Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 30 - April 4, 2016

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for March 30 – April 4, 2016

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


News and Views

Not-So-Scary Halloween Party | Disney After Hours updated | Easter eggs on parade | Wine & Dine Half Marathon sells out | Views around the World | This and That | Crowd Forecast

Not-So-Scary Halloween Party – dates and costume policy

Vacation planners eagerly wait each year for Disney to release the dates for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and last week they were officially confirmed.

  • September – 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 29, 30
  • October – 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31

This year, Disney watchers have also been waiting to see how the company would modify the costume policy for adults attending the event in the wake of the new park rules put in place last year. The new rules banned visitors over age 14 from wearing costumes inside the park, and prohibited all guests from carrying toy weapons. runDisney shortly followed suit for their 2016 events, imposing a costume ban with slightly different guidelines.

According to the Disney Parks Blog,

"While costumed attire may be worn, guests ages 14 and older are strongly discouraged from wearing layered costumes or costume props that surround the entire body as they may be subject to additional security screening. Additionally, costumes may not contain any weapons that resemble or could easily be mistaken for an actual weapon."

The article goes on to refer readers to the costume guidelines on the Walt Disney World website, but that site just contains the "no costumes for adults" policy. We're hoping Disney will provide some additional clarification about the costume policy for this event.

We also note that Disney has yet to announce pricing or on-sale dates for this event.

Disney After Hours updated

After we published the Update last week, Disney officially announced the After Hours event we mentioned. The exclusive event will take place on seven Thursday nights this spring:

  • April: 14, 21, 28
  • May: 5, 8, 12, 19

Guests who purchase the ticket have access to the Magic Kingdom starting at 7:00 p.m., 3 or 4 hours (depending on date) earlier than the park's posted closing time. The "after hours" portion runs until 3 hours after the theme park closes to the public, so 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m. depending on date.

Reservations are now open. The cost is $149 per person (ages 3 and older), plus tax. The event includes select attractions and character experiences, along with ice cream novelties and bottled soft drinks from vending carts around the park.

Disney won't officially confirm the number of tickets to be sold each night, but CMs tell us it's about the capacity of Mickey's PhilharMagic (just under 500).

Reservations are available by calling (407) 827-7185. [Ask the automated system for "tickets," because this offering is not yet recognized the by voice response system]

Easter eggs on parade

Contributing photographer Alan Dalinka shares these photos of the 5th Annual Easter Egg display at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. The resort's bakery team crafted these hollow eggs from chocolate, and decorated them with edible ingredients. Each egg is up to 20 inches tall, and weighs as much as 12 pounds. The eggs will remain on display through April 4, so there's plenty of time to go see them if you're visiting Walt Disney World this week.

One of the Easter eggs is decorated in a simple yet elegant style which evokes Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Some of the Easter eggs celebrate "The Fox and the Hound," Mickey Mouse, and even BB-8. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Minnie Mouse is on the same Easter Egg as Mickey. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A classic moment from "Lady and the Tramp" is recreated on one of the Easter eggs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

This year's Disney-Pixar film "The Good Dinosaur" is represented on one of the Easter eggs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A scene from "Tangled" is depicted on one of the Easter eggs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Robin Hood is represented by one of the Easter eggs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Last year's Disney-Pixar film "Inside Out" is the theme of one of the fully three-dimensional diorama-type Easter eggs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney-Pixar's "Toy Story" movies and Stitch are each represented among this year's Easter Eggs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Wine & Dine Half Marathon sells out

After Disney announced major changes to the 2016 Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend format and schedule, the public outcry led us to question whether the event would sell out as quickly as other runDisney events.

As it happens, the race sold out even faster than many recent runDisney events. The new 10K event was the first to sell out after general registration opened Tuesday morning, lasting just over an hour. By 11:45 a.m., all events except the runDisney Kids Races were full.

If you weren't fast enough to register, you can still secure a spot through one of the official runDisney charity groups, or by booking a package through a travel provider. A list of both charity and travel partners are posted on the runDisney website.

If you registered for the event, come add your name to the Team MousePlanet race roster to connect with other runners and share training tips.

Views around the World

Contributing photographer Alan Dalinka shares some photos from around Walt Disney World.

