Walt Disney World Resort Update for May 17-22, 2017

by Alan S. Dalinka, contributing writer
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Walt Disney World Resort Update for May 17–23, 2017

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Writer's note: Aloha, readers! I'm back—from Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii (as well as several other places, since I was already so far from home)—and, just in time for an off-world adventure (Annual Passholder preview) of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom. I will tell you more about my Hawaiian adventures in an upcoming article, but in the meantime, thanks again to Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, Bonnie & Donald Fink, and the rest of the MousePlanet crew for welcoming me back and keeping you informed while I was away. They even agreed to delay the Update until today so that I could get over to Magic Kingdom on Monday night for my first viewing of Happily Ever After, the new nighttime fireworks spectacular at Magic Kingdom. So, obviously, I will start with that new stuff here at Walt Disney World, will turn to the news, share a few more Views of and around Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and, with help from Donald Fink, from Disney Springs, One Passholder's Tip, This and That, and more.


Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa is located on the Island of Oahu, in Ko Olina, Hawaii, about a twenty minute drive (traffic permitting) from Honolulu International Airport. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


News and Views

"Happily Ever After" Fireworks: Now Performed Nightly | Pandora-The World of Avatar Previews Continue | More Updates Arrive in My Disney Experience App | Holiday Party Tickets Now On Sale | More Details about Disney's Night of Joy 2017 | | Views around the World | One Passholder's Tip | This and That | Crowd Forecast

"Happily Ever After" Fireworks: Now Performed Nightly

As Adrienne reported last week, after nearly 14 years as the signature fireworks show of the Walt Disney World Resort, "Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams" glowed away with a final performance on May 11. The very next night, Magic Kingdom debuted "Happily Ever After," a new pyrotechnic and projection show centered on Cinderella Castle. MousePlanet's Donald and Bonnie Fink attended the very crowded first show, and Disney Parks Blog provided a Live Stream to the internet.


The new show makes use of lasers, very sharp projections on Cinderella Castle, lighting effects, fireworks launched from and near the castle, and fireworks launched from the launch site behind the park. Photo by Bonnie Fink.


Disney Parks Blog presented a live stream of the debut of 'Happily Ever After' at Magic Kingdom Park. (Complimentary poster and song download offers have ended, but a single of the title song is available for purchase on iTunes and Spotify.) YouTube video replay © Disney

I attended the showing on Monday night. While the park did not seem excessively busy in the afternoon, I took up a place in a viewing area just outside the masking tape-marked boundary that establishes one of the crowd control emergency walkways behind the Partners Statue toward Main Street U.S.A. in the Central Plaza (hub) over an hour before the scheduled 9 o'clock showing. By the time the show ended, the crowd size reminded me of a Fourth of July-sized crowd.


Happily Ever After seems to be a worthy successor to Wishes. Whether this part of the display is intended to be a hidden Mickey is one of many questions just a single viewing brings to mind in a fun way. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

In my opinion (and that of others that I have spoken to or read), the show is an outstanding successor to Wishes. It brings characters and familiar songs to a Magic Kingdom fireworks show in new ways, and of course Tinker Bell too. Indeed, there are new shapes for fireworks bursts that likely were developed just for this show (and we will find out more in the next couple of weeks). I have seen (and read about) more than one tear shed during the show, and its songs and spectacle have the crowd breaking into applause at breaks after singing along.


During the show's exit music (after the fireworks finale), the beacons light the sky around Cinderella Castle which remains bathed in detailed projections. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Since this is only the third nightly fireworks show in Magic Kingdom's 45 years, we expect that it will be around for a long time. But, because it makes extensive use of digital technology, it likely will be less static than its predecessors and shows like Fantasmic! Like the other castle projection shows over the years since those were introduced, we expect that there will be, at minimum, subtle changes introduced to the show as new animated features introduce new characters that find their way into a moment or two during the show.


Subtle lights shine in the trees after the show during the exit music as well. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Be particularly aware that because the show makes such extensive use of projections on Cinderella Castle, best viewing (especially for first-time viewers) likely will be the Central Plaza (hub) area and straight back on Main Street U.S.A. In the coming weeks, we will take a look at what sort of viewing experiences may be expected from other locations, like my old "second favorite" place to view Wishes: New Fantasyland (between Cinderella Castle and Be Our Guest Restaurant). As always, be particularly mindful of the masking-taped and marked walkways, as the cast members will be ever-vigilant in preventing folks from trying to stand and watch the fireworks from those corridors for the safety of everyone.

