Walt Disney World Resort Update for July 20 - 27, 2015

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer

Update for July 20 – 27, 2015

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

News and Views

Child drowns in Art of Animation pool | New Frozen boutique to open in Disney's Hollywood Studios | New "Escape to Walt's Wilderness" experience debuts | Walt Disney World to host Invictus Games in 2016 | Man admits to 10-year "dine-and-dash" spree at Walt Disney World | Former Disney Cruise Lines employee sentenced for molestation | Did you catch these quick takes? | Views Around the World | Crowd Forecast

Child drowns in Art of Animation pool

A 3-year-old boy, visiting Walt Disney World with his family from New York, drowned in the the Art of Animation Resort pool last Tuesday after becoming separated from his parents sometime around 8:00 p.m. A short search ended when someone found the boy underwater in the pool.

Disney representative confirmed that lifeguards were on duty at the time of the incident, but gave no other details about the incident.

A story from WESH-TV quotes a Disney representative, who said, "[Disney is] deeply saddened by this tragedy," the representative said. "[Our] focus is to help the family during this very difficult time."

New Frozen boutique to open in Disney's Hollywood Studios

After weeks of reporting closures at Disney's Hollywood Studios, we finally have some news about something new coming to the theme park.

Beginning July 26, the Ice Palace Boutique opens its doors across from the ABC Commissary. The Frozen-themed salon offers visitors ages 3 to 12 a chance to transform into royalty for the day in the style of their favorite Arendelle character. The boutique is a limited-time location and remains open through September 7, 2015.

If this sounds similar to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, found in the Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney, then you're on the right track. Like the salon's predecessors, the Ice Place Boutique offers package deals, including a couple where families can participate as well by enjoying snacks and relax in the Ice Palace Cafe as they wait for their little one.

Packages include:

  • Frozen Summer Fun Boutique Package – includes Anna or Elsa-inspired shimmering makeup palette, face gems, nail polish, a braided hair piece with sparkling snowflake accessory, and an exclusive photo opportunity. Package retail: $75, includes tax.
  • Ice Palace Boutique Package – includes the items offered in the Frozen Summer Fun Boutique Package. It also includes access to the Ice Palace Café and reserved seating at one of the “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” shows. Package retail: $175, includes tax. Up to 6 guests allowed.
  • Ice Palace Boutique Deluxe Package – includes an Anna or Elsa costume plus the items offered in the Ice Palace Boutique Package. Package retail: $240, includes tax. Up to 6 guests allowed.

Anyone interested can now make reservations by calling (407) 827-7400. Spaces are limited, and are offered on a first-come-first-served basis.

New "Escape to Walt's Wilderness" experience debuts

Walt Disney World visitors looking for a different type of outdoor experience can now sign up for the new Escape to Walt's Wilderness experience.

The latest resort package includes a pontoon boat tour from Disney's Contemporary Resort with a Disney guide, who gives background on the land and waters Walt chose as his backdrop for his new resort. Wildlife guides then board the boat and point out some of the area's air, land, and water animals. Visitors can use binoculars for a close-up look at the creatures.

Next, Disney serves guests breakfast including cinnamon rolls, granola, citrus salad, frittatas, juice, and coffee. A marshmallow roast follows before tour participants take a horse-drawn wagon to an archery lesson at Disney's Fort Wilderness.

After the lesson, guests wrap up the day by heading to the Tri-Circle D Ranch to see Disney's horses up close.

A Disney Parks blogger said there are "a lot of surprises along the way" that will entertain and educate tour guests.

Disney usually offers this tour two days a week from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on select days. The cost is $109, plus tax for ages 7 and older. Complimentary transportation to and from the experience is provided for guests staying at Disney owned and operated resort hotels. To book or for more information, call (407) WDW-PLAY (407-934-7639).

Walt Disney World to host Invictus Games in 2016

Prince Harry of England will bring his Invictus Games to the ESPN Wide World of Sports in May 2016 according to a video announcement made last week:

Prince Harry of England announces Orlando as the host city for the 2016 Invictus Games. The ESPN Wide World of Sports complex will host the event from May 8-12, 2016. Credit: InvictusLondon.

The Invictus Games debuted in 2014 in England as an athletic competition inviting athletes who are injured servicemen and women to participate in a variety of sporting events—much like the Olympics. The first games brought more than 400 athletes from 13 countries to compete and more than 60,000 spectators to watch the 10-sport competition, which included archery, cycling, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, triathlon, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and wheelchair tennis.

The Invictus Games were developed as a way to not only inspire recovery in the athletes, but also help others better understand and respect those who serve their country, and those who support them at home (families, caregivers, and so on), according to the Disney Parks Blog.

Invictus is the Latin word for "unconquered" and certainly an appropriate word for these brave men and women.

Man admits to 10-year "dine-and-dash" spree at Walt Disney World

Orange County deputies arrested a possible homeless man accused of trying to leave The Wave restaurant at Disney's Contemporary Resort without paying his bill. Following his arrest, they learned this was not an isolated incident.

The suspect, identified as Jerry Moody (51), seems to have quite a fascination with Walt Disney World. Not only did his arrest report indicate that he tried to duck out on a $92.65 bill from The Wave on Tuesday night, July 14, he also did the same thing at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort the previous day.

However, last week's alleged illegal activity is not the accused's first time around the Disney block.

Orlando's WKMB Local 6 reported that Moody's admits to similar Disney dine-and-dash activities going back to 2005. Court documents outline dozens of arrests due to similar activity at numerous Walt Disney World restaurants and shops. His explanation for the crime spree: he "likes to come to Disney." Moody continued to get into these locations, despite being banned from Disney property.

