Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 17-23, 2017

by Alan S. Dalinka, staff writer

Walt Disney World Resort Update for October 17–23, 2017

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

Writer's note: As I wrote last week, I have been making guest appearances from time to time on The Garry Meier Show to talk about the sort of Disney Parks things we write about here on MousePlanet. Garry is a Radio Hall of Fame inductee who has hosted many popular radio shows going back several decades based out of Chicago. Garry now hosts a podcast which is free on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (though, note, since it is on the internet, his shows may contain adult humor and occasional adult language - be governed accordingly). My most recent chat with Garry is now available to listen for free; we talk about how Disney Parks are celebrating Halloween and the holidays this year, and a bunch more.

Jump to 34:19 if you just want to hear my discussion with Garry about Disney Parks.

And now, on with the Update.

News and Views

Four Disney Hotels Launch Dog-Friendly Pilot Program | Tickets on Sale For Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire | Wheel of Fortune Celebrates its 35th Season During Epcot's 35th Anniversary Year | Epcot Concerts & Candlelight Calendar | Views around the World | One Passholder's Tip | This and That | Crowd Forecast

Four Disney Hotels Launch Dog-Friendly Pilot Program

As of this past Sunday, October 15, four Disney resorts at Walt Disney World will now allow guests to bring along up to two dogs per guest room on a pilot basis. The Resorts are: Disney's Yacht Club Resort, Disney's Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, Disney's Art of Animation Resort, and the cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Each of those resorts now also offers easy access to outdoor pet exercise areas and green spaces with pet relief areas. The pilot program was just announced on Friday.

A pilot project allows dogs to stay in guest rooms at four Disney Resorts. Photo ©Disney.

For the privilege of bringing along dogs, the resorts each charge an additional per night/per room pet-cleaning fee: $75/night at Disney's Yacht Club Resort; $50/night at Disney's Port Orleans Resort – Riverside, Disney's Art of Animation Resort, and the cabins at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. Disney says guest dogs "must be well behaved, leashed in resort public areas and properly vaccinated." Additional restrictions apply, so guests are encouraged to contact (407) W-DISNEY in advance with questions; DVC Members may call Member Services at (800) 800-9800 (note, of course, than none of the resorts included in the pilot program are DVC Resorts).

In addition to being able to have a dog or two stay in your room, at check-in, guests receive "Pluto's Welcome Kit," including a mat, bowls, a pet ID tag, plastic disposable bags, puppy pads, and dog walking maps. Also included: a Pluto "Do Not Disturb" door hanger indicating to hotel staff that a pet is in the room. Each of the four pilot resorts will soon have an additional selection of pet merchandise available for sale as well.

As has been true for years, full pet day care and related services continue to be available at Best Friends Pet Care, located at Walt Disney World at 2510 Bonnet Creek Parkway (near Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside). Visit BestFriendsPetCare.com or call (407) 209-3126 for more information, fees, and reservations. The Center opens one hour before the Theme Parks and closes one hour after they close.

Tickets on Sale For Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire

Tickets are now on sale for Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, the hyper-reality experience under construction in the Marketplace area of Disney Springs (between Once Upon a Toy and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique). The new attraction opens Saturday, December 16, 2017. Another location is under construction in the Downtown Disney district at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, and it is due to open Friday, January 5, 2018.

From the attraction website:

A galaxy far, far away needs your help. In teams of four, be transported with family and friends in a brand new hyper-reality experience from Lucasfilm, ILMxLAB and The VOID. Under the orders of the budding rebellion, your team will travel to the molten planet of Mustafar. Your mission is to recover Imperial intelligence vital to the rebellion's survival. Alongside the pragmatic droid K-2S0, your team must navigate through an enemy facility walking into danger at every turn. Disguised as stormtroopers, grab your blaster, solve puzzles, and fight giant lava monsters in an effort to fulfill your team's orders.

At Disney Springs, the 30-minute experience costs $29.95, plus $1.95 tax and a payment processing fee of $2.85. (The California version is the same, but no tax is charged for ticket pre-orders.) Tickets are available online. No discounts are currently offered (including annual passholders, Disney Vacation Club Members, or Disney cast members).

The VOID, home of the Star Wars:Secrets of the Empire experience, is being built between Once Upon a Toy and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at the eastern end of the Marketplace area. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The experience has a minimum height requirement of 48 inches, and The VOID recommends that participants be at least 10 years or older, due to the weight of the gear and some intense content. Participants under age 18 must have a parent or guardian sign a waiver.

