Walt Disney World Resort Update for June 21-27, 2016

by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, staff writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for June 21–27, 2016

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


News and Views

Walt Disney World implements operational changes in wake of fatal alligator attack | Soarin' Around the World cleared for takeoff | Mickey's Royal Friendship Fair debuts at Magic Kingdom | Star Wars: Galactic Fireworks Spectacular | Epcot finally gets Frozen | Disney makes $1 million donation to the OneOrlando Fund; Pulse shooting victims honored at Magic Kingdom | 2017 Disney Dining Plan details | Bid on Disney media exclusives and support Team Muscle Makers | This and That | Crowd Forecast

Author's Note –

For the second time in as many weeks, this Update leads with coverage of a horrific event in Orlando. There is no place here for second-guessing or 20/20 hindsight. The death of a child is every parent's worst nightmare. Opinions will not change the facts.

Our role as media is to cover this tragedy in a way that informs our readers about what may be different as a result the next time they visit Walt Disney World. Our role as humans is to offer support to a grieving family, and to accept that pixie dust can't fix everything.

Walt Disney World implements operational changes in wake of fatal alligator attack

Disney is making changes throughout Walt Disney World following an alligator attack which claimed the life of a young boy last week. All Walt Disney World beaches remain closed as workers install new fencing and signs around the shores, and other operational changes are in effect.


A makeshift memorial of flowers and children's toys formed on a fire pit for Lane Graves, a 2-year-old boy killed by an alligator near Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Last Tuesday evening, 2-year-old Lane Graves was killed by an alligator on a beach near Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel. The boy was walking with his father along the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon when an alligator pulled him into the water.

Parents Matt and Melissa Graves, along with Lane and a 4-year-old daughter, were staying at the Grand Floridan Resort. The family was on the beach for a "Movies Under the Stars" event hosted by the hotel. Witnesses said the child was wading in the lagoon in about a foot of water when the attack occurred. The father tried unsuccessfully to rescue his son, and was injured in the attempt.

Authorities searched the artificial lagoon by land, water and air well into the next afternoon before locating the child's remains. During the search, five alligators were taken from the Seven Seas Lagoon. Officials do not yet know if they have trapped the alligator who dragged the child into the water, but said they would continue searching to ensure that they have the alligator involved.

Disney immediately ordered all beaches closed following the incident, and they remain closed at press time. At first Disney used temporary stanchions and even rows of beach chairs to block beach access, but by Friday had begun installing new permanent rope railings.


The beach at Disney's Grand Floridian is located next to the pool area. Temporary signs and stanchions are used to keep guests off the sand while workers installed new boundary markers and warning signs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Lounge chairs placed at the edge of the pool deck block access to the beach outside the Grand Floridian Hotel, and a new rope fence is installed along the shoreline. In the center of the photo, a cast member stands watch near a memorial set up on a fire pit located between the DVC Villas (in the distance in this photo) and the main lobby building. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


A new rope fence has been built along the entire beach front shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The extensive beaches of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort are now closed. A new rope fence now stands along the water's edge. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Bora Bora Bungalows at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort are still open, but the nearby beaches are closed and a new rope fence stands along the shoreline. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The beach at Disney's Beach Club Resort on Crescent Lake is closed. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


New signs note that the beach at Disney's Beach Club Resort is closed. Friendship boat service between the Epcot-area Resorts and Disney's Hollywood Studios operates normally. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Disney's Beach Club's movie nights have moved from the beach area to a lawn area. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

At the same time, the company added a new warning sign that specifically mentioned the risk of alligators and snakes in the area, and tells guests to stay out of the water. Prior to this incident, some of the Walt Disney World golf courses had signs that specifically cautioned about alligators, and the nearby Shades of Green hotel had signs advising that Florida is a natural wildlife habitat, warning guests not to feed or go near alligators.

While signs on the nearby Polynesian Resort beach stated that the beach was closed, and contained a caution against feeding the wildlife, signs posted on the Grand Floridan Hotel beach stated only "no swimming."

