Walt Disney World Park Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for November 26 – December 2, 2007

Go directly to: News & Views | Coming Soon | Trivia of the Week | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions | Park Hours/Park Events/Entertainment Schedule

News and Views

Cast members in diabetes study | Disney: dismiss Mission Space suit | NC State wins Old Spice Classic | New state gambling agreement | Weiss to receive honor | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Disney cast members to participate in diabetes study

Walt Disney World will be working with the Florida Health Care Coalition and the University of Florida to conduct a year-long study of diabetes in cast members at the resort. Up to 1,000 cast members (800 with diabetes and 200 with pre-diabetes, at risk for the disease but not officially meeting the criteria) will participate in the study.

Primary care physicians for participating cast members will consult with endocrinologists from the University of Florida in the monitoring and treatment of the condition. The study hopes to find better ways to identify and treat others suffering from, or at risk for, diabetes.

Several external partners including The University of Florida College of Medicine, Florida Hospital, Cognoscenti Health Institute and other health care organizations will provide clinical services and oversight for the study, which will be conducted in accordance with American Diabetes Association guidelines.

Cast members will have the opportunity to voluntarily participate in the study, which will run throughout 2008. Those selected will receive a $200 cash incentive. All state and federal privacy laws will apply, and will protect the identities and personal information of those participating.

The study, which is being funded by six major pharmaceutical manufacturers (Sanofi Aventis, Abbott, AstraZeneca, Merck, Novo Nordisk, and Daiichi Sankyo) is being conducted with several local and national health care organizations, including Florida Health Care Coalition, University of Florida College of Medicine, Florida Hospital, Cigna Health Insurance, Cognoscenti Health Institute, Orlando Behavioral Health, and PacifiCare Behavioral Health. Reports will be produced in early 2009 by the University of Florida and Florida Health Care Coalition teams.

Disney files for dismissal of Mission: Space lawsuit

The Walt Disney Company has asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit Environmental Tectonics Corporation (ETC) filed against it in 2003 over work on the Mission: Space attraction at Epcot. In the suit, ETC alleged that Disney disclosed confidential information about the ride and took credit for ETC's work.

Disney attorney Laurence Shiekman, representing the company at the hearing in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, insisted that ETC has not shown that it was harmed by Disney in any way.

ETC claims that, when Disney took over the work on the attraction in November 2001 due to ETC's inability to finish the work on time or within budget, Disney disclosed confidential information to some of the 20 subcontractors who helped Disney complete the attraction. However, none of the information sent to the subcontractors has been identified as confidential.

NC State wins nail-biter at Wide World of Sports

With two clutch-free throws by Gavin Grant with one second remaining, North Carolina State University upset 19th-ranked Villanova 69-68 to win the second annual Old Spice Classic at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. Third through eighth place went to George Mason, South Carolina, 20th-ranked Kansas State, Rider (the MAAC representative), University of Central Florida and Penn State.

The tournament, run under the auspices of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) and broadcast on ESPNU and ESPN2, was won by the Arkansas Razorbacks last year in its inaugural running.

Next year will see Gonzaga, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Siena (the MAAC representative), Tennessee, and Wichita State vie for the trophy in the three-round tourney over Thanksgiving weekend.

Are you coming to MouseFest?

We're just a month away from MouseFest, and plans are firming up! We've had loads of people RSVP, but there's room for plenty more! For more information about MousePlanet's events at MouseFest, check out our MouseFest events page (link) or see who's announced that they're coming on the sticky threads on our MousePad discussion forums (link)!

Orlando tourist locations concerned about new gambling agreement

A new gaming compact signed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe of Florida will allow the tribe to begin offering blackjack, baccarat and Las Vegas-style slot machines at its Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, just an hour from Orlando. The Florida state House of Representatives is suing to try to fight the compact, however.

Tourist attractions in Orlando, including Walt Disney World, don't want the high-stakes gambling so nearby, partly because of the competition for tourist dollars and partly because its proximity would perhaps allow the adults-only environment to encroach on the family-friendly image of the Orlando area.

We'll have to wait and see how it turns out.