At press time, tickets were available for purchase through February 14, 2018. The first several days have mostly sold out, and many other days already have filled some time slots. Disney has not said how long the experience will remain open on either coast.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire – The VOID and ILMxLAB – Hyper-Reality Experience

Wheel of Fortune Celebrates its 35th Season During Epcot's 35th Anniversary Year

Last week, Wheel of Fortune recorded three weeks of episodes on the stage at Epcot's World Showcase Plaza between Future World and the World Showcase Lagoon. Like Epcot, Wheel of Fortune is celebrating its 35th Anniversary season of shows (in syndication) with hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White. The first week of shows will air the week of November 13, 2017, and focus on the holiday season at Walt Disney World with grandparent/grandchild teams. The second week of shows will air the week of February 12, 2018, and honors Valentine's Day with married couples and Disney's Fairytale Weddings. The third week of shows features Disney fans and will air the week of April 30, 2018. All of the broadcasts coincide with advertising "sweeps" weeks.

Contestants on the shows had the opportunity to win Disney gift cards, Disney Cruise Line trips, vacations at Aulani-A Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii, Adventures by Disney prize packages, and Disney Vacation Club Trips. Home viewers will have the opportunity to win family trips to Walt Disney World Resort.

As you might imagine, recording the episodes at an outdoor venue at Epcot was a major production. Wheel of Fortune estimated that close to a million pounds of staging, electric, lighting, roof structure, and technical equipment were on site for the show, brought in by 25 semi-tractor trailer rigs. Twelve cameras were on stage for the episodes, necessitating approximately 15,000 feet of power and video cable. A production assistant said that the major set pieces used at Epcot—the letter board, the video display behind the contestants, and, indeed both the wheel and the prize wheel for the bonus round—are those normally used in the show's home production studio in Culver City, California.

Vanna White and Pat Sajak spoke with members of the local media ahead of recording shows on October 11 for broadcast in February. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.

While this was the first time that Wheel of Fortune recorded episodes outdoors at Epcot, it was the show's sixth visit to the Resort. This was the show's first visit to record episodes at the Resort since January 1995. All of its prior shows were recorded at the then-named Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney's Hollywood Studios).

Please note: MousePlanet was invited to meet the hosts, and to attend two of the episodes recorded on October 11, which are scheduled for broadcast on February 12 and 13, 2018. While audience members are not ordinarily permitted to photograph an episode, we were invited to do so from a special location behind the audience, and we were asked not to reveal any specific details about the episodes until after they air.

Jim Thornton, "the voice" of "Wheel of Fortune" chats with the audience before an episode at Epcot. Fun fact: before becoming the announcer in 2011, Jim had a long career in radio and TV; he provided voiceover work in Disney-Pixar's "Monster's Inc.," and he can also be heard in the pre-show to the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor at Magic Kingdom. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A show producer ensures that the contestant couples know how to spin the wheel before showtime. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

While Vanna White no longer "turns" the letters, she does activate them by touchscreen during regular game play. Fun fact: Vanna learns the correct puzzle response backstage before each game is played. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Born in Chicago, Pat Sajak first hosted the daytime network version of the show in 1981. He has hosted the nighttime syndicated version of the show since its 1983 debut. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

For game play, Vanna White did not wear a microphone. When she came over to talk to the audience during a break, she needed to use a handheld microphone. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

When productions like these come to the parks, typically, tickets are distributed well in advance. Nevertheless, there were also standby opportunities. The production estimated that over 1,300 guests were in the audience over the three days the show recorded at Epcot. All told, a staff and crew of more than 250 people worked to create the show, between those from Los Angeles and those from Walt Disney World.

In November, Wheel of Fortune will record "Disney Sea & Shore Week" at its home studio in Culver City, California. Those episodes highlighting Disney Cruise Line are scheduled to be broadcast the week of January 8, 2018.