Pandora – The World of Avatar Previews Continue

As the May 27 official opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar approaches at Disney's Animal Kingdom, larger groups of guests are getting to experience the new land—but still, only in limited doses. With cast member previews earlier this month, and the local press tour that our Donald Fink reported on earlier this week, Annual Passholder and Disney Vacation Club Members (with resort reservations only) previews are now underway in two-hour slots. All of the preview visits required prior reservations and, as has been extensively reported, filled up quickly.

Many weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have reserved a 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. visit this past Sunday to Pandora as an Annual Passholder. In my opinion, it was an amazing experience. However, I realize and have little doubt that my enjoyment was extensively aided by the fact that admission was very much controlled and limited. In other words, with only a limited number of guests allowed in the land at a time, I got to enjoy the new land in a way that will unlikely be repeated any time soon after the May 27 opening—there were little or no lines and no crowds.

A few days before my scheduled visit, My Disney Experience account showed a new Fastpass+ entry for the Na'vi River Journey. Interestingly, it showed an entry time a full hour before my scheduled visit to the land and, indeed, cast members allowed guests (including me) into the land begin at 5 p.m. I learned upon entering the land that the Fastpass+ entry was used to admit guests to the land (my MagicBand was read at the construction wall's door), and guests were free to ride the River Journey as many times as desired (there was no line).


Admission to Pandora previews is controlled by a special FastPass+ in My Disney Experience. Screenshot by Alan S. Dalinka.


Although the line to get in to Pandora previews went nearly to the Tree of Life, it moved quickly as the MagicBands and Annual Passes of guests were read by cast at the construction door to the new land. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

After having the MagicBand read and passing through the construction wall, additional cast members distributed maps of the land and distributed paper Fastpass tickets for admission to the Flight of Passage attraction. Only one ride aboard a banshee per guest was permitted, and the paper Fastpass was collected from each guest.


Preview attendees each are supposed to receive a single FastPass ticket to ride Flight of Passage. No tickets are required for the other sights or the River Journey. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Preview attendees each are provided with a map of the new land. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The River Journey is a slow-moving boat ride with stunning scenery. I chose to re-watch the movie Avatar just a day before visiting and that adds to but is not necessary to enjoy the details of the ride. Young children who are scared of the dark or "creatures" may not care for the experience, but this is one ride where nothing goes "horribly wrong" (in the classic Disney theme park ride sense) and none of the creatures make any aggressive moves toward the boats.


The River Journey includes the most life-like audioanimatronic character yet created. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Flight of Passage is an amazing multi-dimensional experience that just a single ride does not permit me to fully write about here. The visuals are stunning and the ride is quite thrilling. On this last point, of course, it means that it is not a ride for everyone (the young woman on the seat next to me seemed to be so unnerved by the experience that she took off her 3D glasses and closed her eyes part way through with her head looking away from the scenery). Folks with a fear of heights will want to avoid this experience entirely as well.


While not in operation during previews, Flight of Passage will have a Single Rider line, as well as a FastPass+ and Standby entries. A very long standby queue area is already waiting for the long lines that are sure to fill this area. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

On Flight of Passage, guests are restrained in their seats from behind. I fit comfortably, if snugly, but wondered whether I would have fit in the restraints had I not lost the weight I have previously written about. We will find out what accommodations may be available for folks at the Global Media Preview before the grand opening and will report on what we learn.


Pay heed to the warnings before deciding whether to ride Flight of Passage, as it unlike any other ride in Disney Parks. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The land itself is simply stunning. Every placemaking technique is used to create an otherworldly experience to, as Donald Fink wrote about in his article, transport guests to the far-off Pandora. Real plants mix seamlessly with imagineered details. Because the sunsets after 8 p.m. Eastern at this time of year, I only got the slightest hint of the bioluminescence, but it is going to be a real sight to see come nightfall.


Enter the Valley of Mo'ara to see all the sights of Pandora. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Guests are completely surrounded by the theming of the new land. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Visuals within Pandora are so tightly controlled as to create a whole new place. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Water falls from floating mountains in Pandora. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Dusk provided just a hint of what nighttime will bring to Pandora. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The food and merchandise offerings all support the amazing theming of Pandora.


