Walt Disney World Park Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for March 3 – March 9, 2008

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

News and Views

Kingdom Tower | CMO finalists announced | A personal appeal | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Next DVC resort has name, legal clearance

Last Tuesday, the Orlando Sentinel broke the story that paperwork has been filed to officially designate the building under construction next to Disney's Contemporary Resort as a Disney Vacation Club (DVC) property called "Kingdom Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort." The permit granted by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation gives Disney approval to begin sales of time share units in the 15-story tower that will not be completed until late next year. The resort will be the seventh at Walt Disney World and the ninth overall. Two other resorts are being built off-site: a new wing of the Grand Californian Hotel at the Disneyland Resort and a new development at Ko Olina on Oahu, Hawaii.

As noted in the Mark My Words blog and on the weekly MousePlanetWatch Disney News episode of the MouseStation Podcast last week, we first reported the likelihood of a DVC resort being built on the spot back in late 2005 when we got word that the tennis center at the Contemporary would be closing down to make way for the resort. While the rumored site for the DVC resort briefly moved around to the South Garden Wing and the STOLport, the location became pretty much confirmed in mid-2006 with the discovery of architectural drawings of the resort in its current form, at its current site.

In late 2006, we found the water management permits for the construction compound at the STOLport (the likely source of the STOLport DVC resort rumors), and the permits for the resort itself were discovered in early 2007.

We asked for a comment on all upcoming DVC resort project, especially Kingdom Tower. DVC spokewoman Diane Hancock would only tell us that "The Villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa will open in fall 2009. The project in Ko Olina is scheduled to open in 2011. We don't have any other announcements to make at this time."

During a DVC-sponsored tour of the Disneyland Dream Suite on Saturday, MousePlanet's Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix asked about an official announcement of the project and was told "We're pregnant, but we're not telling people just yet."

With these non-denial responses in hand, it's ever more certain that there is no possible room for understanding, and this exciting new prospect for DVC members is close at hand. However, it's unlikely that Disney will begin selling it until most of the Kidani Village units at the Animal Kingdom Villas (AKV) are sold. After all, AKV is supposed to be a marquee property, not one to have its remaining inventory sold off at a steep discount as was done with Hilton Head and Vero Beach.

The plot plan shows the location of the resort and its recreation facilities. Click on the diagram for a larger image.

This will be the first DVC resort to be located on the monorail line, and the closest yet to the Magic Kingdom. While DVC points will remain a constant price for all locations, it would be expected that 281 rooms at the Kingdom Tower will cost more points than other resorts. However, at least at the bottom end of the scale, that may not be the case.

While the full points table has not yet been released, the minimum daily cost for each accommodation has been included in the documents. The lowest-priced studio will be 16 points per night, which is equal to the Saratoga Springs Resort less than the 18 points at BoardWalk, Beach Club, Wilderness Lodge and Vero Beach Resorts. One-bedroom units will start at 39 points, more than the 36-point minimum for the next-highest BoardWalk, Beach Club, Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Villas.

Two-bedroom units will start at 54 points per night, well above the next-highest BoardWalk, Beach Club and Wilderness Lodge's 46 points. Three-bedroom Grand Villas will be a relative bargain at 96 points, well above the 65 points for Old Key West and slightly above Saratoga Springs' 90, but still below Animal Kingdom Villas' 99 and BoardWalk Villas' 100 points per night.

Of course, the above point values could be for a limited number of rooms with certain views at a very limited time of year, with the other view and times of year bringing much higher prices than the top cost at other resorts.

According to the paperwork, the two-story Grand Villa will feature a dining table that seats ten, a living room downstairs with a smaller living room upstairs. A portion of the downstairs living room will be open to above. While there is a full guest bathroom on the main floor, making four full baths in the villa, the plans do not seem to indicate any sleeper sofas or chairs in either living room. The master bedroom will have a king-size bed, and the other two bedrooms will each have two beds. Each bedroom will have its own small balcony, with another small balcony off of the kitchen and dining area. There will be flat-panel TVs in all three bedrooms and both living rooms. As near as we can tell, there will be windows the entire height of the open living room.

The two-story Grand Villa has an impressive floor plan that should be very comfortable for large groups. Click on the diagram for a larger image.

Two-bedroom units will be the equivalent of one-bedroom units attached to studios, and will feature similar dining arrangements to the BoardWalk and Beach Club, with a booth-type table and additional chairs that can be pulled over from the kitchen counter. The living room will have both a queen sleeper sofa and a sleeper chair, which will make the capacity of the one-bedroom unit five people. The master bedroom will have a king-size bed, while the studio bedroom will have a queen bed and a double-size sleeper sofa. Each bedroom will have its own balcony. The master bedroom's balcony will also be reachable from the living room. Both bedrooms and the living room will have flat-panel TVs. There will be two full bathrooms in the one-bedroom unit, three full bathrooms in the two-bedroom. Oddly, the kitchenette and the vanity will share the same galley space in the studio. The living room will have a window wall.

