Walt Disney World Resort Update for August 11-17, 2015

by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
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Update for August 11–17, 2015

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


News and Views

Major refurbishment update across Walt Disney World | Two Disney workers arrested for lewd conduct | Reservations open for Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood and Vine | Be Our Guest breakfast now permanent | Disney launches 'World's Best Grandparent' Contest | Did you catch these quick takes? | Views Around the World | Crowd Forecast

Major refurbishment update across Walt Disney World

In this update is major update to the Walt Disney World refurbishment schedule. We get questions about refurbishments quite often and try to stay on top of changes. We post changes once we confirm them from multiple sources. As always, the dates may change along the way, but you will see in the list below that the overarching theme at Walt Disney World for the time being continues to be "change."

If you have a trip coming up through mid-2016, you can get a preview of what rides, attractions and resorts will undergo refurbishment so you can prepare and make your arrangements accordingly. 

Two Disney workers arrested for lewd conduct

More reports about inappropriate behavior by Walt Disney World to share this week; fortunately, though, neither arrest was the result of on-property actions.

Police arrested four in Polk County, Florida, last week on lewd behavior charges from an undercover sting in the area. Of the four men arrested, two were confirmed by WKMG Local 6 to be Walt Disney World employees 

Ronald Osborne (67), a retired U.S. Postal Service worker and current part-time riverboat driver at Walt Disney World, allegedly exposed himself to an undercover officer at the Lake Fannie boat ramp.

During the same sting, Christopher Cox (41) allegedly touched an undercover detective against his will and faces battery charges.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said that all four men arrested in the undercover operation last week are permanently banned from all county parks.

Reservations open for Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine

More Walt Disney World holiday event news this week: reservations for a new holiday dining event Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine are now available.

The new holiday event has Minnie Mouse hosting a holiday dinner with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Santa Goofy. The meal dates run from November 7, 2015, through January 3, 2016. 

In addition to the meal and character meet-and-greets in a room decked out in its holiday finest, visitors at Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine receive VIP seat for Fantasmic, Disney Hollywood Studios' nighttime fireworks spectacular.

Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine is available for $52.99 per adult and $31.99 per child age 3 to 9 (plus tax and gratuity) for a limited time only. Park admission is required to participate and is not included with the meal price.

To make reservations, visit the event's official webpage or call (407) WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).

Be Our Guest breakfast now permanent

After a an almost five-month "test run," Disney announced that the Magic Kingdom's Be Our Guest restaurant will now serve breakfast on a permanent basis.

The menu offers a variety of items, from pastries and breads to meat, eggs, quiche, fresh fruit, and more. Adult entrees cost $19.99 and kids entrees cost $11.99.

Anyone wanting to make a reservation for October 4, 2015 and beyond can either visit the Be Our Guest reservation website or call (407) WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).

Disney launches 'World's Best Grandparent' Contest

Do you have an amazing grandparent or are you the grandparent to beat all grandparents?

Walt Disney World is looking for the "world's best grandparent" as part of its latest contest. So, what does the world's best grandparent win? The grand prize is an eight-day Walt Disney World vacation for up to six people, including:

  • Round trip airfare and airport transportation for six
  • A seven-night stay in a two-bedroom suite or villa at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel
  • Six eight-day Magic Your Way with Park Hopper and Water Parks fun and more options
  • Choice of any Disney PhotoPass Service products (a $300 value)
  • One welcome basket
  • One Disney Character Dining experience for six
  • VIP viewing for 1 Disney Theme Park parade or show for six
  • One Disney Signature Dining experience for 6six
  • An $800 Disney Gift Card

Entries are accepted through 11:59:59 p.m. August 28, and a winner will be notified on or about September 10. Visit the contest's official rules and regulations web page for terms and conditions.

Family members can nominate their favorite grandparent by visiting the official contest web page, submitting a short essay about the grandparent, along with a photo.

You have a year after this contest is over, until September 11, 2016, in which to book and complete your trip by.

Did you catch these quick takes?

  • Captain EO has returned to Epcot following two special sneak preview events for the Disney feature films Tomorrowland and Inside Out.
  • Two new retail locations made their debut in Downtown Disney/Disney Springs: Tea Traders Cafe and UNIQLO. The latter is a large clothing retailer from Japan, and this is its first store in the southeastern United States.
  • Under the "must watch" category: check out this robot that does sand portraits. Can you guess who the robot will draw before watching the video?
  • The Florida Cup returns to Walt Disney World for the second straight year—the soccer tournament runs January 9–12, 2016
  • Even Walt Disney World animators are getting in on the Cecil the Lion viral discussion/reaction train. Animator Aaron Blaise created a memorial drawing for the African lion illegally killed a few weeks ago by an American hunter.