Inside Windtraders, the primary Pandora merchandise location, several customize/build-your-own souvenir options are available, including these necklaces. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


It takes about an hour and $74.99 plus tax, but you can have an Avatar created in your own likeness. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The Canteen offers "Create-Your-Own Satu'li Bowl" options. This is Chopped Wood-Grilled Chicken, Mixed Whole Grain & Rice with Charred Onion Chimichurri sauce. $11.49 plus tax. It was excellent. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

More Updates Arrive in My Disney Experience App

Earlier this week, Disney rolled out a number of updates to the My Disney Experience App, some of which were announced earlier this year. The most noteworthy update is the premier of mobile food ordering available now to guests registered for previews of Pandora-The World of Avatar in the all-new Satu'li Canteen, the restaurant in Disney's Animal Kingdom's newest land. Since Satu'li Canteen only opens to all Guests on May 27 when the new land makes its official debut, the App cautions that guests should "please resist the temptation to order food since you won't be able to pick it up" unless participating in a preview. Unfortunately, the new feature came to my iPhone the day after I visited Pandora, so I was unable to try it (though, as discussed above, I did try some of the excellent new food).


The latest updates to the My Disney Experience are now available, at least on iOS. Screenshot by Alan S. Dalinka. Contents ©Disney.


My Disney Experience now allows guests to order food at Satu'li Canteen from the app. Screenshot by Alan S. Dalinka. Contents ©Disney.


Until Pandora officially opens on May 27, the new mobile order feature is just a hint of what likely will be rolled out more broadly if the technology works as expected. For now, only credit cards are accepted for payment of mobile orders, but the app suggests dining plans will be in the future. Screenshot by Alan S. Dalinka. Contents ©Disney.

For folks that have granted permission to My Disney Experience App to provide notifications, the app now can provide a banner, pop-up, and/or notification center notice when new Disney PhotoPass photos are available for viewing in the app. For Annual Passholders (like me), this feature may save the repeated urge to refresh the app repeatedly to see whether new photos have arrived. On Monday, I took two photos with two PhotoPass photographers at Magic Kingdom and received two sets of notices that new photos are available. The update's notes only suggest that your first photos of the day will provide the notice, so my results may not be typical or further refinements already have been made behind the scenes. We will keep on eye on how this feature works and invite you to share your experiences wth us in the comments and social media.


With notifications enabled, My Disney Experience App now provides notice that new Disney PhotoPass photos are available for viewing. Screenshot by Alan S. Dalinka. Contents ©Disney.

The final announced enhancement to the My Disney Experience App is that you can now view additional detailed information about your Walt Disney World Resort hotel reservations and the hotel itself. For example, the hotel address, relevant phone numbers and more information now appears in the app. Additional details about available guest services (like the locations of everything from ATMs to Automated External Defibrillators and Coin Press Machines), available recreation and the hotel's dining options are all provided together with your reservation.


The "My Reservation" tab now provides additional information about your active Walt Disney World Resort hotel reservations. Screenshot by Alan S. Dalinka. Contents ©Disney.

Holiday Party Tickets Now On Sale

With the Summer Season immediately ahead, Walt Disney World has opened ticket sales for its Fall and Winter holiday parties. As we have previously reported, Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party kicks off this year on August 25, before Summer even ends, and runs on select nights through November 1. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party then gets its start just over a week later, running on select nights from November 9 through December 22. For both of these hard-ticketed, after-hours Magic Kingdom parties, generally, the price of admission increases with the calendar. Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members are eligible for discounts on select dates by logging in to the site with their Walt Disney World username and password.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
Dates Ages 10+ Ages 3-9 AP/DVC
Ages 10+
AP/DVC
Ages 3-9
8/25, 8/29, 9/1, 9/7, 9/10, 9/12, 9/17, 9/24 $74 $69 $69 $64
9/19, 9/26 $79 $74 $73 $68
9/15, 9/22, 9/29, 10/1 $88 $83 $79 $74
10/3, 10/5, 10/9, 10/10, 10/12, 10/15, 10/17, 10/19 $94 $89 $89 $84
10/22, 10/25, 10/26, 11/1 $94 $89 No Discounts
10/6, 10/13, 10/20, 10/27, 10/29 $99 $94 No Discounts
10/31 $115 $110 No Discounts

Under Age 3 does not require a ticket. Prices do not include tax or shipping.
Tickets may be purchased on this page of the Walt Disney World website.