The signs installed over the weekend are the same at all properties, and include an illustration of an alligator and a snake along with a caution against feeding the wildlife.


The older warning signs varied by hotel property. This sign from the Polynesian Resort states that the beach is closed, and also cautions against feeding wildlife. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Newly posted signs warn against the dangers posed by alligators and snakes along the shore of the Seven Seas Lagoon. The older signs prohibiting swimming and feeding wildlife stand beyond the new rope fence. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Future "Movies Under the Stars" events at the Grand Floridian will now take place indoors. Other resort hotels that offered the evening beach gatherings may move their movies indoors, or to available lawns away from the water.


Disney's Beach Club's movie nights have moved from the beach area to a lawn area. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

All passenger watercraft are again operating at Walt Disney World, including the ferries that cross the Seven Seas Lagoon between the Transportation and Ticketing Center and the Magic Kingdom. along with the smaller boats that service the Grand Floridian Hotel and the Polynesian Resort. Friendship boat service between the Epcot-area Resorts and Disney's Hollywood Studios is unaffected.


Regular passenger boats continue to transport guests between Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Magic Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Marinas located at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort on the Seven Seas Lagoon, as well as Disney's Contemporary Resort on the connected Bay Lake make several types of rental watercraft available for guest use on the Lagoon and Lake. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Rentals of the Sea Raycer individual (or 2-person) watercraft has been suspended indefinitely at all of the marinas at Walt Disney World. At the marina at Disney's Polynesian Village, pontoon boats and other charters were still available as of this past weekend, and passenger vessels to the Magic Kingdom were operating as normal. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Pontoon boat charters at the marina at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort remained available over the weekend, while the individual-sized Sea Raycer watercraft rentals are suspended indefinitely. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


While not directly connected to Seven Seas Lagoon or Bay Lake, Bayside Marina located at Disney's Yacht Club on Crescent Lake also suspended Sea Raycer rentals. Pontoon charters, including the Illuminations Fireworks Cruises continued over the weekend. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Bayside Marina on Crescent Lake at Disney's Yacht Club has various watercraft rental opportunities for guests. As of this past weekend, while individual-style Sea Raycer watercraft rentals had been suspended, other charters remained available. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney at first closed all of the rental marinas following the incident, but has allowed them to reopen with some changes. Visitors can once again rent a 17' Boston Whaler or 21' Sun Tracker, or enjoy specialty cruises during fireworks or Illuminations. Sea Raycers are in dry dock until further notice, and cast members speculate the jet ski-like craft are now part of Disney history.

Guided bass fishing excursions are still offered, but the 7:00 a.m. departure has been pushed back to 9:00 a.m. each morning.

The incident also prompted some changes inside the theme parks. Jungle Cruise cast members have removed alligator and crocodile references from their spiel. Drivers on Disney's Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom have also been instructed not to make any jokes about the crocodiles, or imply that passengers are in any danger as the vehicle passes their exhibit.

The alligators – animatronic and real – are still in place at the Living with the Land attraction in Epcot.


On the Living with the Land boat ride, the animatronic alligators were still in place this past weekend. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


In the red room of the greenhouse on the Living with the Land boat ride, the American Alligators were still on display this past weekend. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Tic Toc crocodile satellite float was removed from the Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom, and we do not know how long that change will be in effect. Missing also was Louie the Alligator from Friday's debut of the new Mickey's Friendship Faire show at the Magic Kingdom. The character appeared in concept art for the show, but was reportedly pulled due to the incident.


Disney-provided concept art for Mickey's Friendship Faire shows Louie in the Princess and the Frog sequence, but the alligator character was missing from the show during last week's debut. Photo © Disney.

As news of the attack spread, some Disney visitors came forward with reports of their own close-encounters with Florida's official; state reptile. A widely-circulated video showed a cast member trying to nudge an alligator away from the Splash Mountain ride flume. Our own Donald and Bonnie Fink spotted a small alligator at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort earlier this year, noting that hotel guests had been feeding the creature.