Epcot Concerts & Candlelight Calendar

With about six weeks until the 2017 kick-off of Epcot's nightly presentation of the Candlelight Processional as part of the newly named Epcot International Festival of the Holidays, Disney has announced the final list of scheduled narrators. New to Epcot's stage are Disney Legend Kurt Russell, who has previously narrated at Disneyland in California and starred in many Disney films from the 1960s all the way up to this year’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and gold- and silver-medal-winning gymnast Laurie Hernandez. Two past performers returning to Epcot are actress/comedienne Ana Gasteyer and Jodi Benson, voice of Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

The complete list of narrators can now be found in our interactive calendar which lists all of the upcoming scheduled events at Epcot's America Gardens Theatre from the remaining scheduled Eat to the Beat Concerts through the entire Candlelight Processional schedule. We strive to keep the calendar up to date, but we make no guarantee of the accuracy of the information; it is provided "As-Is, Where-Is," use at your own discretion.

You can interact with the Google-hosted calendar below or add it to any Calendar that supports the iCal format by copying this link. Given the effort it took to create it, we do respectfully request that you do not post our entire calendar on another site without first asking our permission. We do not know why Walt Disney World Resort has not created this sort of functionality outside of the My Disney Experience app itself.

If you like our calendar feature and would like to see us to add more information to it in the future—such as the Disney on Broadway Concert Series (when announced)—please let us know with a Facebook "Like" or provide us with your comments via email, MousePad or immediately below the calendar with a Facebook comment. Your silence may mean the end of this feature this winter!

Facebook Likes, Shares and Comments are encouraged!

For our Epcot Events Calendar:



Views Around the World

It has been awhile since we have taken a look at the progress on construction at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort and Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, so I took walks around both resorts this weekend to see just how far along things have progressed. The Views this week also include visits to Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and even Disney Springs. Suffice to say, there are lots of photos (and a couple of videos) to share and, as always, bits of additional news appear in the captions.

Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

Riding a Disney bus or driving in to Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort from its main entrance on Buena Vista Drive near the Customs House, guests are immediately greeted by this pair of construction cranes. In prior updates, we have shown photos of these cranes from inside Epcot, as this location is actually fairly close to (but across Buena Vista Drive from) World Showcase. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A good deal of land has been cleared, and portions of older facilities have been demolished to make way for the changes coming to the Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Logic (but not a specific Disney announcement) suggests that the construction towers here are assisting in the building of the next Disney Vacation Club property: Disney's Riviera Resort. The Resort was announced at D23 Expo in July, but the only description of its site was "near" Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Most of the Old Port Royale portion of the Resort is closed for refurbishment, including most of Centertown and the connecting lakeside pathways. Guests on foot must use a temporary pathway through the currently unused parking lot for this area. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

With the Resort's main gift shop closed inside Centertown, a "gift truck" sells souvenirs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A food truck-style bar is one of the temporary facilities available while Centertown construction is underway. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

One of the Disney Springs food trucks is open during limited hours near Centertown while construction is underway. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A temporary tent named "Centertown Pavilion" is now the Resort's buffet restaurant. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Signs in the resort bus stops explain the various (temporary) dining and recreation options available during construction at the Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

While the feature pool at Centertown remains open, the boardwalk around it ends part of the way around the pool. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The cranes are the dominant feature of the Resort's skyline. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Exterior work is underway outside Centertown, which will result in new dining facilities. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Disney Skyliner (gondolas) transportation system will connect this area with Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Disney has not announced the exact route or station locations for the system. This photo shows additional construction near the Victory Way exit from the Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.


Siemens' sponsorship contract with Disney has ended. It is unknown what changes this will bring to Spaceship Earth or IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, both of which were sponsored by Siemens. Spaceship Earth is expected to continue operating and no immediate changes are expected to nightly performances of IllumiNations. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Mickey Mouse Epcot Starbucks tumbler is available at Fountain View in Future World for $21.99 plus tax. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The newest "You are here" collection Starbucks mug at Fountain View at Epcot features World Showcase. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

A new Mickey Mouse Starbucks Disney's Hollywood Studios tumbler is now available at The Trolley Car Café along with the park's own "You are here" collection mugs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

It appears that the installation of some theming elements to the control and projection towers between Hollywood Boulevard and the Center Stage area is complete. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The Center Stage and its projection screens have again been dismantled. My Disney Experience app does not list showtimes this week for the Star Wars, A Galaxy Far, Far Away Show. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Echo Lake refurbishment continues, but is expected to be complete before the holiday season, as Disney has announced additional decorations are coming to this area this year. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Both Min & Bill's Dockside Diner and Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction continue to operate during Echo Lake refurbishment (though be sure to check their respective hours, as Gertie's operation, in particular, is often quite limited). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The old (small) soundstage and tour bridge have been completely removed at the future entrance to Toy Story Land next to Pixar Place (and the current entrance to Toy Story Mania). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Pixar Place stroller parking has moved to the former Fastpass ticket distribution area. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