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
Dates Ages 10+ Ages 3-9 AP/DVC
Ages 10+
AP/DVC
Ages 3-9
11/12, 11/14, 11/16 $89 $84 $82 $77
11/9 $94 $89 $87 $82
11/10, 11/17, 11/26, 11/28, 12/1, 12/3, 12/5, 12/12 $95 $90 $91 $86
12/7, 12/10, 12/14, 12/17 $95 $90 No Discounts
12/8, 12/15 $99 $94 No Discounts
12/19, 12/21, 12/22 $109 $104 No Discounts

Under Age 3 does not require a ticket. Prices do not include tax or shipping.
Tickets may be purchased on this page of Walt Disney World.com.

More Details about Disney's Night of Joy 2017

Disney has announced some additional details about Disney's Night of Joy 2017, the Christian Music festival of gospel, pop, hip-hop and more coming September 8 and 9, to ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. This year, there will be options to purchase concert-only tickets or concert-plus-theme park tickets for either or both nights.

  • Single-night, concert-only tickets: $45 plus tax (in advance)
  • Two-night, concert-only tickets: $69 plus tax (in advance)
  • Add-on: 1-day Walt Disney World Theme Park Ticket for $62 plus tax (good for admission any one day between September 8-30, 2017, at any one of the Four Parks)

Additional premium seating packages will be available for an extra charge. Groups of 10 or more will be able to purchase discounted tickets.

Purchase the 2-Night Concert plus 1-day add-on Theme Park Advanced ticket by August 8 (group ticket purchasers have until August 25), 2017, and ticket will also include one admission to Disney's Blizzard Beach or Disney's Typhoon Lagoon which may be used once between September 8-30, 2017.

Views Around the World

In this week's Views Around the World, before I got back to town, Donald Fink brings us some photos, including a look at the changes over at D-Living and some of the latest foods at Amorette's Patisserie at Disney Springs. As already noted above, I got over to Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom, and saw some of the latest road construction along World Drive.

Magic Kingdom


The Emporium is again back behind construction scrims, but remains open. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


After a long absence, the statue of Roy Disney and Minnie Mouse on a bench has returned to its regular spot in the square on Main Street U.S.A. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Renovations at Prince Charming Regal Carrousel are expected to be completed soon and the carrousel could be seen rotating behind the scrim from time to time earlier this week. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Macarons are now available at Gaston's Tavern in Fantasyland. There are two choices of three: one with pistachio, raspberry, and lemon, and another with chocolate, vanilla, and coffee. Photo by Donald Fink.


The Rockettower Plaza Stage is closed for refurbishment. The Incredible Super Dance Party is being replaced by The Cosmic Dance Party. Mr. Incredible currently meets and greets guests against a photo backdrop (not shown here) around the construction wall to the right in this photo. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Sunshine Tree Terrace remains open during exterior refurbishment in Adventureland. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Having just returned from Hawaii, I thought a visit to this scene in it's a small world seemed appropriate. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Animal Kingdom


Last year, I spotted a prototype parking courtesy tram over at Magic Kingdom's parking lot. This week, Donald Fink spotted one in Disney's Animal Kingdom's parking lot where a cast member mentioned that testing and training is underway there because the maintenance facility is nearby. Photo by Donald Fink.


This weekend, the park was trying out an Annual Passholders bag check lane. Passholder previews of Pandora are underway and we do not know whether this will continue once the previews end. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Refurbishment continues in the area of the former Fast Pass ticket distribution outside the entrance to Kilimanjaro Safaris. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


My Safari driver referred to this as one of the hyenas, but I believe it is one of the African Painted Dogs that also calls this habitat home. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


The adult giraffes keep close watch over the baby giraffe on the savannah. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney Springs


D-Living, the Disney specialty store in the Town Center area, has replaced with its Beauty and the Beast theme with a summer theme. Photo by Donald Fink.


The summer merchandise now available at D-Living includes this Star Wars Tie Fighter Barbecue. Photo by Donald Fink.


The dining table display at D-Living is now summery and bright. The dishes are plastic in an outdoor, next-to-the-pool kind of way. Photo by Donald Fink.


D-Living has added Minnie Mouse Flip Flops to its summery merchandise mix. Photo be Donald Fink.