The two-story Grand Villa has an impressive floor plan that should be very comfortable for large groups. Click on the diagram for a larger image.

The resort will also have a 180-person-capacity swimming pool with a 104-foot-long, curving water slide. The pool will have a maximum depth of 4 feet, 11 inches. Two hot tubs and a Mickey-head-shaped kiddie pool and wet play area also appear on the plans. Two tennis courts will be in the same general vicinity of the original courts of the Contemporary's tennis center. Two shuffleboard and two bocce ball courts will be located in the courtyard of the C-shaped building. There will also be a picnic area with two tables, barbecues and a 490-square-foot covered area.

A new swimming pool, for instance, will be large enough for 180 people; go as deep as 4 feet, 11 inches; and feature two hot tubs and a 104-foot-long water slide. There will be two tennis courts, two shuffleboard courts and two boccie ball courts. A barbecue pavilion will have about 490 square feet of covered area and a pair of picnic tables.

All of the official documentation is available for download at both the MouseOwners and DVCNews sites. Thanks to Dirk at MouseOwners and Tim at DVCNews for helping out.

CMO finalists announced

The decision has been made, and the top 20 have been winnowed down to 10. The finalists in the Disney Chief Magic Official have been named, and one MousePlanet reader is in the finals. Check out Justin's video, as well as all of the others, and vote for your favorite. Voting ends at 11:59:59 p.m. on March 22! Patrick Hurd of the A Window to the Magic Podcast is also a finalist.

Enter to win a signed autographed key set, designed especially for release of 101 Dalmatians: Platinum Edition DVD!

Photo © Disney.

MousePlanet invites you to enter to win a signed autographed key set, designed especially for release of 101 Dalmatians: Platinum Edition DVD! They are signed by Lisa Davis (voice of Anita) and Alice Davis (wife of Marc Davis, Cruella's animator). One lucky MousePlanet reader will win one of these very special prizes, courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.

No purchase necessary to enter or to win. To enter, send your:

City / State / Zip Code

via e-mail to 101dalmatianscontest@mouseplanet.com

Entries must be received by 11:59pm Saturday, March 8, 2008. One entry per person - duplicate entry will invalidate all entries. Winner will be selected at random from all elligible entries received. Winner will be announced on Monday, March 9 2008 in the Disneyland Park Update on MousePlanet.com. Prize will be sent via USPS Priority Mail to the mailing address provided in the winning entry.

A personal appeal, for the third year

On April 27, I'll be walking to raise money for the March of Dimes again. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Last year, through the generosity of friends, family, co-workers and MousePlanet readers, we managed to raise $4,025. This year, let's beat that. Let's see if we can raise $5,000. I think we can. For more information, or to donate, go here.

Construction Update

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


  • A landscaping and irrigation package, as well as a graphics package, has been permitted for the Kidani Village expansion of the Animal Kingdom Villas.
  • A new metal frame wall is being built and a new exterior door is being installed in the existing luggage room at the Caribbean Beach Resort's Airline Check-in area at the Customs House.
  • New air conditioning has been installed in the Cirque du Soleil theater building.
  • Imagineering has filed two permits, one for a Carousel of Progress poster and one for a World Showcase Interactive Trailer Package, probably for the Kim Possible interactive adventure still being prepared.

Quick takes …

…A power outage that affected millions across Florida had a relatively minimal impact on Walt Disney World. Parts of the All-Star Resorts, Port Orleans Resort and Old Key West Resort as well as part of the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Convention Center and a few backstage areas all lost power briefly. The outage itself lasted approximately 19 minutes, but then it took up to another 10 minutes to bring power back on in all locations.

…The Contemporary and Polynesian Resorts have joined the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and the Grand Floridian Resort in the exclusive AAA four-diamond ratings club for 2008.

…We're hearing that the bridge between Liberty Square and the Hub is going to need somewhat extensive repairs to strengthen it, and that the parade route may be altered to run in a fashion similar to Disneyland Park's parade route. Instead of going from Frontierland through Liberty Square and then around the hub, the parade may need to kick off at the gate next to Mickey's Toontown Fair, go around the Mad Tea Party, then over the bridge between Cosmic Ray's and Cinderella Castle. This is all unconfirmed at this point, but we are hearing it from several sources. If anybody else knows more on this subject, please let us know!

…The 2009 Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge has sold out, and the Half Marathon is now 85 percent full. Register soon, or risk being shut out!

…This is your last week to catch the Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade at Disney's Hollywood Studios, as its last performance will be on Sunday. The Block Party Bash Parade will begin its run next Friday.

Blizzard Beach will return from its annual refurbishment on Sunday.

