Walt Disney World Resort Update for January 10-16, 2017by Alan S. Dalinka, contributing writer
Writer's Note: This is Alan S. Dalinka as your fill-in Update writer for the final scheduled week. Thanks to all the folks that helped me get these published for you over the last few weeks -- particularly Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, Mark Goldhaber, Lani Teshima, Alex Stroup, Bonnie & Donald Fink, and Stephanie Wien. On with the Update....
Walt Disney World Marathon Week Meets Florida Winter Weather | New One-Day Magic Kingdom Dining Plans Coming January 12 | Keep Going on Your New Year's Resolutions | Views around the World | This and That | Crowd Forecast
This past weekend, for the first time ever, runDisney had to cancel a race. While races had been delayed and/or shortened in the past (notoriously, the "Flash and Dash" Wine & Dine Half Marathon in 2015, which was delayed and then shortened to about half of its official length due to lightning), Saturday's Walt Disney World Half Marathon and Kids Races preemptively were cancelled on Friday night when the forecast showed an elevated risk of lightning in the area of the racecourse.
Large stretches of the race course have no immediate access to shelter, and limited shelter is available at the race start area. The possibility that large numbers of people would be assembling outdoors in largely unsheltered areas without an easy way to evacuate them in the event of lightning strikes meant waiting until race time to see how the weather held was not a viable option for runDisney. On Friday night, runDisney issued the following announcement:
In an abundance of caution, the Walt Disney World Resort has cancelled all running events on Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 due to weather conditions. This includes the Walt Disney World Half Marathon and the runDisney Kids Races. In addition, the runDisney Health & Fitness Expo will delay opening until 11 a.m. While we share our Guests' obvious disappointment, the safety of our Guests and Cast is most important. Weather tracking has indicated there is an elevated risk of lightning in the area of the racecourse. In addition, there are sections of the course that do not provide immediate access to shelter. Both of these factors have influenced this difficult decision.
All registered half marathon runners will receive their half marathon medal and may choose from one of the following options:
- A full refund for their race registration in the form of a Disney gift card.
- Two One-Day Park Hopper tickets.
- Defer registration to another runDisney half marathon race in the U.S. within the next 24 months, subject to availability.
- We can offer limited availability to run the full marathon on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017 during the regularly scheduled race.
The first two options were available for redemption online rather than having to wait in line at the Race Expo, which opened late for the day. Children registered in runDisney Kids Races were also given medals and could get refunds in the form of Disney gift cards.
A number of runners took advantage of the option of trying to run the marathon, even though they had not trained for it, and many ran their first marathon without previously planning to do so. While disappointed, the runners were generally understanding of runDisney's need to cancel the race.
Some runners felt that it was not fair to receive their half marathon medal without "earning" it, so they set about running a half marathon around their resorts later Saturday, after the storm system had moved on. Reports had runners completing their 13.1 miles at just about every Disney resort, and some off property. Not only were runners out doing their miles, but many supporters were out cheering them, and unofficial water stops cropped up around the resorts. A cute "character photo stop" was located at Disney's Pop Century Resort near a water stop, as a child dressed in a Stitch costume posed for photos with runners. We also had reports of staff from the ESPN Grill at Disney's Boardwalk Resort and other Disney Cast Members helping to distribute water and/or Powerade.
Matt Marcella, of the unofficial "Team #runDisney" Facebook group, shot some video of the "Do It Yourself Half Marathons" at two Disney resorts. As the group is a closed Facebook group, we're unable to link to the original videos; however, with Matt's permission, we're sharing here some of the video posted from Facebook Live of runners and Disney's Pop Century and All Star Resorts. For higher definition video, longer clips, and additional clips, you can check out the "Team #runDisney" group on Facebook.
In the wake of the cancelation of the official Half Marathon, some runners held a "Do-It-Yourself Pop Century Resort Half Marathon." Video by Matt Marcella.
Other runners held a "Do-It-Yourself All Star Resorts Half Marathon." Video by Matt Marcella.
The 24th annual Walt Disney World Marathon was run on Sunday with wind-chill temperatures dropping to or below freezing. Nevertheless, more than 17,700 runners finished the race. Brazilian Fredison Costa (who lives in nearby Kissimmee, Florida), won his fourth Walt Disney World Marathon title in a row with a time of 2 hours, 23 minutes, 15 seconds. He finished more than seven minutes ahead of the second place finisher, Vanilson Neves, also of Brazil. Giovanna Martins of Salto, Brazil, won her second Walt Disney World Marathon title in three years with a time of 2 hours, 48 minutes, 5 seconds, more than three minutes ahead of second place finisher Kelsey Wiberley of Fenton, Michigan. The Orlando Sentinel provides a recap of the top 50 finishers in each division. Individual results can be searched on the runDisney website.
Disney has announced a new "Dine-on-the-Go" dining plan that will be available January 12 through February 22 at Magic Kingdom. Unlike the various dining plans that are open only to Walt Disney World Resort guests, the Dine-on-the-Go plan certificates may be purchased by all Magic Kingdom park-goers at the vacation Planning booths (often referred to as the ticket booths at the TTC). Valid park admission is required to utilize the certificates. Price is $29.00, and $12.00 for ages 3 to 9.