Amorette's Patisserie has added sandwiches to their menu, including this Ham on Focaccia bread with mustard and honey sauce, plus cheddar cheese and fresh watercress. The Watercress also has a Cabernet vinaigrette. Photo by Donald Fink.


Amorette's now also offers a Caprese Crepe with a basil pesto, seasoned tomatoes, mozzarella, baby greens and a balsamic glaze. Also available: a ham and cheese crepe. Photo by Donald Fink.

Road Construction


New vertical support installation has begun between Magic Kingdom's parking toll plaza and the parking lot. New flyover ramps are likely to be constructed soon. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Driving from the Magic Kingdom's parking toll plaza into the parking lot is now a drive amongst concrete columns. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

One Passholder's Tip

This section of the Update provides our MousePlanet readers with the benefit of my years of experience as a longtime Walt Disney World Four Parks Annual Passholder, and lots of personal trial and errors, one (hopefully weekly) tip at a time.

One Passholder's Tip: Week 16
Photography Fun Edition #3: Use optical zoom for long-distance photos!


With 40x optical zoom, the skeleton pirate atop the entrance sign to Pirates of the Caribbean appears within easy reach. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

If you have ever wondered what difference it makes that most smartphones (like my beloved iPhone 7 plus) have very limited optical zoom capabilities built in to their cameras, my visit on Monday reinforced why I try to always bring a camera with optical zoom with me when I know I will be trying to capture images of distant sights. The launch facilities at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida is over 55 miles from Magic Kingdom but nearly due east. Indeed, I have watched prior rocket launches from Epcot, my home, and from parking lots all around Orlando.

With optical zoom on a camera, the lenses actually optically bring the representation of the image "closer" (like a magnifying glass), whereas with merely digital zoom, the camera enlarges the pixels that comprise the image. The more the image is magnified before it is captured, the clearer it appears when you view it (post it, print it, etc.).

Some smartphone cameras (only the iPhone 7 plus in the Apple family of devices and several other brands of smartphones) have some optical zoom (iPhone 7 plus has 2x and some other manufacturers have advertised 20x and more, but I have not used them). My latest point-and-shoot camera has a built-in 40x optical zoom capability, so that is what I brought with me to try to capture Monday's SpaceX rocket launch. For a hand-held shot from probably 60 or more miles away, I am pleased with the result.


On Monday night, SpaceX launched a rocket from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, over 55 miles from Magic Kingdom, yet with optical zoom on the camera, you can see the rocket. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Without zooming in with the camera, you can see that the prior rocket photo was taken from the Adventureland side of the Magic Kingdom's Central Plaza (hub) as the Move it! Shake it! mini-parade/show was concluding a performance. Look for the little orange streak above Walt Disney's head. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

You may not want to capture something as far away as a rocket, but having optical zoom on your camera may allow you to capture images of the shows and attractions that most smartphone cameras just cannot do with clarity. Be governed accordingly, as your mileage may vary.

 

Don't keep it to yourself!
Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments.

This and That

…In further promotion of Disney Vacation Club's newest resort, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, now through June 15, DVC is running the "Makings of a New Frontier Sweepstakes" for a chance to win a 5-night stay in a One-Bedroom Villa at Copper Creek. DVC is offering two separate and distinct drawings: one for folks that are already DVC Members as of May 15, 2017, and one for non-Members. Visit this page where the primary method of entry requires watching a nearly 30-minute "behind the scenes" (infomercial-style) video as this is, after all, being used to solicit purchases of timeshare interests. Full rules, including an alternate method of entry can be viewed here. Note: DVC Members will need to have their Member ID number handy, so get your card or virtual card ready.

…How time flies: STK Orlando is celebrating its one year anniversary in The Landing area of Disney Springs with "complimentary bubbles and dessert for the table" with dinner reservations made for Thursday, May 25. Call (407)917-7440 or book online.

…In the "everything has a day" department, Walt Disney World celebrated "National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day" on Monday, May 15, by publishing the recipe for Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa's chocolate chip cookies from Chef Erich. Visit Disney Parks Blog for the recipe and then let us know how yours turn out. Heck, feel free to send us photos, since, as I have said many times over the past year, pictures of food are calorie-free!

…Disney announced the birth of two red river hog piglets last week at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. They are not yet on regular public display, but you can see some photos on Disney Parks Blog.