Last week's tragedy was not the first alligator attack on Disney property, as was stated during a news conference. In 1986, then 8-year-old Paul Santamaria was attacked by an alligator during a family vacation to Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort. Santamaria was injured, but survived.


With the tragedy at the beach along the Seven Seas Lagoon at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, we take a look at the changes to the beaches and other water recreation areas. As the map shows, the Grand Floridian's beach area is actually rather small. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Disney's Polynesian Village Resort as a much larger stretch of beach along the Seven Seas Lagoon, as well as 20 bungalows built over the water. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Soarin' Around the World cleared for takeoff

Let's get right to the important details—Patrick is still the chief flight attendant for the updated Soarin' attraction, providing both the preshow safety video, as well as the safety announcements once you're inside the ride.


Patrick remains as the chief flight attendant for Soarin' and presents the safety and boarding information largely unchanged from the original version. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

It seems the actor Patrick Warburton didn't even know that his role had been kept, tweeting the following late Wednesday night:

The actor followed up the next day:

So yes, the original safety video is still used, "these little beauties" must still be stowed, and Patrick still gives a big thumbs-up to a young boy who is now 16 years older. As for the rest... well, we really don't want to give too much away about the new movie yet, since we know you may want to avoid spoilers before you get to see it.


With the opening of the new ride film this past weekend, the signage for Soarin' inside The Land pavilion was updated as well. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka

Soarin' Around the World first debuted with the grand opening of Shanghai Disney Park in China Wednesday, and then opened Friday in Orlando and California. Each of the three parks has a unique ending to their version of the film, as well as a slightly different introduction montage in the waiting area.

The ride also has an updated musical score that is a new composition by Bruce Broughton that is based on the original theme by the late Jerry Goldsmith.

Mickey's Royal Friendship Fair debuts at Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom debuted a new castle stage show last week, replacing the long-running "Dream Along with Mickey". The new show features Mickey and friends, along with the contemporary Disney princesses. (Read: the ones introduced since 2009, with the exception of Merida).


Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire is now playing on the Cinderella Castle stage at Magic Kingdom. HDR Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The show includes sections from The Princess and the Frog, Tangled and Frozen., with the princesses appearing with their male counterpart, and interacting with one of Mickey's friends. As noted above, Louis the trumpet-playing alligator from The Princess and the Frog did not appear in the show this weekend, despite having been featured in concept art of the show. We do not know if this is a permanent change, or if the character will rejoin the show at a later time.

The new show is presented on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt stage, with 6 performances scheduled on peak days.


From Disney's The Princess and the Frog, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen dance with Goofy in the new Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire show. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


From Disney's Tangled, Rapunzel, Flynn Rider and some of the customers of the Snuggly Duckling appear with Daisy Duck (and, not shown here, Donald Duck) in the new Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire show. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Frozen's Queen Elsa, Princess Anna and Olaf appear in the new Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire show. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Star Wars: Galactic Fireworks Spectacular

There's one thing you need to know about the new Star Wars fireworks show at Disney's Hollywood Studios: location matters. Our Alan Dalinka calls this possibly the best Disney fireworks spectacular he's ever seen, but that was only after he watched the show from center stage on Sunday night. He wasn't so sure Friday night, when he watched the show from Epcot's World Showcase following the Illuminations show.

In terms of airborne effects, this show can't compete with explosion-heavy shows, but to compare them is to miss the point. The new spectacular is all about the screens, with the pyrotechnics used sparingly but to great effect.

If you're a real fan of Star Wars, it may be worth it to you to splurge on the Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party. The $69 price tag is about as hard to take as a Kylo Ren temper tantrum, but you can save yourself the stress (and heat stroke) of having to camp out for the best position.