Weiss receiving honor from Junior Achievement

Al Weiss, President of Worldwide Operations for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, will be honored by Junior Achievement of Central Florida with the 2007 Spirit of Achievement Award on Wednesday as three others are inducted into the Mid-Florida Business Hall of Fame. The award is presented to a local business leader who, through daily activities, sets an example for the business leaders of tomorrow. The recipient is to personify a blend of personal, business and civic accomplishment, consistent with the goals of the free enterprise system.

Weiss is following in the footsteps of former Walt Disney Attractions Chairman Dick Nunis, who received the award in 1992. Four Disney representatives have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Walt and Roy Disney (both posthumously), in 1982, Bob Allen in 1988, and Nunis in 1999.

Menus wanted!

Want to help MousePlanet upgrade our park guides? We're looking to add menu information for all restaurants to our Walt Disney World Park Guide (link). Send photos or scans of menus (no fair copying from other Web sites) to menus@mouseplanet.com (link). Please note that there is a 5MB limit on total attachments in a single email.

Construction update

This week's listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County was very light in the last week:

  • The existing floor tile in the lobby of the main building of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is going to be removed and replaced by brand new marble flooring.
  • Hot water systems at the Sago Cay building at Disney's Grand Floridian Hotel & Spa will be replaced, and new ceiling access panels and flow control pumps will be installed, as well.

Quick takes …

…"May" and "Flower," the National Thanksgiving Turkeys, safely arrived in Florida last week and rode in the Thanksgiving Day parade before heading off to their temporary quarters in the back yard of Mickey's Country House in Mickey's Toontown Fair to spend the season. They'll then head off to live out their lives at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

…Walt Disney World will be installing an additional 200 Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) across the resort. Thousands of cast members have been trained in how to use them.

…The dates for the curtain replacement at The American Adventure appear to be set for January 7 to February 3.

…The changeover of the cast of characters at Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage! will take place right after the new year, with the attraction closed January 2 to 27 for changes to the sets.

…The Journey Into Narnia: Creating The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe walkthrough attraction will be closed for refurbishment from January 2 to May 23. It is expected that this work will also involve a changeover to support the second Narnia movie, Prince Caspian, which opens on May 16.

Get your MousePlanet gear!

The MousePlanet.com store is now open for business (link)! You can get shirts, mugs, hats and even a Teddy Bear! Check it out and show your MousePlanet pride!

Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.
Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

Coming soon

  • Now through Jan. 6, 2008. Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
  • Now through Jan. 6, 2008. Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade.
  • Nov. 25, 27, 29, 30, Dec. 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • Nov. 23 – Dec. 24. Festival of the Seasons.
  • Nov. 23 – Dec. 30. Holidays Around the World.
  • Nov. 30, Dec. 1,2. Filming for the Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade.
  • Dec. 2 – 8. Pop Warner Super Bowl.
  • Dec. 2 – 10. MouseFest 2007 (unofficial event).
  • Dec. 4. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End special release event.
  • Dec. 7-8. Peter and the Secret of Rundoon book signing.
  • Dec. 15. A Royal Carousel collection release.
  • Dec. 15. Part of Your World cel release.
  • Dec. 21. Mickey's Pin Trading Night at Contemporary Resort.
  • Dec. 31. Pleasure Island New Year's Eve.
  • Dec. 31. New Year's Eve at Cirque du Soleil.
  • Dec. 31. Atlantic Dance Hall New Year's Eve.
  • Dec. 16, 2007 – Jan. 2, 2008. DVC members may not pool-hop on these dates.

Walt Disney World trivia question of the week

This week's question: Which two animated characters had their original lead animators return to develop their appearance in 3-D for Mickey's PhilharMagic?? Stay tuned to next week's park update for the answer.

The answer to last week's question: "How much produce grown at The Land pavilion is served in Walt Disney World restaurants each year?", is:

More than 30 tons of fruits and vegetables.

