Walt Disney World Park Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for December 26, 2007 – January 1, 2008

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

Everest Death | Pop Century rape attempt | Extra holiday dining options | Braves spring training | WDW selected top attraction | Construction update | Quick Takes …
[Ed. note: MousePlanet will not be publishing next Monday or Tuesday as we spend the holiday weekend with our families. Next week's Park Update will run on Wednesday. Have a great holiday weekend!]

Heart condition blamed for man's death riding Expedition Everest

As we reported on last Thursday's MousePlanetWatch Disney News episode of the MouseStation Podcast, 44-year-old Jeffery Chalmers Reeb (misidentified as "Reed" on the podcast as the Sheriff's Office did not correct their press release until after we had recorded the show) of Navarre, FL, died on Tuesday after riding Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom. According to the Orange County Sheriff's Office, Reeb appeared to be conscious 50 seconds before the end of the ride as his photo was taken during the 80-foot, 50-mph drop. However, according to both the Sheriff's Office and Walt Disney World, he was unconscious and unresponsive when the steam donkey ride vehicle pulled into the unload area at around 11:30 a.m.

CPR was administered immediately and a call went out to Reedy Creek Emergency Services, who transported Reeb to Celebration Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Reeb reportedly had no pulse when the Reedy Creek paramedics arrived. The Orange Country Sheriff's Office responded at 12:50 p.m. and noted that they will continue to conduct a routine investigation to determine the cause of death. In a statement, Disney spokesman Jacob DiPietre said that "We offer the family our deepest sympathies and will provide assistance to them during this difficult time."

DiPietre told MousePlanet on Tuesday afternoon that "the ride is currently closed while we reconfirm proper operation of the ride." He further noted that "the State Bureau of Fair Rides Inspection was notified and will be advised of our findings." The attraction reopened later on Tuesday.

At the time, MousePlanet received an unconfirmed report that Reeb had a serious heart condition since age 18, and had been on medication to control the condition since then. Reportedly, he had said on Monday that he wasn't feeling well and had concerns about his condition. As it turned out, Reeb was in fact suffering from dilated cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), and did in fact have a history of cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). The Orange County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that Reeb died of natural causes.

Woman escapes rape attempt at Pop Century

In another story first reported on the podcast, a woman was reportedly assaulted at Disney's Pop Century Resort last Friday night just before 6 p.m. She was walking along a path when she was allegedly shoved to the ground in an area with 4-foot-tall bushes by a man who reached into the pocket of her shorts and grabbed her room key, then attempted to rape her.

There's no word on how the woman got away with her room key, but get away she did. She ran back to her room but was unable to open the door because her card key was bent in the attack. She pounded on the door and screamed until she woke her husband, who was napping inside. The husband called 911 and got a Disney cast member to stay with the woman while he ran out to the pool area to search for the assailant.

Neither the husband nor the Orange Country sheriff's deputies were able locate the attacker, described by the victim as a tall, light-skinned black man, 190 pounds, 40 to 50 years old, with short, clean-cut black or brown hair, and wearing a clean, short-sleeve white shirt with dark pants.

Holiday guests get extra dining options at Magic Kingdom

To help address the huge crowds expected during the holiday season, Disney has added more dining options inside the Magic Kingdom through New Year's Eve.

For breakfast, you can get waffles at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments starting at 7:00 a.m. The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor will start serving coffee, hot cocoa and pastries at 7:00 a.m. Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe will serve breakfast from 8:00-10:30 a.m.

The Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station will actually be open for lunch and dinner starting at 11:00 a.m., and will close at 10:30 p.m. through December 28, at midnight December 29-31, and at 9:00 p.m. January 1-5.

El Pirata y el Perico Restaurante will also be out for lunch daily from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. December 22-January 2, and will even be open for dinner through 8 p.m. December 28-31.

The Diamond Horseshoe Saloon will also serve quick service lunch from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. December 23-January 3, and will serve full-service turkey dinner nightly from 5-9 p.m. December 24-31.