Deputies charged Moody with defrauding an innkeeper and trespassing on property after a warning. They did not release a possible court appearance date.

Former Disney Cruise Lines employee sentenced for molestation

A judge sentenced a man accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl on a Disney Cruise Lines ship in April 2014 to nearly six years in prison following a plea deal accepted by the defendant.

Ahmed Sofyan (37) of Indonesia admitted to luring the girl into a cabin and touching her inappropriately after befriending her and her family during a four-day cruise on the Disney Dream.

Sofyan faced up to 20 years for lewd acts and false imprisonment of a child. Prosecutors asked the judge for a 10-year sentence, according to Orlando's News 13, but the judge instead sentenced Sofyan to 70 months in jail, followed by a likely deportation back to Indonesia.

Did you catch these quick takes?

  • Here's an update on Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend races registration: The half-marathon, 10K race and the Glass Slipper Challenge are already sold out. The 5K fun run is 85 percent full and the Disney Kids races stand at 90 percent full as of this update.
  • Disney announced eight people as the latest "Disney Legends" who will be awarded at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA next month. Among the eight people are George Lucas, actress Susan Lucci, and Disney animator Andreas Deja (who animated Gaston from Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King's Scar, among others).
  • Goodbye Hess, Hello Speedway. The well-known Hess gas stations around Walt Disney World Resort property transition to Speedway stations by the end of this week.
  • Have you heard about the latest Disney live-action movie project? The Hollywood Reporter published a story describing Genies, a live-action film about the origins of Arabian genies, including the one famously portrayed by Robin Williams in the Disney classic Aladdin. What do you think about all of these new live-action films? We've had Maleficent and Cinderella already. Also in the production mix include Beauty and the Beast, Dumbo, Mulan and even a Prince Charming story. Good ideas? Overkill?

Views from Around the World

I have only been home from Walt Disney World for less than two months and I'm already itching to get back. Fortunately, our photographer, Alan, does a fantastic job of capturing what's happening around the parks and resorts. It's almost like being there. This week, we take a virtual ride on Kilamanjaro Safari, see the debut of two new castle towers, see how France commemorated Bastille Day at Epcot's World Showcase and get a glimpse of the hollowed out remains of one of the original Pleasure Island venues.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

In Summer at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safari trucks enter a very lush African Savannah. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A group of giraffes is called a tower. That's just one of the many animal facts you may learn on Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Last week we brought you a photo of animatronic Indian elephants bathing on The Jungle Cruise at Magic Kingdom; this week we bring you actual African elephants bathing on Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A flamboyance of flamingoes is right next to the elephants' red clay pits habitat on Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

On Kilimanjaro Safari at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the male lion sleeps most of the day and night. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A couple of bachelor silver-back gorillas watch the guests as the guests watch them on the Pangani Forrest Exploration Trail at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Downtown Disney

Unfortunately, there is now a clear view into and through the former Adventurers Club building on Pleasure Island from Village Lake. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The island near Epcot's France pavilion is lit in the colors of the French Flag for Bastille Day (July 14) as the Frozen Fireworks at Disney's Hollywood Studios fill the sky above Epcot's World Showcase. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Monorail Yellow approaches Epcot over the parking lot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Magic Kingdom

Two of Cinderella Castle's newest turrets appear complete in the Central Plaza as the expansion of the hub area gets closer to completion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A closer view of one of Cinderella Castle's newest turrets, but hub construction still remains. 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


"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, July 21, 2015 9 / 10
Wednesday, July 22, 2015 8 / 10
Thursday, July 23, 2015 8 / 10
Friday, July 24, 2015 9 / 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.

Join Our Networks


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


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.



  • 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

Blizzard Beach

  • Entire park closed from October 25, 2015 through January 3, 2016 for refurbishment

Typhoon Lagoon

  • Entire park closed from January 3, 2016 through March 13, 2016 for reburbishment.


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


  • 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

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

Up to 35 percent off Disney's Polynesian Villas Studios

Disney Visa cardholders receive up to 35 percent off standard view studio room rates from July 5 through October 3, 2015. The room must be booked either directly through their travel agent or the Walt Disney World Resort.

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)


  • 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 Military Personnel

4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper Discount

Eligible Service Members can purchase 4-day Park Hopper passes for $177 until December 20, 2015

Tickets can be purchased through December 17, 2015.

No more than 12 Disney Military Promotional Tickets can be purchased by an Eligible Service Member.

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.



  1. By jcruise86

    THANK YOU for the excellent photos of the Animal Kingdom!

    I'm surprised they haven't completed that Magic Kingdom hub work more quickly. If only Admiral Joe Fowler were still around, or if Disney hired those who worked on and watched over Universal Orlando's speedy construction projects. I wouldn't be surprised if Disney's best and brightest were now concentrating on Shanghai, and if Walt Disney World quickly amazes us after Shanghai Disneyland opens.

    When I'm impatient with Disney construction, I try to remember that the mansion (really the exterior of the entrance building) for Disneyland's Haunted Mansion went up in 1963 and that grade school kids had to wait 6 years till it opened in 1969! Of course the '64 World's Fair; Mary Poppins; buying, financing and planning Walt Disney World; and Walt Disney's death in '66 are all pretty good excuses for how long the HM took to open, but imagine being 8 in 1963 and wondering when that cool-looking attraction will open and then waiting 6 years. Yikes!

    OK, I've made excuses for you, now finish that hub landscaping! Iger & Staggs, get in there and kick some ---. Too hot and humid? Hire night crews--you can afford it. Dazzled guests spend & promote more.

  2. By Pammer

    Except for the fact that Susan Lucci was on a long-running ABC soap (owned by Disney), how is she a Disney legend?

  3. Discuss this article on MousePad.