Images simulating the original Chinese Theater's marquees at the 1977 debut of Star Wars are projected on Disney's Hollywood Studios' version of the Chinese Theater at the beginning of the new Star Wars: A Galactic Fireworks Spectacular. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The projections in the new Star Wars: A Galactic Fireworks Spectacular are among the clearest images in any of Walt Disney World's nighttime spectaculars. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


In addition to projected images, the new Star Wars: A Galactic Fireworks Spectacular uses lasers to punctuate the action. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Dark Side and Light Side from all seven of the Star Wars movies are represented in Star Wars: A Galactic Fireworks Spectacular. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Some of the fireworks in the new show are launched from the new facility constructed across World Drive from the park and, from the Center Stage area, appear to the right side of the Chinese Theater. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


One of the new projection surfaces for the new Star Wars: Galactic Fireworks Spectacular is near the exit of The Great Movie Ride (seen here). Another stands on the other side of the Chinese Theater, between One Man's Dream and The Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The recently completed tower closest to the Animation Courtyard studio archway gate serves as a control center and projection tower for the new Star Wars: A Galactic Fireworks Spectacular. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


While some of the fireworks used in the new Star Wars: A Galactic Fireworks Spectacular can be seen from along Epcot's World Showcase Lagoon, it is a "spectacular" best viewed from the Center Stage area of Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Epcot finally gets Frozen


The new "Frozen Ever After" attraction remained behind construction walls ahead of its June 21 scheduled opening. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The new Frozen Ever After attraction officially opens today in Epcot, but the Royal Sommerhus had a soft-opening last week. Frozen fans can meet Anna and Elsa in their new venue, and then shop for Frozen souvenirs at the Wandering Reindeer on their way out.


The new Royal Sommerhus meet and greet area for Frozen's Queen Elsa and Princess Anna had a soft opening this past weekend ahead of its official June 21 scheduled debut. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Wandering Reindeer also had a soft opening the past weekend. It is the souvenir shop that serves as the exit of the Royal Sommerhus. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Wandering Reindeer shop sells "Frozen" themed merchandise including, of course, Elsa and Anna costumes and accessories for kids as well as plush toys. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

With the media event canceled due to the recent tragedies in Orlando, and no previews or soft openings of the ride, fans won't get their first official look at the attraction until 9:00 a.m. this morning. However, we do have some operational notes to share.

La Cantina de San Angel in the Mexico pavilion will open at 9:00 a.m. each morning to offer breakfast to hungry Frozen fans before the rest of the World Showcase opens at 11:00 a.m.. The breakfast menu features chilaquiles, tamal verde, and a Mexican breakfast sandwich of eggs, chorizo, cheese and guacamole.

The Gran Fiesta Tour will also open at 9:00 a.m. along with Frozen Ever After, providing visitors with something else to occupy their time while waiting for their FastPass return time.

Disney makes $1 million donation to the OneOrlando Fund; Pulse shooting victims honored at Magic Kingdom

After we published last week's Update, the Walt Disney Company announced a $1 million donation to the OneOrlando fund, and also committed to match donations made by Disney employees. Thomas Smith, Editorial Content Director, Disney Parks, released the following statement regarding the pledge:

Today, the Walt Disney Company is announcing a $1 million cash commitment to the OneOrlando Fund, established by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to assist those affected by the tragic events in Orlando. Also, eligible donations from Disney employees will be matched dollar for dollar by Disney Employee Matching Gifts: A Program of The Walt Disney Company Foundation.

“We are heartbroken by this tragedy and hope our commitment will help those in the community affected by this senseless act,” said Bob Chapek, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “With 74,000 Cast Members who call Orlando home, we mourn the loss of the victims and offer our condolences to their families, friends and loved ones.”

OneOrlando Fund will provide funds and other services to individuals affected by the tragedy. The website for the new fund is www.oneorlando.org.

Walt Disney World Resort has also been working in coordination with other Central Florida agencies and leaders to provide support to those in need. In coordination with OneBlood, cast members and other employees working at Walt Disney World Resort wishing to donate blood to help victims may donate at five designated locations across the resort property.

Through an effort led by the City of Orlando and the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, Walt Disney World Resort is also providing complimentary accommodations for the families and friends of the victims.

