
  • Wanjohi Refreshments: offering unique African-inspired beverages.

In addition to the new food options, more than 200 shaded seating areas will provide a cool place during mealtimes for park visitors.

Disney Cruise Lines coming to New York, Miami and Galveston in 2016

Disney Cruise Line announced last week that Galveston, Miami, and New York will be ports of call starting in October 2016.

Full ship itineraries and ports of call are now available on the Disney Cruise Line website, but some highlights include:

  • October 2, 2016 - The Disney Magic sails from New York on a five-night cruise to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick in Canada. 
  • October 7, 2016 - The Disney Magic sails from New York on an eight-night Bahamian cruise that includes stops at Castaway Cay, Nassau, Bahamas, and Port Canaveral, Florida.
  • October 15, 22, and 29, 2016 - The Disney Magic sails from New York on seven-night cruises that stop at Castaway Cay and Port Canaveral. Travelers also have the opportunity to visit the Walt Disney World Resort when the ship stops at nearby Port Canaveral. Each guest on these sailings receive a one-day Walt Disney World Park Hopper ticket and round-trip transportation for the short trip between the ship and the resort.
  • November 20 and December 4, 2016 - The Disney Magic sails from Miami to the Western Caribbean including Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay.
  • November 27 and December 11 - The Disney Magic sails to the Eastern Caribbean including Tortola, St. Thomas, and Castaway Cay.
  • December 2 - The Disney Wonder sails on a seven-night Caribbean itinerary from Galveston to Falmouth, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel.
  • December 23 - The Disney Wonder sails to Tortola, San Juan, and Castaway Cay
  • December 16 - The Disney Wonder sails from Galveston on a seven-night cruise to Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Grand Cayman. 

Views around the World

The summer season officially kicked off last week with the 24-Hour Coolest Summer Ever party. Disney workers continue to plug away at various construction projects to accommodae the growing crowds and make improvements to the parks overall. And, Star Wars Weekends continue to be a big draw for Disney's Hollywood Studios. 

Disney's Animal Kingdom


Flame Tree Barbecue is finishing up its remodeling and opening up soon. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The area leading to the bridge to Avatar has greatly widened. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


A new path is being cut on Discovery Island. The Tree of Life is on the left. A bridge crossing over a small stream is being forged on the right. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Magic Kingdom


A section of the Emporium at Magic Kingdom facing Town Square is surrounded by a tarp-covered scaffold. The store and barbershop next door remain open. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


"No Selfie Sticks" signs have been posted this week at Big Thunder Mountain at Magic Kingdom. It is likely that more signs like these will be posted on attractions throughout the resort, as the Selfie Sticks increasingly raise safety concerns. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Hollywood Studios


Boba Fett poses for photos in the Tatooine Bounty Hunter Photo Zone 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.


The Symphony in the Stars fireworks show concludes the day during Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…The MousePlanet Newsletter is here! The newsletter contains a recap of the week's articles (in case you miss a day), news that may have developed since the weekly Updates were published, and tips about what's happening at the Disney theme parks for the coming weekend. We'll also include a fun MouseAdventure bonus, such as an Eye Spy or a trivia question. To subscribe to our free newsletter, just enter your e-mail in the box below.

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Crowd Forecast

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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 26, 2015 7 / 10
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 5 / 10
Thursday, May 28, 2015 5 / 10
Friday, May 29, 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

Typhoon Lagoon

  • Entire park closes from October 25 - December 1, 2015 for reburbishment

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.