Each Dine-on-the-Go certificate includes one lunch quick-service entrée and one non-alcoholic beverage before 4 p.m., and one dinner quick-service entrée and one non-alcoholic beverage after 4 p.m. Dessert is not included.
Participating restaurant locations include Casey's Corner, Columbia Harbour House, Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe and Pinocchio Village Haus.
It is already that time of year when New Year's resolutions made in good faith as the last year wound down or the new year began first start to get put to the test. Commercial television is already full of advertising for diet plans, health clubs, and pretty much everything else that may possibly be related to your resolutions.
I just wanted to take a moment in this, the last of my scheduled fill-in assignments as writer of the Walt Disney World Resort Update, to encourage those of you with resolutions to get in better health in 2017 to keep going. Like many folks, I personally struggle with maintaining a healthy diet and weight. This past March, with the guidance of my physician and regular check-ups, I set upon a course of diet and exercise that resulted in my losing over 100 pounds by the end of the year. My resolution for 2017 and beyond is to keep going.
When Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix introduces my photos in weekly Updates by describing them as "Alan Dalinka's walks around Walt Disney World," she actually does mean that literally. With a 10,000 steps or more goal every day since back in March, I now walk five to ten miles (or more) just about every day. I estimate that at least a quarter of my steps most weeks are taken somewhere around Walt Disney World Resort—laps around World Showcase Lagoon at Epcot; the lengthy walk from the farthest reaches of Magic Kingdom's main parking lot to the TTC and sometimes all the way over to Disney's Grand Floridian Resort; from Disney Springs to Disney's Saratoga Springs or Old Key West Resorts; or around Disney's Animal Kingdom. The steps add up quite nicely.
Along with the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, my losing more than 100 pounds and about 12 inches around my waist in 2016 was something I did not really believe that I would see. But, using the Disney PhotoPass® service (included in my Platinum Florida Resident/DVC Member Annual Pass), I documented some of my journey. I hope my including my comparison photos here can serve to encourage any of you similarly struggling to overcome your self-doubt or at least know that you are not alone.
When Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix writes that the Updates contains photos from Alan Dalinka's "walks around Walt Disney World," she is being quite literal. Photos by Disney PhotoPass® (used with permission).
I took a few photos of that may be of interest from around Magic Kingdom and Epcot this week.
Stitch's Great Escape is again closed, with the busy holiday season now concluded. Whether the attraction will reopen (during another "busy" season or otherwise) is uncertain. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The current "purchase" with a "purchase" items available at Magic Kingdom are a "Snowman Tote" for $19.95 plus tax after any $25 merchandise purchase and/or a "Walt Disney World Throw" for $19.95 plus tax after any $40 merchandise purchase (see posted details). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Don't keep it to yourself!
…Walt Disney World has rolled out its 2017 Florida Residents ticket options: the Discovery Disney 3-Day Ticket for $139 plus tax and the Discovery Disney 4-Day Ticket for $159 plu tax. The special category ticket allows admission to one park per day from January 4 through June 9, 2017 (Disney's Animal Kingdom is blocked out from May 27 - June 9). Proof of Florida residency is required. More information is available on Disneyworld.com.
…The Disney Parks Blog reports that an elephant calf born at Disney's Animal Kingdom named Stella is now exploring the savanna at at Kilimanjaro Safaris. Stella raises the number of elephants in the Disney's Animal Kingdom herd to 10, including three males and six females.
Baby Stella stands with her mother Donna on the savanna of Kilimanjaro Safaris. The three-foot-tall newborn is the newest member of the elephant herd at Animal Kingdom. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.
…ABC-TV's "The View" announced that it will broadcast shows from Disney's Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World March 6th through 10th (11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. ET).
…Transportation delays between Magic Kingdom and the TTC/main parking lot seem to be becoming more frequent this winter. Between monorail testing relating to the on-going monorail automation project which is scheduled many weekdays between the morning and evening "rush" periods and more seemingly more-frequent breakdowns, it can take 45 minutes or more to go from a parking space to the main gate of the park. The recent reconfiguration of the sidewalks leading to and from the Ferryboat dock have added to pedestrian congestion in the narrow paths leading to the security bag check tables.
…The new Epcot International Festival of the Arts begins this weekend, on January 13. We will have expanded coverage of this new Festival next week. On Friday, January 13, be sure to keep an eye out for some "Live" broadcasts (or nearly live posts) from the Festival on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
…Be sure to check the Times Guides or the MyDisneyExperience App (or website) if you are interested in seeing the Canadian band Alberta Bound performing at The Mill Stage at Epcot's Canada pavilion. While, as we reported last week, Alberta Bound is scheduled to perform some dates this January, on other dates, Bodh'aktan, a Québécois band that performs music fusing elements of traditional Irish, Celtic, Québécois, Maritime and Breton with hard rock, country, polka and punk is scheduled to perform.