…The Reedy Creek Fire Department has replaced its original fire station with a brand-new Station #3. The original station, located behind the Magic Kingdom toward the east side, was built in 1982. The new station, on the west side of the park toward the Grand Floridian, has many upgrades to the infrastructure.

…SeaWorld has announced that it is going to open a complex in Dubai that will feature a Busch Gardens park, a SeaWorld park, an Aquatica water park and a Discovery Cove luxury animal-encounter park. They join Universal Studios in building in the Arab nation.

…Walt Disney World has stepped down from its lead sponsor position on the Florida Classic, the annual football game between Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman University each November. However, Disney's ESPN network announced last Monday at the same time that the annual Labor Day weekend MEAC/SWAC Challenge will be held at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Both games are between historically black colleges. It's uncertain yet as to whether Disney will sponsor the MEAC/SWAC game, but it would not be surprising.



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

  • March 1, 6, 11, 14, April 1, 4, 6, 11, 16, 23, May 2, 9, 16, 21, 26, 31, June 4. Mickey's Pirate & Princess Party.
  • February 27 - March 29. Atlanta Braves Training Camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.
  • March 7-9. UCA National All Star Cheerleading Championship.
  • March 8. National Kidney Foundation 5K.
  • March 9. Last performance of the Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade.
  • March 14. First performance of the Block Party Bash parade.
  • March 14, 15 and 17. Pleasure Island goes green for St. Patrick's Day.
  • March 15. Off to Never Land cel release.
  • March 19 ? June 1. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. [See our Park Guide Page.]
  • Apr. 18, 19, 25, 26. Disney Grad Nite.
  • April 26?27. USASF Cheerleading & Dance Worlds.



Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom


  • Tutto Italia Ristorante – is now open, but will close in the spring to be completely remodeled, and will reopen in the fall under yet another new name.
  • The Wonders of Life pavilion – has again closed as such, and most likely will only be used as a Festival Center until a new sponsor is found.
  • Nine Dragons – closes April 30 – November 30 for renovations that include the creation of an exhibition kitchen.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • 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.
  • Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade – ends March 9.
  • Block Party Bash Parade – begins March 14.
  • Mickey Avenue – closed through spring for installation of the Toy Story Mania attraction and related theming.
  • &quotAmerican Idol" – under construction in the soundstage that formerly hosted Superstar Television and Doug Live!. Scheduled to open in late 2008.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known current refurbishments.


  • 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 now complete.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – Feature pool closed for renovation January 7&ndashmid-September. Temporary &quotchild-sized" slides will be added to the quiet pools in the Jamaica and Barbados Villages while the main pool is closed.
  • Coronado Springs Resort – One side of the Jaguar slide at the main feature pool will be closed for rehab March 31 ? April 30. The pool will remain open during the work.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Work continues on the refurbishment of the main building.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – Doubloon Lagoon feature pool closed for renovations January 28 through mid-March. Resort guests can take a shuttle to Port Orleans Riverside Resort to use the Ole' Man Island pool at during this time, as well as using the quiet pools.

Water Parks

  • Blizzard Beach – closed for annual refurbishment January 6 – March 8.


  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays.
  • T-Rex Cafe – reportedly opens in Downtown Disney in late 2008.



Current Discounts & Promotions

Orlando Fun Tickets offering 5 days for the price of 3

For a limited time, MousePlanet discount ticket partner Orlando Fun Tickets is currently offering a free upgrade to a 5-day Park Hopper pass when you purchase a 3-day Park Hopper. Check out the special offer or any of the other great prices on tickets at OrlandoFunTickets.com!

Passholder, Florida Resident discounts available through March 6

Annual Passholders and Florida residents can take advantage of discounted room rates from now through March 6. From now through February 13, with the exception of Martin Luther King weekend, passholders and Florida residents can stay at value resorts for as low as $49 per night, moderate resorts for as little as $99 per night, or a deluxe villa resort starting at $149 per night. (All rates in this article do not include tax.) Deluxe resorts are also available. Passholders should use booking code FHJ, while Florida residents should use code FHN.

Rates are a bit higher for stays most Sunday through Thursday nights from February 18 through March 6. Value resorts run $79 per nights, moderates are $139 per night and deluxe villas are $249 per night. Passholders use booking code FIE, Florida residents use code FIU.

Note that the number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. No group rates or other discounts apply. Adult Annual Passes or proof of Florida residency must be shown at check-in.

In addition, from now through February 29 Florida residents can get a Disney Play 4 Days Pass for $34 off the normal price. The pass gives you four admissions to any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks, one park per day, for $125 plus tax. The pass is valid for six months from first use.

The Disney Play 4 Days Pass is available for purchase by phone at 407-WDW-4DAYS (407-939-4329). They're also available at Walt Disney World theme park ticket windows and Resort hotel locations, Florida AAA offices and Florida Disney Stores. Proof of Florida residency is required.

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.