Views from Around the World

This week, our photographer not only provided some usual updates on construction projects happening around Walt Disney World, but also dropped by for some Frozen Summer Fun at Disney's Hollywood Studios, enjoyed Epcot's "Illuminations: Reflections of Earth" and wished upon a star at the "Wishes Nighttime Spectacular" in the Magic Kingdom! Let's take a look!

Disney's Hollywood Studios


Hollywood Boulevard at Disney's Hollywood Studios bustles with activity as guests gather near the stage in front of the Chinese Theater for the dance party and Frozen fireworks. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


At Disney's Hollywood Studios, the sign of the recently renamed "The Hyperion Theater" is outlined in neon that compliments the building's Art Deco style. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


DJ Chill hosts the dance party at the stage in front of the Chinese Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios immediately before "Frozen" fireworks (scheduled through September 7). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The "Frozen" fireworks show fills the sky above Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Epcot


Monorail Silver passes the Imagination pavilion and the backstage construction crane at the site of the new theater being construction for Soarin' at Epcot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Concrete walls now rise above the construction barrier walls between Epcot's Mexico and Norway pavilions for the new "Frozen" attractions under construction at Epcot. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


A wee bit of construction walls now surround some of the landscape of Epcot's UK pavilion just beyond the Fish Shop near the path to the International Gateway. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The fireworks of Epcot's Illuminations: Reflections of Earth shine on the bricks of The American Adventure pavilion while the building's lights twinkle and its lasers and search lights glow over Epcot's World Showcase. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Park guests gather outside the restaurants at the Japan pavilion above the Mitsukoshi Department Store to enjoy Epcot's nightly presentation of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Magic Kingdom


Park guests really do get a chance to "wish upon a star" during Magic Kingdom's presentation of its "Wishes" fireworks display. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Magic Kingdom's Main Street USA is filled with guests and their glowing cameras for "Wishes" fireworks, but the view from the flag pole is no longer filled with (the now-banned) selfie sticks. 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, August 11, 2015 9 / 10
Wednesday, August 12, 2015 9 / 10
Thursday, August 13, 2015 9 / 10
Friday,August 14, 2015 8 / 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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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. All races are sold out, except for the full marathon.
  • Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 18–21, 2016. Most events are sold out.

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

2016

Epcot

  • Living with the Land - September 8–18.
  • Maelstrom – ride permanently closed for construction of Frozen Ever After attraction. New ride expected to open May, 2016. 
  • Soarin’ – additional screen under construction. Work has no impact on the existing theaters. 
  • Innoventions West – Think, presented by IBM; The Great Piggy Bank Adventure; and Where's the Fire? closed April 29, 2015. The Disney Visa character experience remains open. 
  • Innoventions East – Glidden's Colortopia under construction replacing the Test the Limits exhibit. Expected to open late 2015. 

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid – closed September 7–10 for refurbishment.
  • Toy Story Midway Mania – second ride track is under construction. Work has no impact on the existing ride. 
  • Magic of Disney Animation – building permanently closed for future expansion. 

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • Primeval Whirl – closed August 17 – November 13 for refurbishment. 
  • Pizzafari – closed August 24 – October 20 for refurbishment

 

Blizzard Beach

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

Typhoon Lagoon

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

Downtown Disney / Disney Springs

  • Fulton’s Crab House – closed January 1 – April 1, 2016 for refurbishment. 
  • Planet Hollywood – closed January 1 – June 1, 2016 for refurbishment and transformation into a Planet Hollywood Observatory. 
  • Downtown Disney Bridge 4 and restrooms on Pleasure Island – temporarily closed for ongoing construction work.
  • Downtown Disney Lots A-G – closed through August 1, 2016.
  • Downtown Disney Lots H, I, J, and K (in Westside area) – closed until further notice for Disney Springs construction.
  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
  • Disney Quest – scheduled to close sometime in 2016. Will be replaced with an NBA Experience venue. 

Resorts

  • Polynesian – ongoing refurbishment of the lobby and pool area.
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn – Exterior painting and repair during daylight hours, August 17, 2015 – May 5, 2016
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn – Flying Fish Cafe closed February 1 – September 30, 2016 for refurbishment. 
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs – La Vida Health Club and Casitas pool closed for refurbishment through October 12. An alternate fitness center is available for guest use. 
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa – Gasparilla Island Grill closed August 23 – September 4 for refurbishment. 
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Villas – construction of the as-yet-unannounced Disney Vacation Club cabins begins October, 2015. Expect construction-related closures and noise during the project. 
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and Villas – Hidden Springs pool, resort beach, playground, and Recreation fire pit close October 26, 2015. No opening date provided, but the pool is expected to be closed through 2017. 

Elsewhere

  • Disney's Lake Buene Vista Golf Course - closed August 10-20 for refurbishment.
  • Disney Osprey Ridge Golf Course – permanently closed.

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

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 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)

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 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.