There will also be some extra outdoor foods kiosks to soak up any extra crowds.

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!

Atlanta Braves spring training seven weeks away

The Atlanta Braves return to Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex this spring for the 11th time. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 14, the position players following on February 19. Full-squad workouts begin the next day.

There's only a week to start getting in shape, as the team's first game, a traditional matchup against the University of Georgia, takes place on February 27. The Braves then have 15 home games during their stay, beginning February 29 against the Los Angeles Dodgers and wrapping up their pre-season on March 27 against the New York Mets. Season tickets, three- and five-game mini-packs and group tickets are all available now by calling 407-WDW-GAME (407-939-4263) or at disneysports.com . Individual game tickets go on sale on January 5 at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster online or by phone at 407-839-3900 (or your local number). Tickets run from $14.50 (general admission lawn seats) to $23.50 (lower reserved).

The Braves' full home schedule is as follows:

  • Wednesday, Feb. 27 - Univ. of Georgia (exhib.) - 1:05 p.m.
  • Friday, Feb. 29 - Los Angeles Dodgers - 1:05 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 2 - Houston Astros - 1:05 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 4 - Philadelphia Phillies - 1:05 p.m.
  • Friday, March 7 - Detroit Tigers - 1:05 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 8 - Houston Astros *SS - 1:05 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 9 - St. Louis Cardinals - 1:05 p.m.
  • Monday, March 10 - St. Louis Cardinals - 1:05 p.m.
  • Tuesday, March 11 - Washington Nationals - 7:05 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 12 - Cleveland Indians - 7:05 p.m.
  • Saturday, March 15 - Tampa Bay Rays *SS - 1:05 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 20 - Detroit Tigers - 7:05 p.m.
  • Friday, March 21 - Cleveland Indians - 1:05 p.m.
  • Sunday, March 23 - Houston Astros - 1:05 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 26 - Washington Nationals - 1:05 p.m.
  • Thursday, March 27 - New York Mets - 1:05 p.m.

WDW world's top theme park/attraction

Walt Disney World was selected as the world's leading theme park/attraction by the World Travel Awards, while the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau won for the world's leading tourist & convention bureau. Orlando was chosen as North America's leading destination and the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin was chosen as both North America's leading conference hotel and North America's leading resort.

The World Travel Awards have been presented since 1994 to the best in the world's travel and tourism industry based on a vote of travel professionals from 167,000 travel and tourism organizations in over 160 countries.

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 in the last week:

  • Work on the Kim Possible Interactive Adventure at Epcot continues, as permit applications "to install electrical infrastructure for interactive game" have been filed for locations at the Japan, France and United Kingdom pavilions. In addition, a permit for "Germany Interactive" has also been filed. Along with the permits that we reported on November 19 for Mexico, Norway and China, the only pavilions that we haven't spotted permits for are Italy, the American Adventure, Canada and Morocco.
  • The Monsters, Inc. meet-and-greet at the Disney-MGM Studios (just two weeks from becoming Disney's Hollywood Studios) will be getting new signage and a new door.
  • Imagineering has submitted a permit application for a new widening package for Mickey Avenue at the Studios in preparation for its conversion to Pixar Place.
  • Permits have been filed for installation of new showsets at Playhouse Disney Live at the Studios.
  • The walkway at the load/unload area of Kali River Rapids will be replaced with a new surface of fiberglass grating with anti-skid coating. Handrails will also be replaced.
  • City Hall at the Magic Kingdom is slated to get a new roof.
  • Three new drinking fountains will be installed at Blizzard Beach.
  • The Best Friends pet resort, at just under 3 acres, is slated to be built across from – and with an entrance between – the Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter Resorts.
  • The bus stops at loops 1100, 1200 and 1300 at the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will be rebuilt.
  • The hot and cold water systems at the Contemporary Resort will get new CPVC piping. The resort's feature pool and jacuzzi will also be getting new chair lifts.
  • Building 8 at the Grand Floridian Resort will be getting an upgraded control system for its elevators.
  • Rotten wood decking at the Beach Club Resort's porte cochere is slated for replacement.
  • Permits have been filed for the construction of the new cast member Health & Wellness Center, which will be built off of Backstage Lane at the Epcot Red Lot.
  • Soil remediation permits have been filed for the Flamingo Crossings development.