…For folks that make the drive up I-4 to Universal Orlando Resort, its new water park, Volcano Bay, is having its grand opening on May 25. The Universal-owned Wet 'n' Wild park in Orlando was closed a few months ago ahead of the new park's debut.


The central focus of the pools, lazy river and water slide at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii, is an imposing volcano. Universal Orlando Resort's Volcano Bay water park opens on May 25. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…The MousePlanet Newsletter is here! The newsletter contains a recap of the week's articles (in case you miss a day), news that may have developed since the weekly Updates were published, and tips about what's happening at the Disney theme parks for the coming weekend. We'll also include a fun 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, May 16, 2017 5 / 10
Wednesday, May 17, 2017 4 / 10
Thursday, May 18, 2017 5 / 10
Friday, May 19, 2017 5 / 10
Saturday, May 20, 2017 6 / 10

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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).

2017 Resort Events

  • Star Wars Experiences – Opened December 1, 2015 (ongoing)
  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – March 1 - May 29, 2017.
  • Dapper Day Outing (unofficial events)– November 18, 2017 at Magic Kingdom; November 19, 2017 at Epcot
  • GayDays | #RedShirtDay (unofficial events) – June 1, 2017 at Disney's Animal Kingdom; June 2, 2017 at Disney's Hollywood Studios; June 3, 2017 at Magic Kingdom; June 4, 2017 at Epcot
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – August 31 - November 13, 2017.
  • 35th Disney Night of Joy at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex – September 8 and 9, 2017
  • Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic – October 27–28, 2017
  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party – August 25, 29; September 1, 7, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 22, 24, 26, 29;
       October 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 29, 31; November 1
  • Holidays at Walt Disney World –Dates TBD
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party – November 8, 9, 12, 14, 16, 17, 26, 28;
       December 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22
  • Holidays Around the World at Epcot –Dates TBD
  • Candlelight Processional at Epcot –Dates TBD

2018 Resort Events

  • Epcot International Festival of the Arts – "Early" 2018
  • 25th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival – "Spring" 2018

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.

2017

2018

For current information on registration dates and capacity, see Lorree Tachell's runDisney Race Capacity Updates in the Team MousePlanet forum on our MousePad discussion board.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Note: Not all attraction closures have been officially confirmed by Disney, and are all subject to change at any time. Refurbishment schedules are estimates only. We recommend checking for updates as you plan your visit. All information is subject to change without notice. To get the most recent updates, visit DisneyWorld.com or use the MyDisneyExperience App on your iOS or Android device.

Magic Kingdom

  • Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams – had its final showing on May 11, 2017, and has been replaced by the new fireworks show: Happily Ever After.
  • Stitch's Great Escape – closed except for occasional "seasonal" openings.
  • The Hall of Presidents – closed to add an audio-animatronic figure of the 45th president of the United States. My Disney Experience App says the closure is through June 29, 2017, but one cast member outside the attraction this week said it may not reopen until September.


    A cast member in front of Hall of Presidents said that the attraction may remain closed longer than previously announced. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

  • Prince Charming Regal Carrousel – closed for refurbishment through mid-May.
  • The Incredibles Super Dance Party – closed. The Rockettower Plaza Stage is being refurbished for "The Cosmic Dance Party" that our friends at TouringPlans.com say to expect to open as early as, perhaps, May 19, 2017.

Epcot

Scheduled closure:

  • Mission:SPACE – June 5, 2017 through late July, 2017

Permanently closed:

  • Innoventions West (except Character Meet and Greets)
  • Innoventions East (except Colortopia and a Passholder shop)
    …including Sum of All Thrills and Storm Struck

Disney's Hollywood Studios

Permanently closed:

  • Streets of America
  • Premiere Theatre
  • The Writer's Stop
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure
  • Studio Catering Co.
  • Meet & Greets: Mike and Sulley, Phineas and Ferb, Mater and Lightning McQueen
  • Magic of Disney Animation
  • Academy of Television Sciences Hall of Fame

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • No known closures at this time

Blizzard Beach

  • Runoff Rapids. Expected completion: TBA.

Typhoon Lagoon

  • No known closures at this time

Disney Springs

  • Portobello Country Italian Trattoria – Closed April 24, 2017. Will reopen in Fall 2017 with a new concept from James Beard award-winner and Top Chef Master Tony Mantuano.
  • Disney Quest – scheduled to close July 3, 2017 to make way for The NBA Experience.
  • La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil – ends its run on December 31, 2017. Next use of the theater on the West Side TBA.