From the dead end beyond the exit of Toy Story Mania, the shape of the facade of one of the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge attraction buildings continues to take shape. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Inside the visible attraction building, a familiar (AT-AT-like) shape is framed in steel. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Additional interesting shapes are starting to rise above the construction walls. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Over at the corresponding current dead end in the new Grand Avenue area, what is believed to be the future gateway to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge continues to take shape. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

With the Grand Avenue area open, the pathway that used to lead between its construction fences and walls and the former Muppets Courtyard which is now called Grand Park, is blocked from guests, placing the facade of Tatooine Traders (the building containing the exit of Star Tours) behind the construction fence. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

In Grand Park, a construction wall now blocks the direct pathway from the restrooms to Tatooine Traders and Star Tours beyond. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The current view from the upper seating area of PizzeRizzo shows the continuing evolution of the new Grand Park and Grand Avenue areas with Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge construction continuing in the distance. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Beyond the concrete wall separating Grand Avenue from the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge construction, the red track of Slinky Dog Dash coaster in Toy Story Land can still be spotted from the upper level of PizzeRizzo. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Behind the Grand Arts Theatre (Muppet-Vision 3D), the construction walls have been moved, making the pathway here even smaller. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The construction walls here have even cut off some of the exit area for Muppet-Vision 3D. Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge construction continues in the distance. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney says "Holiday magic brings billboards to life and transforms the famous Hollywood Tower Hotel into scenes of the season" during Sunset Seasons Greetings, coming this winter to Disney's Hollywood Boulevard. Concept Art ©Disney.

As in the Concept Art, a new digital billbord (video screen) has been installed on Sunset Boulevard near Anaheim Produce. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka (extra color saturation added to highlight video screen).

The billboard advertising Fantasmic! has been removed. From the Concept Art, it appears that it will be replaced with a video screen as well. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Interestingly, looking back toward Hollywood Boulevard, a new billboard advertising a visit to Paradise Pier via the Red Car line now appears on Sunset Boulevard near Anaheim Produce. For those that do not know, Paradise Pier is the name of one of the areas at Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California: at D23 Expo in July, Disney announced that Paradise Pier itself will soon become Pixar Pier. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

Increasingly, on weekends (and even during peak pricing periods), the lines at park ticket booths can be quite long. Save yourself some time at the parks: buy tickets in advance! Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The animal viewing area beyond the temple ruins (between the two tiger habitat viewing areas) along Maharajah Jungle Trek is closed for refurbishment. HDR Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The latest Disney's Animal Kingdom "You are here" Starbucks mugs and Mickey Mouse Animal Kingdom Starbucks tumblers are available at Creature Comforts. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A number of trees still show evidence of the winds of Hurricane Irma at Expedition Everest. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

From atop Expedition Everest, the floating mountains of Pandora-The World of Avatar can be seen in the distance. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

In the other direction, from atop Expedition Everest, the cranes between Disney's Animal Kingdom and Epcot are working on construction of the new 15-story tower at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney's Coronado Springs Resort

A new 15-story tower is under construction next to El Centro, the building that includes the Resort's restaurants, front desk and lobby, and connection to the convention center. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Construction cranes tower over El Centro, the building that includes the Resort's restaurants, front desk and lobby, and connection to the convention center. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

A new (likely temporary) bridge allows guests to get from one end of the resort to another, bypassing the tower construction. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

When completed, the new tower will boast a great nighttime view of Epcot's and Disney's Hollywood Studios' fireworks shows. In the distance, at the left in the photo, is the top of the Epcot-area Walt Disney World Dolphin hotel. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Some of the existing rooms at the Resort, such as Casitas 3, are closed for refurbishment as well. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Disney Springs

While not on the scale of Magic Kingdom, Halloween decorations are on display all around Disney Springs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Different photo backdrops celebrating Halloween are available in the different neighborhoods of Disney Springs. HDR Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

