Walt Disney World Park Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for December 3 – December 9, 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 member dies at Primeval Whirl | Castaway Ray's celebrates 50,000 served | Disney to sell land at Flamingo Crossings | Construction update | Quick Takes …
[Ed. note: Since I'll be at MouseFest this week, I'm going to do my best to get next Monday's Park Update out on time. There is a possibility that it will either be abbreviated or a day late, but I'll get something out for you next week.]

Cast member dies following injury while working at Primeval Whirl

A cast member was injured last Saturday and died on Thursday after being struck by a ride vehicle and falling at Primeval Whirl at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Karen Price, 63, was reportedly working at the load station for the attraction when she stepped into an area that is off-limits during the operation of the attraction and was struck by one of the ride vehicles. She fell off of a platform and hit her head. Reportedly, Price was alert and talking immediately after the accident, so her head injury was thought to be not serious.

Price's condition turned grave late Wednesday afternoon and she died Thursday.

Primeval Whirl was shut down after the accident, but reopened Sunday morning after a full inspection. The Occupational Safety and Heath Administration is investigating Price's death.

Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Polak told the Orlando Sentinel that "Our sympathies are with the family tonight. We offer them our support during this difficult time."

Walt Disney World has not yet responded to a MousePlanet request for additional safety information regarding cast member procedures at the attraction, whether anyone else working the attraction knew what Price was doing in the danger zone, and any further comment.

Castaway Ray's celebrates 50,000 served

The Disney Cruise Line celebrated another milestone in early November when Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure welcomed its 50,000th guest. The Paparo family from New Jersey was presented with a certificate and gift bag for the occasion, followed by an exclusive training experience with the stingrays.

The milestone comes after just two years of operation for the stingray program at Castaway Cay.

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)!

Disney to sell land at Flamingo Crossings complex

Things are moving forward at the retail, dining, lodging and entertainment complex at the Western Way entrance to Walt Disney World, now known as Flamingo Crossings. Disney's Buena Vista Land Co. (the arm of Walt Disney Imagineering charged with land management of Disney's Florida property) has begun offering land for sale within the 450-acre site.

Flamingo Crossings will be just northwest of the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Note that the Coronado Springs Resort label in this image is down and to the left of the resort's actual location. It should be more in a straight line between Epcot and Disney's Animal Kingdom. Image Disney.

Disney is selling the land instead of leasing it (as it does with the tenants at Downtown Disney and Hotel Plaza Boulevard) because, according to Buena Vista Land Company spokeswoman Andrea Finger, "Flamingo Crossings is a unique project: It will be located outside the gateway, and will include third-party branded businesses, similar to Little Lake Bryan and Crossroads." No decision has been made yet as to how much of the site Disney will retain at full build-out.

Flamingo Crossings will include a shopping/dining/retail district, as well as value-priced hotels. Image Disney.

What is certain, though, is that the Flamingo Crossings property will not be de-annexed from the Reedy Creek Improvement District, unlike the property for the private vacation homes adjacent to the Four Seasons Resort project announced at the same time back in March. While that will give others the right to vote in Reedy Creek elections, it won't make much of a difference, as voting is on the basis of the amount of land owned. At one vote per acre, the 450 acres of Flamingo Crossings are a mere blip compared to the 17,000 acres still owned by Disney.

The project, which will be developed in phases over the next 8-10 years, will eventually feature 4,000–5,000 low- to mid-rise value-priced lodging units and 300,000–500,000 square feet of commercial space. Asked if the planned hotels will receive the same official status/privileges as the Downtown Disney Hotels on Hotel Plaza Boulevard, Finger would only note, "The project is still in the early planning stages."

The "retail village" portion of Flamingo Crossings will be pedestrian-friendly. Image Disney.

"Flamingo Crossings is the latest example of Disney's commitment to creating great places for families to enjoy," said Matt Kelly, vice president of Buena Vista Land Company. "This unique, master-planned destination is part of Disney Parks and Resorts' strategy to generate growth within existing businesses and expand around the central Florida resort."

Asked whether there were any potential tenants/purchasers lined up, Finger noted that it was too early at this point. If you happen to be an interested retail, dining or hotel developer, you can contact Buena Vista Land Company at 407-566-1900.

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:

  • Walt Disney Imagineering has filed another Kim Possible Adventure-related installation, this one for "Epcot WS Interactives – SFX Package."
  • All wire rope and rigging hardware will be replaced in the American Adventure Theater as part of the curtain replacement scheduled for January 7–February 3.
  • The fabric projection screen material in Theaters #1 and #2 of the Universe of Energy Attraction will be replaced.
  • The roof of the One Man's Dream theater building at the Disney-MGM Studios will be replaced.
  • The popcorn cart in Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom will be expanded.
  • New handrails will be installed in the four Magnolia Bend buildings at Port Orleans Riverside Resort.
  • A new stair entrance will be built at Alligator Bayou building #27 at Port Orleans Riverside Resort.
  • A window and door will be replaced at Captain Jack's Restaurant in the Downtown Disney Marketplace.
  • Two new bus shelters will be built at the Downtown Disney Marketplace.

Quick takes …

…A 72-year-old man at the Magic Kingdom with his family slipped and fell outside a restaurant on Thursday and died of his injuries on Friday according to the Orlando Sentinel. The man, whose name was not released, had been taken to a hospital after his fall.

…A new Web site promotes the upcoming Toy Story Mania attractions at both the Disney-MGM Studios (soon to be Disney's Hollywood Studios) and Disney's California Adventure.

…The Luna Park pool complex at the BoardWalk Resort closes to guests starting on January 7 to resurface the pool. Work is expected to be completed by early February. Those staying at the resort will have the privilege of pool hopping to Stormalong Bay pool during the renovation. Thanks to MousePlanet reader Charles for the information.

…Fantasmic will not be performed January 28 – February 1.

…We've finally heard rumblings of the dates for the closure of Nine Dragons for its refurbishment. Expect the Epcot eatery to close April 30 – November 30.

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.
  • Now through Dec. 24. Festival of the Seasons.
  • Now through Dec. 30. Holidays Around the World.
  • Dec. 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • Dec. 1–8. 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: What scale are the giant bowling pin icons at Disney's Pop Century Resort (where you can find me staying most of this week for MouseFest)? Stay tuned to next week's park update for the answer.

The answer to last week's question: "Which two animated characters had their original lead animators return to develop their appearance in 3-D for Mickey's PhilharMagic?", is:

Lumire (Nik Ranieri) and Ariel (Glen Keane).

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 April 30 – November 30 for renovations that include the creation of an exhibition kitchen.

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-November 3, November 11-17 and December 9-15. 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.