Our hearts are with everyone impacted by this horrific event.

Disney also canceled media events scheduled around the return of the updated Soarin' attraction, and the grand opening of the new Frozen ride, citing "sensitivity for the events that happened in Orlando on Sunday." In fact, our Alan Dalinka notes that Walt Disney World's social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have been mostly dormant since June 11, with the most recent posts focusing only on the opening of the new Disney resort in Shanghai .

On Saturday night, Disney allowed an unofficial vigil to take place inside the Magic Kingdom at park closing, during the "Kiss Good Night" segment. Hundreds of visitors gathered in front of Cinderella Castle to pay tribute to the victims of the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

While not organized or authorized by Disney, the company did not make an effort to discourage or prevent the observance. In fact. off-duty cast members were allowed to attend the moment in costume if they wanted. As the guests made their way out of the Magic Kingdom following the "Kiss Good Night," cast members passed out stacks of rainbow-colored Mickey Mouse pins.

One current and one former Walt Disney World employee are among the 49 people killed in the nightclub attack.

2017 Disney Dining Plan details

Disney has made a few changes to the Dining Plan for 2017, and vacation planners can book the new packages starting today for stays beginning January 1, 2017. Here are the highlights:

  • Character meals are now 1 Table Service credit, with the exception of Cinderella's Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom. and Mickey's Backyard BBQ at Fort Wilderness.
  • Dessert is no longer included in a Counter Service Meal. Depending on how much you liked mini carrot cakes, this may or may not be a disappointment to you.
  • The Quick Service Dining Plan now includes two snacks per day, instead of one. In the end, you lose two desserts (one from each of the two meals in the daily entitlement), but you gain an extra snack.
  • There is no change to the allocations of the basic Disney Dining Plan, which means you lose one dessert from the Counter Service Meal each day. The Table Service Meal still includes dessert.
  • There is no change to the allocations of the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan. This plan still includes three meals per day – Counter Service or Table Service – so you lose dessert whenever you opt for a Counter Service meal.

Bid on Disney media exclusives and support Team Muscle Makers

MousePlanet's practice has long been to accept promotional items and swag bags offered at media events, and sell the items at auction to benefit children's charities. We received quite a few items earlier this year during the Awaken Summer media event at Walt Disney World, and are pleased to offer them now via the eBay for Charity program.

100% of the money raised from the sale of these items will benefit Team Muscle Makers for UCMD, a runDisney charity partner founded by MousePlanet readers Melissa Mayorgas and Lonna Eshelman.

All auctions close Sunday. June 26. Happy bidding, and thank you for your support.


Disney Springs Media Gifts, with items from Uniqlo, Vera Bradley, Frozen Sven, Sprinkles Cupcakes and More

This assortment was given to members of the media invited to preview Disney Springs, the new shopping, dining and entertainment complex at  Walt Disney World. The lot contains a printed Disney Springs canvas tote bag ; $10 gift card from Sprinkles Cupcakes ; small cosmetic bag from Vera Bradley; Disney Project Mickey Mouse t-shirt in pouch from UNIQLO. Adult XL; 18" Sven plush from the World of Disney; sticky note set from the Trophy Room; wooden surfboard bottle opener from Tommy Bahama; Sperry Topsider keychain from Sperry and a monkey keychain. Click here to bid.


Disney Destination Media Gift, with items from Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, Disney Aulani and Ama Waterways

This collection was given to members of the media invited to a presentation by Disney Destinations. The lot includes a printed Adventures by Disney canvas tote bag; embroidered Disney Cruise Line fleece blanket; travel document pouch from Ama Waterways; and a note pad and pen from Aulani. Click here to bid.


Disney Digital Media Gift Set with Mickey Mouse Laptop Case and Accessory Bag

This set of neoprene tech bags were given to online media covering Walt Disney World press events. Click here to bid.

