Walt Disney World Resort Update for August 18-24, 2015by Marie Rossiter, contributing writer
Update for August 18–24, 2015
Major Disney Hollywood Studios additions announced at D23 | More details released about Disney's Animal Kingdom expansion | Epcot's Soarin' to have international update | New Jungle Cruise-themed restaurant confirmed for Magic Kingdom | Views Around the World | Crowd Forecast
The 2015 D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA gave Disney's Hollywood Studios fans answers to some lingering questions about the future of the park when Disney officials announced two major park expansions: Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land.
The park, which has seen numerous closures and changes in recent months, has been the center of speculation among Disney parks fans for a while. Now, Disney is preparing two significant overhauls.
Star Wars Land
Two, new major attractions will be part of the new Star Wars Land, including one that allows riders to take control of the iconic Millenium Falcon and another attraction which promises to drop visitors in the middle of an an epic battle in the Star Wars universe.
2015 D23 Expo – Parks & Resorts Panel – Star Wars Land, Star Tours update and more: Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek and Imagineer Scott Trowbridge present concept art from Star Wars Land, just announced as expansion lands at Disneyland in California, and Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. Video © MousePlanet.
As Disney's largest single themed land expansion ever at 14 acres, the new Star Wars Land intends to "transport guests to a never-before- seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life," according to Disney CEO Bob Iger.
Disney officials announced the new Star Wars Land expansion coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios at the 2015 D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA. One attraction will include riding inside the Millennium Falcon, shown here in a Disney rendering. Image © Disney.
The two new major attractions aren't the only new things coming to the theme park:
- Star Tours – The Adventures Continue – Later this year, Star Tours will include a new adventure featuring locations and characters from the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, giving guests a new adventure in the Star Wars galaxy.
- Star Wars Launch Bay – This interactive experience will take guests into the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, including opportunities to visit with new and favorite Star Wars characters, special merchandise and food offerings. Star Wars Launch Bay will be located in the Animation Courtyard at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
- Jedi Training Academy — A favorite of younger fans is reimagined with a new experience that includes new characters and a new villain to battle from the popular Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels.
- Season of the Force – This new seasonal event, beginning early 2016, brings new experiences to to Disney's Hollywood Studios, where guests will close out weekend nights with a new fireworks spectacular set to the iconic score of the Star Wars movies.
No word on the status of the current Star Wars Weekends events or a completion date for this current project.
Toy Story Land
The reimagining of Disney's Hollywood Studios will take guests to infinity and beyond, allowing them to step into the world of Toy Story Land. This new 11-acre land will transport visitors into the adventurous outdoors of Andy's backyard. People will think they've been shrunk to the size of Woody and Buzz as they are surrounded by oversized toys that Andy has assembled using his vivid imagination.
Toy Story Land is one of two new expansions coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios, according to official Disney announcements from the 2015 D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA. In this rendering, we see an overhead shot of the land, which is set up as Andy's backyard filled with his toys. Image © Disney.
Using toys like building blocks, plastic buckets and shovels, and game board pieces, Andy has designed the perfect setting for this land, which will include two new attractions and one expanded favorite:
- Family-friendly roller coaster – All on the back of Slinky Dog, this coaster will zip and zoom, plunge and coast as it takes riders on a fun, toy-filled adventure throughout the new land.
- Alien saucers attraction – The famous little green aliens from the movie will take visitors around for a spin in their very own flying saucers. The music, lighting and sound effects add to the flurry of action, while "The Claw" looms over.
- Toy Story Mania! – Riders glide into the Toy Story Midway Games Play Set and take aim at 3D objects in a variety of fast-paced games, with an expansion that adds a third track to this popular attraction.
Just like Star Wars Land, Disney officials offered no definitive time table for Toy Story Land completion, although construction has been underway at Toy Story Mania! for a few months now.
Disney's Animal Kingdom prepares to make a big step into a night-time park, according to a variety of announcements from the 2015 D23 Expo last week.
First, the new "Avatarland" finally has an official name: Pandora – The World of AVATAR. Park visitors journey into the magnificent world of Pandora at this new AVATAR-themed land—a world that includes floating mountains, a bioluminescent forest ,and the winged creatures known as Banshees, giving guests a transformational experience with the newest attraction, AVATAR Flight of Passage. The flying experience will give guests a birds-eye view of the world of Pandora on an aerial rite of passage.
Beyond the Banshees, Disney's Animal Kingdom has more new experiences in store for visitors, including:
- "Rivers of Light" – Expected to open in the spring of 2016, "Rivers of Light" combines live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. "Rivers of Light" magically come to life on the natural stage of Discovery River
- Kilimanjaro Safaris – This popular attraction becomes new nighttime adventure in the spring of 2016.. Safari trekkers will travel through the African savanna amid the magically extended orange glow of the setting sun and discover two species new to the attraction: African wild dogs and hyenas.