An assortment of Ghirardelli Premium Chocolates are available in Halloween themed sacks. The complimentary sample this season is a Pumpkin Spice square. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Amorette's Patisserie has added "Bakery" to its exterior signs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Pumpky is one of Amorette's dome cakes available only during the Fall season. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Mickey Mousse looks similar to the Pumpky dome cake, but is much smaller, less expensive, and contains different ingredients. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

It is hard to tell from the exterior whether Terralina Crafted Italian is still on schedule to open Fall 2017, replacing Portobello Country Italian Trattoria which closed in April. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Construction on the future Wine Bar George continues in The Landing neighborhood. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The future Wine Bar George now has a roof. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

As the future site of The Edison approaches its targeted year-end opening, the building now says "The Edison" on its exterior. HDR (with excess contrast added to highlight the name on the building) Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The two Starbucks locations at Disney Springs have Orlando and Florida mugs from the "You are here" collection which are not customized to Disney Springs. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Immediately after getting off a Disney Bus at the Town Center bus loop, guests will soon be greeted by a new retailer. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

D-Living in Town Center has closed temporarily for a seasonal thematic redesign. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The former Wolfgang Puck Grand Café is the site of future Jaleo by Chef José Andrés celebrating Spain's cuisine. Panoramic Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

Only the frame of the former Wolfgang Puck Grand Café remains standing. Panoramic Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The former DisneyQuest building is the site of the future NBA Experience. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The rubble in front of the former DisneyQuest and the numerous new openings in the building exterior suggest significant construction is underway inside. 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 (often weekly) tip at a time.

One Passholder's Tip #32
Tweet @WDWToday!

Walt Disney World Guest Services cast members interact with guests on Twitter when you include @WDWToday in a tweet. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

When I saw this ad aboard a Disney Bus this past week it occurred to me that while I have recommended following @MousePlanet on Twitter and Facebook, and while I have even written about giving the #CastCompliment to deserving cast members by tweeting @WDWToday, I have not yet written about how helpful (and fun) the folks on the other end of these tweets can be.

In short, the cast members on the other end of that Twitter handle are there to help. Having trouble finding something on a Park Map: tweet @WDWToday and ask. Have the sort of (non-emergency) problem or question that you would ask a cast member to help you with: tweet @WDWToday. Experience something that was not up to Disney standards: tweet @WDWToday (I suggest being polite; Twitter requires you be brief). Experience something that exceeds your expectations: tweet @WDWToday (and, as I have said before, if you name the Cast Member with some specificity, and add #CastCompliment, you might even see a tweeted response of your recognized Cast Member receiving a certificate of appreciation).

On my personal Twitter account @AlanDalinka, I tweet all sorts of fun stuff with @WDWToday, and I get some pretty great responses. The Cast Members there seem to enjoy the occasional fun photo from the parks and even an occasional pun (gosh, Disney with puns, who'd have thunk)!

As with all Twitter communications, be mindful of the medium: it's public. In busier times, you may not get an immediate response or, if no response seems necessary, any at all. My last bit of advice is to remember, as with any Cast Member interaction, that there are real, live people on the other end, so treat them as you would expect to be treated even when some criticism is required under the circumstances. Please be governed accordingly and your mileage may vary.

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


This and That

…As the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival continues on (through November 13), the neighboring Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic will celebrate its eighth year October 27–28, with its largest event to date with more than 60 food and beverage stations and 11 educational seminars taught by members of the resort’s award-winning food and beverage team. A new limited ticket seminar offered in 2017, the Grand Tasting Experience, will be presented by a master sommelier, highlighting the unique Nebbiolo grape of northern Italy. Bubbles Lounge is another new addition this year: "a secluded, whimsically themed area showcasing sparkling beverages including champagne and sparkling wine, inspired by Lawrence Welk and his champagne style." Other themed areas return this year, including: Carnival Corner, Chinatown, and the Beer Garden (which requires an upgraded ticket). Tickets to the Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic are available as part of a resort package or individually. For more information or to book, visit SwanDolphinFoodandWineClassic.com or call (800)227-1500.

…Away from Walt Disney World but in Orlando, The Florida Mall is holding a "Mall-o-ween" event on October 31, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Its theme is Disney Junior's Vampirina and everyone is invited to come in costume and "be ready for spooktacular fun and surprises," though the fine print does say that Disney Character live appearances will not be part of the event.