Quick takes …

…The special New Year's Eve edition of the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks will now be shown December 29-31, a night earlier than the previously-announced December 30 and 31 only.

…We're hearing a rumor that the rumored expansion of the Pirate & Princess Party dates will be taking place, but have not yet seen it confirmed on the Disney web site yet. In addition to the previously-announced dates of January 21, 26, 29, February 2, 5, 9, 14, 22, 26, March 1, 6, 11, and 14, anticipated additional dates are April 1, 4, 6, 11, 16, 23, 29, May 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 21, 26, 31, and June 4.

…WDW web site now says "Disney's Hollywood Studios". The signage at the Animation archway and the Earffel Tower have lost their Disney-MGM logos, and the new name should start going up in another week or so.

…The Gaylord Palms has a special offer for theme park passholders. Passholders for Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Cypress Gardens can receive a free child's admission to ICE! for every adult admission purchased between now and January 3. The offer is only valid for admission before 2 p.m., and only at the box office. See gaylordpalms.com/passholders for more information.

Minnie's Country House has had its January 1–February 1 refurbishment removed from the current schedule. Maybe Mickey did such a great job maintaining it for Minnie that it doesn't need major work after all?

…Disney has named 11-year company veteran Ken Potrock as Senior Vice President of Global Sports Enterprises for Disney Parks & Resorts. Potrock will head Disney's worldwide sports operations, including Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. Those responsibilities had previously been handled by Reggie Williams, who retired as Vice President for Sports Attractions at Thanksgiving to focus on rehabilitating a right leg that never recovered from a knee replacement in 2005. Potrock had serving as Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, in which capacity he held sway over marketing for Disneyland, Walt Disney World, the Disney Cruise Line, Disney Vacation Club and other businesses.

…Recently, 28 International Program cast members from Spain and Germany visited Rollins College for a cultural exchange with students studying Spanish and German. The event, at the Rollins campus International House, let students studying Spanish and German to interact with natives from those countries while those foreign cast members got the opportunity to learn from English speakers, all in a social setting.

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. 30. Holidays Around the World.
  • 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.
  • Jan. 12. Walt Disney World Half-Marathon.
  • Jan. 13. Walt Disney World Marathon. [Read our WDW Marathon Guide.]
  • Jan. 18-20. College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship.
  • Jan. 21, 26, 29, Feb. 2, 5, 9, 14, 22, 26, March 1, 6, 11, 14. Disney's Pirate & Princess Party.
  • Jan. 25. Mickey's Pin Trading Night at Contemporary Resort.

Walt Disney World trivia question of the week

This week's question: In 1988, magician Doug Henning was a consultant for the creation of which Walt Disney World "attraction"? Stay tuned to next week's park update for the answer.

The answer to last week's question: "How many tractor-trailer truckloads of decorations does it take to decorate Walt Disney World?", is:

150 tractor-trailer truckloads of decorations adorning 22 resorts, 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, Downtown Disney and more.

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

  • Splash Mountain – closed for refurbishment January 1–February 15.
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures – closed for refurbishment January 28–February 15.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment February 24–March 1.


  • Spaceship Earth – closed for refurbishment July 9 – February 18. Currently in soft opening status; may close at any time for any (or no) reason.
  • 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.
  • Nine Dragons – closes April 30 – November 30 for renovations that include the creation of an exhibition kitchen.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage! – closed for refurbishment, including the replacement of the primary characters in the show, January 3–27.
  • 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. Jambo House construction is expected to be complete by January 29, 2008.
  • 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.
  • 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. 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.

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.