Anyone who's been to Epcot recently (or sees our weekly newsletter photo section) knows about the construction cranes outside The Land pavilion. A third Soarin' room has been under construction for a few months, but last week, Disney officials finally confirmed what had been spreading around for some time: Soarin' is not only getting more room, but a timely, new subject.
Soarin' Over California will transition to Soarin' Around the World, where riders will glide over a variety of international natural and crafted wonders such as the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, and more.
Even more important, the new film was shot in high-quality digital film, which will make the attraction more clear and detailed than ever. Riders of the current Soarin' attraction have complained about the film and screen's condition, which some feel takes away from an otherwise fantastic ride.
Disney announced that the updated attraction will debut sometime in 2016.
The Magic Kingdom hopes that fans of the popular Jungle Cruise will want to continue their entertaining experience in a new restaurant : The Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen in Adventureland.
At the Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd Skipper Canteen, diners can enjoy “World Famous Jungle Cuisine” in one of several unique dining rooms, including a crew mess hall and a once-hidden secret meeting room of the famed Society of Explorers and Adventurers. The restaurant will also be staffed by Jungle Cruise Skippers.
The Jungle Skipper Canteen is currently under construction in the Magic Kingdom and is projected to open in late 2015.
Disney hopes to release reservation details and menu options sometime soon, according to the Disney Parks Blog.
The first Halloween themed items are now available at The Main Street Emporium at Magic Kingdom, with the first Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party scheduled for September 15, 2015. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
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- 2015 Night of Joy – September 11–12, 2015
- 2015 Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party – September 15, 18, 20, 22, 25 and 27; October 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29 and 31; November 1
- 2015 Epcot Food & Wine Festival – September 26 to November 16.
- 2015 Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party – November 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 29; December 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18.
- 2015 Epcot Candlelight Processional – November 27 to December 30
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.
- Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – November 6–7. All races are sold out.
- 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.
- Dream Along with Mickey – closed through August 22 for refurbishment
- Pirates of the Caribbean – closed through September 26 for refurbishment.
- Diamond Horseshoe –closed through at least November for refurbishment
- Liberty Tree Tavern – closed through November 21 for refurbishment
- Walt Disney World Frontierland station – closed September 29 to November 5 for refurbishment.
- Walt Disney World Main Street U.S.A station – closed September 29 to November 5 for refurbishment.
- Walt Disney World Fantasyland station – closed September 29 to November 5 for refurbishment.
- The Magic Behind the Our Steam Trains Guided Tour –not offered during Walt Disney World Railroad refurbishment.
- Peter Pan's Flight –closed November 2–7 for refurbishment.
- Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover – closed December 7–10 for refurbishment
- Splash Mountain – closed January 6–10 for refurbishment.
- Space Mountain – closed January 11–15 for refurbishment.
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin – closed January 15 to February 11 for refurbishment.
- Liberty Square Riverboat – closed January 18–22 for refurbishment.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed April 4 to July 15 for refurbishment.
- Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse – closed July 7 to September 24 for refurbishment.
- Liberty Square Riverboat – closed August 15–21 for refurbishment.
- “it's a small world” – closed August 22 to September 15 for refurbishment.
- 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. The Disney Visa character experience remains open.
- Maelstrom – ride permanently closed for construction of Frozen Ever After attraction. New ride expected to open May, 2016.
- Living with the Land –closed September 8–18.
- Innoventions East – Glidden's Colortopia under construction replacing the Test the Limits exhibit. Expected to open late 2015.
- 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 to November 13 for refurbishment.
- Pizzafari – closed August 24 to October 20 for refurbishment
- Entire park closed from October 25, 2015 through January 3, 2016 for refurbishment
- Entire park closed from January 3 to March 13 for reburbishment.
Downtown Disney / Disney Springs
- Fulton's Crab House – closed January 1 to April 1, 2016 for refurbishment.
- Planet Hollywood – closed January 1 to 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.
- Polynesian – ongoing refurbishment of the lobby and pool area.
- Disney's Boardwalk Inn – Exterior painting and repair during daylight hours, through 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 to 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.
- Disney's Lake Buene Vista Golf Course –closed August 10–20 for refurbishment.
- Disney Osprey Ridge Golf Course – permanently closed.
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:
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:
Disney's BoardWalk Inn and Villas:
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort:
Disney's Contemporary Resort:
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground:
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa:
Disney's Old Key West Resort:
Disney's Port Orleans Resort:
Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa:
Disney's Wilderness Lodge:
Disney's Yacht Club Resort:
Disney's Hollywood Studios:
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
Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Villas
Disney's Contemporary Resort
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts
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.