The Florida Mall in Orlando celebrates Halloween with Disney Junior's Vampirina theming (as the fine print says "Disney Character live appearances are not part of this event”). Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…As we reported last week DVC extended its beverage tasting series through December. We have posted the details on MousePad. Also note, the price per person for each tasting session is now $40/person (inclusive of tax, a $5 increase from the prior sessions), and all guests must be at least 18 years old to attend, 21 years old to consume the adult beverages. DVC Members may make reservations for a party size up to four per Tasting (including the Member) by calling Member Services at (800)800-9800. Like dining venues around the Resort, the chefs and staff may be able to accommodate certain food allergies, so if this is an issue for you or members of your party, be sure to inquire in advance.

The final beverage of the Liquor Bourbon Tasting is a take on a Moscow Mule: the Kentucky Mule. Each guest was provided the ingredients shown on the card and then talked through the creation of this mixed alcoholic beverage garnished with two lime slices to represent Mickey's ears. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

…Via Napoli and Tutto Italia at Epcot's Italy Pavilion remind us that October is National Pizza and Pasta Month. To celebrate, Via Napoli suggests two of its hand-crafted, wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas: Prosciutto e Melon (a white based pizza featuring fontina cheese, mozzarella, prosciutto, cantaloupe, and arugula), or its new Pizza Bianca (served room temperature featuring pomodoro, prosciutto, arugula, and mozzarella. Tutto Italia, of course, features several authentic Italian pastas from simple classics like Lasagna alla Bolognese or Spaghetti, to unique menu items like Fettuccine Campagnole with arugula and basil pesto, spinach, and burrata cheese, and the Risotto, made with creamy Arborio rice, shrimp, and lemon zest.

Pizza Bianca is available for $8.75 at the Via Napoli Pizza Window during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Photo Courtesy of Patina Restaurant Group.

…And finally, for those (like me) who are more carb- and calorie-conscious, Disney PhotoPass Service is now offering up two new Magic Shots in Magic Kingdom that virtually allow us to enjoy either a Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar (available in Tomorrowland, Frontierland, and Main Street U.S.A.), or a mountainous serving of Dole Whip (in Adventureland). As always, ask the PhotoPass Photographer whether particular Magic Shots are available at a specific photographer's location, and remember that Magic Shots are not available at Character meet and greet locations.

…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 email in the box below.

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Crowd Forecast


"Do more. Wait less."

Save time and money at Walt Disney World. TouringPlans.com can help you avoid falling into the typical tourist pitfalls.

Our Disney World Crowd Calendar shows you the least crowded park to visit every day of the year, customized Touring Plans save you hours in line for Disney's best rides, honest restaurant reviews, how to save on Disney tickets, the best hotel rooms to ask for, and so much more. Everything can be accessed on our site or on Lines - Mobile Wait Times App which also shows to current and estimated wait times for attractions.

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, October 17, 2017 5 / 10
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 5 / 10
Thursday, October 19, 2017 6 / 10
Friday, October 20, 2017 7 / 10
Saturday, October 21, 2017 7 / 10

Check out the Disney World Park Crowd Levels page on TouringPlans.com for park-specific predictions and recommendations on which days to visit and avoid particular parks!

See Disney World crowds for the next 365 days.
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Resort Events

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

2017 Resort Events

  • Star Wars Experiences – Opened December 1, 2015 (ongoing)
  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party – October 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, 27, 29, 31; November 1
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – Opened August 31 - November 13, 2017.
  • Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic – October 27–28, 2017
  • Holidays at Walt Disney World –Starts November 9
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party – November 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 26, 28;
       December 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22
  • Dapper Day Outing (unofficial events) – November 18, 2017 at Magic Kingdom; November 19, 2017 at Epcot
  • Star Wars: Galactic Nights (Disney's Hollywood Studios event – December 16, 2017
  • Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire (The VOID, hyper-reality experience) – Opens December 16, 2017 (unspecified end date)
  • Epcot International Festival of the Holidays (formerly known as Holidays Around the World) – Dates November 19 to December 30
  • Candlelight Processional at Epcot – Dates November 24 to December 30

2018 Resort Events

  • Disney After Hours at Magic Kingdom – January 19, 26 & 30; February 8 & 15; March 1 & 8.
  • Epcot International Festival of the Arts – January 12 to February 19, 2018
  • MouseAdventure (unofficial event) – March 3, 2018. See mouseadventure.com for more information.
  • 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.