Epcot

Though it could change, the rows of the Amaze section of Epcot's Parking lot (the eastern side or left of the tram lane when approaching Spaceship Earth from the lot) just beyond (north of) the parking for the disabled is usually the area now designated "Preferred Parking" and staffed by a Cast Member. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival flowers in the center display just inside the park's main gates are growing tall. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The mustard greens surrounding the topiaries of Donald Duck and his nephews have filled in after a month of growth. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Nearly a month into this year's Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, the crops surrounding the topiaries of Donald Duck and his nephews are maturing. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The floral display at the base of Spaceship Earth that faces World Showcase is growing tall. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

One of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival tee shirts features a scene inspired by the Disney animated classic "The Jungle Book." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The peppers of the "Fire Garden," perhaps coincidentally (or perhaps not), is located next to one of the designated smoking areas. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Many small gardens are displayed throughout the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, including the peppers display. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The flowers are in full bloom outside the Mexico pavilion's La Hacienda de San Ángel. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Stone and rock work are nearing completion in the Royal Sommerhaus extension of the Norway pavilion that will soon be home to meet and greets with characters from Disney's "Frozen." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The stone and rock work is nearing completion in the Royal Sommerhaus area immediately next to the Stave Church at the Norway pavilion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A topiary of a traditional Chinese dragon stands in the middle of the China pavilion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Magic Kingdom

When visiting Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, of course, there are great viewing locations from which to see Magic Kingdom's Wishes fireworks, complete with the soundtrack. This photo was taken on the outdoor deck of Narcoossee's. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

We're Hiring!

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This and That

...The construction walls near the Germany pavilion have been removed to reveal a new stage.

The construction walls near the Germany pavilion have been removed to reveal a new stage. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

...The opening date for Disney Springs Town Center is rumored to be May 16, with STK opening a week or so earlier.

…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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Save time and money at Walt Disney World. TouringPlans.com can help you avoid falling into the typical tourist 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. Our trip planning tools show you the least crowded park to visit every day, customized touring plans for visiting Disney’s best rides, honest restaurant reviews, how to save on Disney tickets, the best hotel rooms to ask for, and so much more.

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, March 29, 2016 10 / 10
Wednesday, March 30, 2016 10 / 10
Thursday, March 31, 2016 10 / 10
Friday, April 1, 2016 9 / 10
Saturday, April 2, 2016 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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Resort Events

Check here to see if a park event might fall during your next trip to the Walt Disney World Resort. If you know of any in-park events, official or unofficial, that should be listed here, please send us an e-mail (link).

2016 Resort events

  • Star Wars Experiences – December 1, 2015 – ???
  • 2016 Flower & Garden Festival – March 2 – May 30, 2016
  • Dapper Day at the Magic Kingdom (unofficial event) – Saturday, April 16, 2016. More information at the event website.
  • MouseAdventure Silly Symphonies (unofficial event) – Saturday, May 14. A puzzle hunt at Epcot and the Epcot Resorts. More information at the event website.
  • Gay Days at Walt Disney World (annual unofficial event) – June 2–5. More information on the event website. To whatever degree there are "organized" events, the schedule calls for attendees to visit the parks on these days:
    • Thursday, June 2 - Animal Kingdom
    • Friday, June 3 - Disney's Hollywood Studios
    • Saturday, June 4 - Magic Kingdom (the busiest day of the event)
    • Sunday, June 5 - Epcot
  • Night of Joy – September 9 & 10
  • 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival –September 14 through November 14, 2016.
  • Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic – dates to be announced.
  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween PartySeptember – 2, 8, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 23, 25, 29, 30; October – 2, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31
  • "Jersey Week" – November 6 – 13. Expect larger crowds this week as New Jersey students and families take advantage of a Fall Break created by their school's participation in the New Jersey Teachers Convention.
  • Dapper Day at Epcot (unofficial event) – Saturday, November 12, 2016. More information at the event website.
  • Holidays at Walt Disney World – dates to be announced.
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party – dates to be announced.
  • Holidays Around the World at Epcot – dates to be announced.
  • Candlelight Processional at Epcot – dates to be announced.

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.

2016

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.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex Events

Check here to see if a sporting competition might fall during your next trip to the Walt Disney World Resort. We don't list all events here, but focus on the larger sport and cheer events that might result in extra visitors to the theme parks, and make it harder to secure a hotel room. The All-Star and moderate resort hotels are often the home base for these larger events, so it's worth avoiding those properties if possible.

2016 ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex events


Merchandise Events

Date Event
March 2–April 3

Egg-stravaganza 2016

Egg-stravaganza returns for the fourth time March 2 through 27. A dozen oversized eggs decorated with images of Disney characters will be placed around the World Showcase lagoon. Egg hunters first purchase a special map and stickers to help locate these eggs, and then place the stickers in the corresponding spots on the map.

The maps are $5.95 plus tax (a $1 increase from 2015), and no discounts apply. Maps are sold at the following locations:

  • Pin Central
  • Port of Entry (Showcase Plaza)
  • Heritage Manor (The American Adventure)
  • World Traveler (International Gateway)

Once complete, participants return the map to a redemption location to claim their prize—one of six different two-inch-tall "eggs" featuring all-new character designs for the 2016 promotion. The redemption centers is located at the Point of Entry store in Epcot.