Resorts

  • Caribbean Beach – Centertown, the resort's marketplace, will be expanded with new waterfront dining and retail shopping areas. The project is expected to be completed 2019-20. Due to the work, the following food service and retail locations are closed:
    • Old Port Royale Food Court
    • Shutters at Old Port Royale
    • Banana Cabana Pool Bar
    • Calypso Trading Post
  • Coronado Springs – A new 15-story tower overlooking Lago Dorado, the resort's central lake, will add 500 rooms featuring suites and concierge level services, and a rooftop dining facility that will include panoramic views of nighttime fireworks shows at the Theme Parks. The resort also plans to refurbish current resort rooms and transform some of its landscape. The project is expected to be completed 2019-20.
     


    Bus Stop #1 at Disney's Coronado Springs is closed for refurbishment. Photo by Donald Fink.

  • Wilderness Lodge and Villas – Hidden Springs pool, resort beach, and playground closed. The opening of Disney Vacation Club's Copper Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney's Wilderness Lodge is expected July 17. In the meantime, Roaring Fork is also closed.

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.


Travel Discounts for Everyone

DisneyWorld.com has released its Fall 2017 Free Dining offer. Get a free dining plan when you purchase a non-discounted 5-night/6-day Magic Your Way room and ticket package with a Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus Option. Book through July 7, 2017.

2017 Travel Dates

  • August 21 - September 30
  • November 14 - 20
  • November 25 - 27
  • December 8 - 23

Packages require advance reservations and include:

  • Room
  • Theme Park ticket(s) with Park Hopper or Park Hopper Plus (Minimum 2-Days required)
  • Dining Plan (Disney Dining for Deluxe & Deluxe Villas; Quick Service for Value & Moderate Resorts)

Details & Restrictions:

  • Tickets and options must be used within 14 days of first use
  • Children ages 3-9 must choose from cildren's menu (if available)
  • Rooms allocated for the offer are limited.
  • Some table-service restaurants may have limited or no availability at time of package purchase.
  • Cannot be combined with other discounts or promotions.
  • Excludes alcohaolic beverages and gratuities.
  • Everyone in the same room must be on the same package.
  • Offer excludes campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney's Art of Animation Resort Little Mermaid Standard Rooms and Bungalows at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows.

Additional restrictions and exclusions may apply. Thanks to Mary Kraemer of Masterpiece Travels for the tip.


Our friends at Small World Vacations let us know that Disney has a made a summer discount offer where you can save up to 25% on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels for stays most nights May 28-Aug. 31, 2017 when you book March 27-July 14, 2017. You can also see all of Disney's current special offers on DisneyWorld.com.


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


Kick Off Your Spring room offer

Passholders can book rooms at the Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort starting at $86 per night under this offer. The discount is valid most Sunday through Thursday nights, April 23 through May 25, 2017. Additional resorts and dates are available for stays April 9 through April 22 and May 26 through June 10, 2017, with rates from $101 at the All-Star Resorts to $292 per night at Disney's BoardWalk Inn

Booking Window – Must book by June 9, 2017

Travel Window – Most nights from April 9, 2017 through June 10, 2017

Terms and Conditions:

  • Passholder must present a valid Walt Disney World Pass at check-in.
  • Advance reservations required.
  • Maximum – 14 nights
  • Cannot be combined with any other discount or promotions.
  • Offer excludes the following room types: campsites, 3-bedroom villas, Disney's Art of Animation Resort – The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms and Bungalows at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows.

Visit the Annual Passholder website for details, or call 407-939-7676 to book by phone.

If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!

Discounts for Disney Rewards VISA Credit Card Holders


20 percent off Joffrey's coffee/tea kiosks

Disney Visa cardholders receive 20 percent off their entire purchase at Joffrey's coffee/tea kiosks throughout Walt Disney World, including Tea Traders Café by Joffrey's, and online at Joffreys.com with code: VISABEANS


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
    • World Showcase: DestiNations Discovered
  • 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 & 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

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.

Cardholders also receive 10% off select merchandise purchases of $50 or more at the following Walt Disney World® Resort Operating Participant merchandise locations including Basin®, Basin White®, Chapel Hats, Good Fortune Gifts and House of Good Fortune, kidsHeritage and Marrakesh Emporium Arts & Crafts.