…If you think you have done everything at Walt Disney World, you might think again. One thing that our Donald Fink reminded me that has slipped my scrutiny is Dive Quest, at The Seas with Nemo and Friends. Dive Quest is a chance for certified Scuba divers to dive the park's 5.7 million gallon aquarium.
There are over 3,000 animls in the aquarium, including sea turtles, sting rays, sharks, and many others. Video from the comfort of the dining room at The Coral Reef Restaurant, by Donald Fink.
"Do more. Wait less."
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).
2017 Resort events
- Star Wars Experiences – Opened December 1, 2015
- Epcot International Festival of the Arts – January 13 through February 20, 2017
- Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – March 1 - May 29, 2017.
- MouseAdventure – Saturday, March 4, 2017
- Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – August 31 through November 13, 2017.
- Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic – Dates TBD
- Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party –Dates TBD
- Holidays at Walt Disney World –Dates TBD
- Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party–Dates TBD
- Holidays Around the World at Epcot –Dates TBD
- Candlelight Processional at Epcot –Dates TBD
If you participate in (or are considering signing up for) runDisney events, visit our Team MousePlanet forum on the MousePad discussion board, where you can join our community of health-minded readers and staff.
- Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 4–8, 2017. Registration is now open. Proof of time deadline has passed.
- Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 24–26, 2017. Registration is now open. Proof of time deadline has passed.
- Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side Weekend – April 20–23, 2017. Registration is now open. Proof of time must be submitted by January 17, 2017.
- Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – November 2–5, 2017. Registration opens January 17, 2017. Proof of time must be submitted by August 1, 2017.
- 25th Anniversary Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend – January 3–7, 2018. Registration opens February 14, 2017. Proof of time deadline TBD.
- 10th Anniversary Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend – February 22–25, 2017. Registration opens May 2, 2017. Proof of time deadline TBD.
- Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side Weekend – April 18–22, 2017. Registration opens May 23, 2017. Proof of time deadline TBD.
- Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend – TBD
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.
- Liberty Square Riverboat – closed January 3 – 12, 2017 for refurbishment.
- Walt Disney World Railroad – closed January 9 – March 2, 2017 for refurbishment.
- The Magic Behind our Steam Trains guided tour – closed January 9 – March 2, 2017 during the Walt Disney World Railroad refurbishment.
- The Hall of Presidents – closes January 17, 2017 to add an audio-animatronic figure of the 45th president of the United States. Expected to reopen July, 2017.
- Sum of All Thrills – closed permanently on September 14.
- Storm Struck – closed permanently on September 14.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
- Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure
- Studio Catering Co.
- Meet & Greet: Mike and Sulley at Streets of America
- Magic of Disney Animation
- The Writer's Stop
- Academy of Television Sciences Hall of Fame
Disney's Animal Kingdom
- Kali River Rapids – closed January 3 – February 13, 2017 for refurbishment.
- Closed December 24 – March 11, 2017 for seasonal refurbishment.
- Fulton's Crab House – closed for refurbishment. Scheduled to reopen in Early 2017 as Paddlefish
- Planet Hollywood – closed for refurbishment and transformation into Planet Hollywood Observatory to reopen soon.
- Disney Quest – scheduled to close sometime in 2017.
- 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.
- 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.
Travel Discounts for Everyone
All of these packages can also be booked through MousePlanet's partner travel agency Get Away Today.
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.
Travel Discounts for Annual Passholders
|None at this time. If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!|
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:
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:
ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex:
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
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 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. at the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot (enter near the jumping fountains near the exit to the Magic Eye Theater). 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.
Travel Discounts for Military Personnel
2017 Military Salute – 4-Day or 5-Day Military Promotional Ticket discount
Through December 19, 2017, 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:
Walt Disney World Resort tickets may be used January 1 through December 19, 2017, except that the tickets may not be used April 9–23, 2017.
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, 2017.
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 percent, based on room category.
Travel Discounts for Florida Residents
None at this time. If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!
Travel Discounts for Canada Residents
MousePlanet reader Scott S. alerted us to a new offer for Canadian residents. Canadian residents receive a 25% discount on 4-day or longer tickets purchased by February 28, 2017. The discounted rate for a 4-Day adult base ticket is $244.00 USD, compared to $325.00 USD when purchased at the gate. A 10-day adult base ticket is $300 USD, a savings of $100 from the main gate price.
This offer is only good for Canadian citizens with valid passport, or residents of Canada with valid proof of Canadian residency. The tickets are sold as an exchange certificate, and must be exchanged for park ticket upon arrival. There is no expiration date on the unused tickets, but once activated the tickets must be used within 14 days of first entry.
You can see the full details on the Walt Disney World website. Thanks Scott for the heads up!
If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!
Travel Discounts for U.K. Residents
MousePlanet reader Ben from the U.K. wrote to tell us about his recent booking of a 2017 Disney World holiday using a current promotion for U.K. residents. Ben reports:
If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!