Don Ducky Williams "Mickey and Pals Get the Scoops" Media Exclusive Limited Edition Lithograph with COA

This lithograph was commissioned for media covering Walt Disney World. It features Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Huey, Dewey and Louie as reporters getting a "scoop" from Daisy Duck in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. It was never sold at retail, and would be a perfect addition to any Don "Ducky" William collection. Click here to bid.

We're Hiring!

Do you love Disney and have a flair for writing? We're currently looking for columnists to cover new areas of the Disney universe for MousePlanet.com.

If you are interesting in adding your voice to MousePlanet, please contact us—we'd love to hear from you!

This and That


The new colorful exterior paint scheme on Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress now appears on several sections of the revolving theater building. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The new exterior paint scheme on Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress is still a work in progress. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

...In answer to a question raised by a reader of a previous Update, Alan visited Animal Kingdom and confirmed that the pedestrian bridge between Expedition Everest and the Theater in the Wild is available for guests to watch the new "Jungle Book: Alive with Magic" show.


Cast Members lay down masking tape on the bridge over the Discovery River between Expedition Everest and the Theater in the Wild to mark a first-come, first-served overflow viewing area for nightly showings of The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

...Open Table notified guests who had used the service to make reservations for the new Frontera Cocina for this coming week that their reservation could not be honored. It appears the restaurant's new opening date – at least according to the update from Open Table – is Thursday, July 21. The restaurant's website still shows only "Opening Summer 2016"

...The 2016 Sounds Like Summer concert series continues this week with Rumours – A Fleetwood Mac Tribute Band. Show times are 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. each day through June 24. Simply Tina – A Tribute to Tina Turner continues the series from June 25 through July 1.

…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 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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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, June 21, 2016 9 / 10
Wednesday, June 22, 2016 9 / 10
Thursday, June 23, 2016 8 / 10
Friday, June 24, 2016 7 / 10
Saturday, June 25, 2016 6 / 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!

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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 – Opened December 1, 2015
  • Night of Joy – September 9 & 10
  • 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival –September 14 – 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 PartyNovember 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27, 29; December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 22
  • 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

2017

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.

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex events

2016

2017

  • Pro Bowl week festivities – take place the week prior to the 2017 game on January 29. Additional schedule information to be released.

Merchandise Events

Date Event
June 24

Epcot

June 25

Epcot

June 26

Epcot

June 29–July 5

Disney Springs

July 7–8

Epcot


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

2016

  • Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse – closed July 7 – September 24 for refurbishment.
  • Carousel of Progress – closed for refurbishment July 25 – 28.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed August 8 – November 18 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

  • None scheduled

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.
  • One Man's Dream theater – an expanded sneak peek at Alice Through the Looking Glass began May 6.
  • Pizza Planet restaurant – closed for refurbishment. Reopening date TBD.
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show – permanently closed to make way for the Star Wars Land expansion.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – permanently closed to make way for the Star Wars Land expansion.
  • Studio Catering Co. – closed to make way for the Star Wars Land expansion.
  • Meet & Greet: Mike and Sulley at Streets of America – closed to make way for the Star Wars Land expansion.
  • One Man's Dream theater – closed July 16–19 for refurbishment.
  • MuppetVision 3*D – closed August 15–22 for refurbishment.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • Dinosaur – closed for refurbishment July 25 – October 16.

Blizzard Beach

  • None scheduled

Typhoon Lagoon

  • None scheduled

Disney Springs

  • Fulton's Crab House – closed for refurbishment. Scheduled to reopen in Fall 2016 as Paddlefish
  • Planet Hollywood – closed for refurbishment and transformation into a Planet Hollywood Observatory.
  • Disney Quest – scheduled to close sometime in 2016.

Resorts

  • Boardwalk Inn
    • Flying Fish Cafe closed through September 30 for refurbishment. Will reopen simply as "Flying Fish."
    • Seashore Sweets – closed permanently. Will reopen as the "AbracadaBar" later this year.
  • 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

Thanks to Sue Pisaturo from Small World Vacations for the details. All of these packages can also be booked through MousePlanet's partner travel agency Get Away Today.