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

10% off select recreation experiences

Disney Visa cardholders receive 15 percent off the non-discounted price of the recreation experiences listed below:

  • Carriage Rides at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort and Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
  • Horseback Trail Rides at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

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.


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:

  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper Option for $209 each, plus tax
  • Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper and Water Park Fun and More Options for $246 each, plus tax.
  • Disney 5-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper Option for $224 each, plus tax
  • Disney 5-Day Military Promotional Tickets with Park Hopper and Water Park Fun and More Options for $261 each, plus tax.

Walt Disney World Resort tickets may be used January 1 through December 19, 2017. Thanks to our reader Dr. Smith who alerted us that the website militarydisneytips.com notes that April 9-23 are no longer listed as blockout dates for Disney's Armed Forces Salute.

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.

The 2017 offer is valid most nights from January 1 through December 19, 2017.

Travel Discounts for Florida Residents

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 an offer for Canadian residents. Canadian residents receive a 25% discount on 4-day or longer tickets purchased. 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. Scott S. just alerted us that the offer has been extended to tickets purchased through May 20, 2017.

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

Reader Stuart D. let us know about Disney's 2018 free dining offer for folks traveling from the U.K. You can see the offers on Disney World's U.K. packages website. There are lots of details about the free dining, a $200 Disney Gift Card, a 14-Day Ticket for the price of 7 (including Water Parks and Memory Maker) and a lot of fine print. Here are the highlights of the 14-night packages during summer 2018 holidays and all include Memory Maker photos, 14-Day Ultimate Ticket for the price of a 7-Day ticket (including FastPass+), and 12-month DisneyLife subscription:

Disney Value Resorts

  • Disney's All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney's All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney's All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney's Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney's Pop Century Resort

Packages from £809 GBP

Also includes:

  • Free Breakfasts

Disney Moderate Resorts

  • Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney's Port Orleans Resorts
  • The Cabins at Disney's Fort Filderness Resort

Packages from £1156 GBP

Also includes:

  • Free Quick-Service Dining Plan
  • $200 Disney Spending Money*

Disney Deluxe Resorts

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney's Beach Club Resort
  • Disney's Boardwalk Inn
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Packages from £1572 GBP

Also includes:

  • Free Disney Dining Plan
  • $200 Disney Spending Money*

Disney Deluxe Villas

  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort
  • Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village
  • Disney's Beach Club Villas
  • Disney's Boardwalk Villas
  • Disney's Old Key West Resort
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

Packages from £1331 GBP

Also includes:

  • Free Disney Dining Plan
  • $200 Disney Spending Money*

Sample package prices are for 2 adults and 2 children (aged 3-9) , including a two-week stay, arriving 27th May, 2018 - 5th September, 2018, for new bookings only, subject to availability. Additional terms and conditions on Disney's U.K. website, but a few more details follow.

Free Dine and Free Breakfast Offers are available to book 6 April, 2017 - 6 July, 2017, for selected arrivals 1 January - 18 March, 2018 and 6 April - 30 November, 2018. Minimum length of stay is 5 consecutive nights, and a maximum of 21 consecutive nights. Dining plan must be selected for all members of the traveling party aged 3 and over. In addition to the minimum stay, Disney Tickets for the whole party must be booked to qualify. Gratuities are not included.

*$200 Disney Spending Money Offer is available to book 6 April, 2017 - 6 July, 2017, for selected arrivals 1 January - 18 March, 2018 and 6 April - 30 November 2018. Booking must include 5 nights minimum stay at a Moderate Resort or participating Deluxe Resort or Villa. Spending money will be in the form of a Disney Gift Card valid at Walt Disney World and select U.S. Disney Stores only.

If you know of an offer we haven't listed, please drop us an email with the details!


Comments

  1. By carolinakid

    That's definitely a hyena, Alan.
    Glad to have you back!

  2. By Silvercat

    Yep, hyena. Painted dogs have very large, bat-like ears, and a black, pointed snout, as well as very distinctive colouring. Sorry, Alan!

  3. By asdhollywood

    Quote Originally Posted by carolinakid View Post
    That's definitely a hyena, Alan.
    Glad to have you back!

    Thanks. I spent most of my life in Chicagoland, so my animal identification skills are limited. The potholes on the safari make me feel right at home!

  4. Discuss this article on MousePad.