If you are only in it for the eggs, you don't need to complete the egg hunt to claim your prize—just buy your map at the redemption center and receive your egg. The eggs are awarded randomly, but you may be able to trade with other collectors to complete a set if that is your goal.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

2016

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed April 4 – July 15 for refurbishment.
  • Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse – closed July 7 – September 24 for refurbishment.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed August 15 – 21 for refurbishment.
  • "it's a small world" – closed August 22 – September 15 for refurbishment.

Epcot

2016

  • Soarin' – closed as of January 4, 2016. Reopens sometime in "summer of 2016" as Soarin' Around the World, with a new ride film.
  • Circle of Life – closed February 7 through April 2 for refurbishment.
  • Maelstrom – permanently closed for construction of Frozen Ever After attraction. New ride expected to open May, 2016.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

2016

  • Magic of Disney Animation – building permanently closed for future expansion. Part of the space has been converted to the Star Wars Launch Bay.
  • Pizza Planet restaurant – closed January 11 for refurbishment. Reopening date TBD.
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show – closes on April 3, 2016 to make way for the Star Wars Land expansion.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – closes on April 3, 2016 to make way for the Star Wars Land expansion.
  • Studio Catering Co. – closes on April 3, 2016 to make way for the Star Wars Land expansion.
  • Meet & Greet: Mike and Sulley at Streets of America – closes on April 3, 2016 to make way for the Star Wars Land expansion.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • None scheduled

Blizzard Beach

  • None scheduled

Typhoon Lagoon

  • None scheduled

Disney Springs

  • Fulton's Crab House – closes April, 2016 for refurbishment.
  • Planet Hollywood – closed January 1 – June 1, 2016 for refurbishment and transformation into a Planet Hollywood Observatory.
  • Disney Springs Bridge 4 and restrooms on Pleasure Island – temporarily closed for ongoing construction work.
  • Disney Springs Lots A-G – closed through August 1, 2016.
  • Disney Springs Lots H, I, J, and K (in Westside area) – closed until further notice for 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

  • Boardwalk Inn
    • Exterior painting and repair during daylight hours, through May 5, 2016
    • Flying Fish Cafe closed February 1 - September 30, 2016 for refurbishment.
    • Seashore Sweets – closes February 1 as part of the Flying Fish refurbishment.
  • Wilderness Lodge and Villas – Hidden Springs pool, resort beach, playground, and Recreation fire pit closed. No opening date provided, but the pool is expected to be closed through 2017. Expect construction-related closures and noise due to construction of the as-yet-unannounced Disney Vacation Club cabins.

Elsewhere

  • 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

Spring 2016 Family Time package

The Family Time package offers a 5-day/4-night Walt Disney World vacation package for a family of 4 for as low as $1,714. The package includes 5-day theme park tickets and a 4-night stay in standard rooms at Disney's All-Star Music Resort for as low as $1,714 for a family of 4. Book this offer through February 28, 2016 for stays most Sunday through Thursday nights February 22 through March 3, 2016 and April 3 through May 26, 2016.

Other great rates are also available for alternate lengths of stay and party sizes for stays most nights February 22 through June 11, 2016. Travel must be booked from December 28, 2015 – Feb. 28, 2016.

The Magic Your Way package offers up to 25 percent off on rooms for travel from April 14 to June 11 with a booking window from February 29 to March 31, 2016.

Find a full list of resorts and discounts on the Small World Vacations blog.

Memory Maker pre-arrival discount

Disney's PhotoPass service provides a discount on Disney Memory Maker pre-arrival packages. For $169 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 $149, a $20 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 Military Personnel

2016 Military Salute – 4-Day Military Promotional Ticket discount

Through December 16, 2016, active and retired U.S. military personnel (including active and retired members of the United States Coast Guard, National Guard and Reservists) or their spouses can purchase:

  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper Option for $196 each, plus tax
  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Water Park Fun and More Option for $196 each, plus tax
  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper and Water Park Fun and More Options for $230 each, plus tax.

Walt Disney World Resort tickets may be used January 3 through December 19, 2016, except that the tickets may not be used March 20 – 2016 April 1, 2016.

Active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase Disney Military Promotional Tickets for themselves and up to five additional family members or friends. No more than six Disney Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased by any eligible member of the U.S. military (or spouse) pursuant to this offer. All tickets and options are non-transferable and must be used by December 19, 2016.

2016 Military Salute – Hotel discount

Disney does not publish the actual discounted rates offered to service members under this program, and instead asks eligible U.S. military personnel to call 407-939-7830 to check pricing, availability and to make reservations. The website Military Disney Tips.com says the offer is 30-40%, based on room category.

The new offer is valid most nights from January 3 through December 19, 2016. Like the ticket offer, the hotel discounts are not valid March 20, 2016 through April 1, 2016.

Discounts for Florida Residents

None at this time.

Discounts for Canada Residents

None at this time.

Discounts for U.K. Residents

None at this time.


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