Fall Free Dining offer

Receive a free Dining Plan when you book a regular-price 5-night/6-day vacation package. Your package must include a room at a participating Walt Disney World Resort hotel, and a Magic Your Way ticket with either the Park Hopper and/or the Water Park Fun & More Option.

This offer is available for arrivals most nights Aug. 23–Oct. 1, 2016, Nov. 15–21, 26–28 and Dec. 10–21, 2016. You must book by July 8, 2016 to receive this offer.

If you book a Disney Moderate Resort, Disney Deluxe Resort, or Disney Deluxe Villa Resort, your package will include the Disney Dining Plan. If you book at a participating Disney Value Resort, the package includes the Quick-Service Dining Plan.

The offer excludes the following hotels and room types:

Campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney's Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms, the Bungalows at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's All-Star Movies Resort and Disney's Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

Disney's Port Orleans – Riverside is excluded during the following dates: November 15–21, 26–28 and December 10–21, 2016.

If you don't need theme park tickets or aren't interested in the dining package, consider one of the two room-only offers.

Back to School room-only offer

Save 20–30% off the published rate for stays August 1 through November 5, 2016. This offer as no length-of-stay requirement, which makes it ideal for a quick getaway if your dates are available.

  • Save up to 30% off Disney Deluxe Resort or Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts
  • Save up to 25% off Disney Moderate Resorts
  • Save up to 20% off Disney Value Resorts

The offer excludes the following hotels and room types:

Campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney's Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms, the Bungalows at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's All-Star Movies Resort and Disney's Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

You must book by August 31, 2016.

Kid-sized Vacation offer

This package is a variation of the Back to School offer, but includes park tickets. The sample offer advertises a 2-day/3-night stay in a standard room at a select Disney's All-Star Resort, with one park per day Magic Your Way base tickets for $998 for a family of 3.

Valid for arrivals most nights August 1 – November 5, 2016. As with the Back to School offer, you must book by August 31, 2016 and the following room types are excluded:

Campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney's Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms, the Bungalows at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's All-Star Movies Resort and Disney's Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

Late Summer Family Time offer

Another variant of the Back to School offer, this package is targeted towards families with older children. The sample package is based on two adults, a teen and a 'tween, and includes a 4-day/4-night stay in a standard room at a select Disney's All-Star Resort with one park per day Magic Your Way base tickets for $1,850.

Valid for arrivals most nights August 1 – November 5, 2016. As with the Back to School offer, you must book by August 31, 2016 and the following room types are excluded:

Campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney's Art of Animation Resort—The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms, the Bungalows at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, The Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's All-Star Movies Resort and Disney's Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter.

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 Tour
    • Behind the Seeds
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park
    • Backstage Tales
  • Multiple Theme Parks and Backstage Areas
    • Ultimate Day of Thrills VIP Tour
    • Ultimate Day for Young Families VIP Tour
    • Ultimate Day at Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
    • Backstage Magic
    • Disney's Holiday D-Lights (offered seasonally)
    • Disney's Yuletide Fantasy (offered seasonally)
    • Wilderness Back Trail Adventure

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
  • Narcoossee's

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
  • Cape May Cafe

Disney's Hollywood Studios:

  • The Hollywood Brown Derby (see restrictions)
  • Hollywood & Vine (see restrictions)

Epcot:

  • Biergarten Restaurant (see restrictions)
  • Coral Reef (lunch only)
  • Le Cellier (lunch only)
  • Rose & Crown Dining Room (lunch only)

ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex:

  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill

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 most days 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 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 character photo download per day.


Star Wars meet and greet at Disney's Hollywood Studios' Star Wars Launch Bay

Present your Disney's Premier Visa Card or Disney Rewards Visa Card for access to a character meet and greet at Star Wars Launch Bay for the cardholder and up to five guests. The event is hosted daily from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. inside Star Wars Launch Bay at Disney's Hollywood Studios. You'll receive one free character photo download 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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