Do you have a trivia question that you'd like to share? If we choose to use your question, we'll give you credit in the Update. Email us here.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom


  • Spaceship Earth – closed for refurbishment July 9 – February 18.
  • American Adventure – closed for refurbishment, including replacement of the stage curtain and related tapestry and hardware, January 7 – February 3.
  • Tutto Italia Ristorante – is now open, but will close in the spring of 2008 to be completely remodeled, and will reopen in fall 2008 under yet another new name.
  • The Wonders of Life pavilion – has again closed as such, perhaps forever and perhaps just until Thanksgiving weekend.
  • Nine Dragons – closes in early 2008 for renovations that include the creation of an exhibition kitchen. It is expected to reopen in fall 2008.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • Voyage of The Little Mermaid – closed for refurbishment December 10–14.
  • Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage! – closed for refurbishment, including the replacement of the primary characters in the show, January 2–27.
  • Journey Into Narnia: Creating The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – closed for refurbishment and likely conversion to a Prince Caspian theme, January 2 – May 23.
  • Mickey Avenue – closed through at least next spring for installation of the Toy Story Mania attraction and related theming.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known current refurbishments.


  • All-Star Sports Resort – all buildings will be renovated between June 2007 and February 2008.
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – construction of the Kidani Village annex building for the Disney Vacation Club's Animal Kingdom Villas is expected to take until spring 2009.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – feature pool closed for renovation January 7–mid-September, 2008. Temporary "child-sized" slides will be added to the quiet pools in the Jamaica and Barbados Villages while the main pool is closed.
  • Coronado Springs Resort – Jaguar water slide closed for refurbishment from November 26 – December 14. The Dig Site feature pool and all quiet pools will remain open during the refurbishment.
  • T-Rex Cafe – reportedly opens in Downtown Disney in late 2008.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed for annual refurbishment October 28 – January 5.
  • Blizzard Beach – closed for annual refurbishment January 6 – March 8.


  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays. No performances November 25–27. Will hold special performances on New Year's Eve.

Park events are now found in the monthly Park Hours/Park Events/Entertainment Schedule pages

Current Discounts & Promotions

Hotel Royal Plaza offers discounts to MousePlanet readers

MousePlanet sponsor Hotel Royal Plaza, in the Downtown Disney resort area, has enhanced its deal for MousePlanet readers. From now through the end of the year, anyone booking their stay through the MousePlanet Web site has been able to receive discounted rates up to 20 percent off on all room types. Now, for a limited time, you can get even more! The discounted rates now include free breakfast for two in the Giraffe Caf!. Plus children 10 and under always eat breakfast for free! (Two children 10 and under eat free from the kids menu when accompanied by an adult dining from the regular menu.)

The completely-remodeled 394-room resort is located on Hotel Plaza Boulevard, just a few minutes' walk from Downtown Disney. Bus service to all Walt Disney World theme parks is included with your stay. Their Giraffe Caf restaurant, Giraffe Tavern sports bar, Marketessen deli-style caf and Sips Pool Bar are ready to serve you.

We'd like to invite you to try their hospitality!

Passholder, Florida resident discounts announced through end of the year

Disney has released discounted room rates for passholders and Florida residents for the end of September through md-December. Discounts are available for select resorts for most nights from September 30 through December 23. (The nights of November 21-24 and November 30-December 7 are excluded at non-DVC resorts, most likely due to Thanksgiving weekend and the Pop Warner Super Bowl invasion, while only the Thanksgiving dates are blocked at the DVC resorts.) There are two effective rate periods for this discount, with September 30-October 3, November 25-29, and December 8-19 carrying passholder rates of $59 per night in value resorts and $164 per night in a DVC studio. The remaining dates in the promotion period (except for the nights of November 21-24, which have no discounts due to Thanksgiving weekend) have nightly passholder rates starting at $79 for values and $194 for DVC studios. Florida resident rates are $5 higher than passholder rates.

Minimum stay requirements apply for Friday and Saturday arrivals. All rates can be booked up until the date of arrival. Passholders and Florida residents can book via your respective Web sites, by calling your travel agent (Small World Vacations is MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel provider) or by calling 407-560-7277 for passholders or 407-560-7722 for Florida residents.

An interesting twist on this deal is that, for certain check-in dates, you can get a Disney Dining Card with $20-$100 per room with your minimum 2-night reservation. This perk is available for stays with check-in dates between October 21 to November 3, November 11 to 17 and December 9 to 15. The card can be used toward food & beverage only, and not toward merchandise.

Rooms available at these rates are very limited, and they're going quickly!

For ticket prices, park hours, and entertainment schedules, please go here.

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