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. All 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

  • Splash Mountain – closed for refurbishment.
  • The Hall of Presidents – New show opening "Late 2017."
  • Stitch's Great Escape – closed a "seasonal" basis.


  • Ellen's Energy Adventure at Universe of Energy – Closed August 13, 2017, to make way for a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed attraction in approximately 2021.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • The Great Movie Ride – Closed August 13, 2017, to make way for Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway at a date to be announced.

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 as Terralina Crafted Italian in Fall 2017, a new concept from James Beard award-winner and Top Chef Master Tony Mantuano and Chef Justin Plank.
  • Disney Quest – Closed as of 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.
  • Wolfgang Puck Grand Café – closed its West Side location on August 1, 2017. A new Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill is under construction int Town Center area and is expected to open in 2018.


  • 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.

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

Memory Maker pre-arrival discount

Disney's PhotoPass service provides a discount on Disney Memory Maker pre-arrival packages. For $199 plus tax, Walt Disney World guests can digitally download any photos associated with their Memory Maker account, including photos taken on attractions. The advanced purchase price is $169, a $30 savings. Applicable taxes are charged to all orders.

Purchase must be made more than three days prior to arrival at the Walt Disney World Resort. All sales are final, and not eligible for an exchange or refund.

Travel Discounts for Annual Passholders


For the most up-to-date list of locations offering dining discounts to Annual Passholders, visit this page of DisneyWorld.com. Be aware that dining locations that previously were participating in the 20% discount celebrating the 45th Anniversary (excluding alcoholic beverages, tax, and gratuity), have announced that they will continue to do so through December 23, 2017. Many other dining locations offer Passholders 10% discounts during some or all meal periods (also excluding alcoholic beverages, tax and gratuity). The special 30% discount offered at several dining locations during limited hours has ended.

We have received conflicting information regarding the continuation of merchandise discounts. The latest information on this page of DisneyWorld.com lists discounts at many merchandise locations across Walt Disney World Resort, including many locations that continue to show 20% discounts off regularly priced merchandise. However, we received several reports on October 1, that some locations were now only providing 10% discounts to Passholders. We will seek out clarification for a future Update.

We cannot confirm whether Magic Strollers, "a Disney featured stroller provider," is continuing to honor its $5 discount on stroller rental when staying at a Disney Resort Hotel and using coupon code WDWAP17 to arrange your rental. It is no longer listed on the Passholder website. Check directly with the provider.

Visit the DisneyWorld.com Special Offers page (filtered for Passholders) for information, or call 407-939-7676 to book by phone.

Additional information about available "Passholder Extras" are available here.

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)


  • 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

La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil

Active and retired U.S. Military personnel presenting valid ID can save to 25% on tickets to La Nouba through December 16 for tickets purchased at the theater box office located on the West Side of Disney Springs.

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

Florida Residents can enjoy room rates starting as low as $85/night (plus tax) for standard rooms at Disney's All-Star Resorts, most Sunday through Thursday nights from October 29 to December 9, 2017. Discounts are available at other resorts starting as soon as October 9 through December 9. Visit this page of DisneyWorld.com for availability and pricing, or call your travel agent.

Florida Residents can save on 4 days at the theme parks with a 4-Day Disney Select Ticket. This $55.75 plus tax per day ticket gives you access to one theme park per day for up to 4 days (which do not have to be used consecutively). A 3-Day Disney Select Ticket is also available for $66.34 plus tax per day. Tickets expire 6 months after first use, with the first use on or before December 31, 2018. Proof of Florida Residency is required. More information is available on this page of DisneyWorld.com.

The La Nouba "Florida Resident Family Fun Pack" is back. As its final performance of La Nouba approaches on December, Cirque du Soleil is offering Florida resident ticket deals for its least expensive seats: $96.75 for 3 tickets; $129 for 4 tickets. Offer expires on December 16, 2017 and resident ID is required. Discounts may also be available for premium seat categories. Tickets and information on Cirque Du Soleil's La Nouba webpage.

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

Travel Discounts for Canada Residents

Check disneyparks.ca for the latest offers from Disney.

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

Travel Discounts for U.K. Residents

The website GetWestLondon.co.uk has an updated list of some of the offers available to folks planning ahead to holiday at Walt Disney World Resort from the United Kingdom.

You can see the latest offers for U.K. residents on Disney World's U.K. packages website.

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