Walt Disney World Park Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for May 19 – May 25, 2008

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

News and Views

Toy Story Mania | Completely Green | Passholder rates for summer | Rumor mill | Olszewski event | Quick Takes …

Toy Story Mania a big hit with fans

Following a weekend of previews for annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members, a press event on Wednesday, and the start of sneak previews over the weekend, Toy Story Mania is getting positive reviews from all who come off of it.

The attraction was closed to the public on Thursday and Friday, but was open periodically on Saturday and Sunday following additional tweaks to the software. The attraction is expected to be open intermittently during its test-and-adjust period between now and its official grand opening on May 31. The attraction is officially called Toy Story Midway Mania, but the marketing department is using Toy Story Mania to make it easier for people to remember.

MousePlanet will have continuing coverage of the attraction this week. Jeff Kober has an article today about the attraction itself, and tomorrow's MouseStation podcast will feature an interview with Imagineer Kevin Rafferty.

All resorts now completely green

Walt Disney World achieved its goal of having all of its Florida resorts certified as Green Lodging resorts in April, with the certification of the Yacht & Beach Clubs. All 23 resorts at Walt Disney World, plus Disney's Vero Beach Resort, have now received the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Green Lodging Program designation.

"This is a milestone achievement for the program, and Walt Disney World Resort has been a part of the program since its inception," said DEP Secretary Michael Sole. "With each new designation of a property in Florida, we are conserving our natural resources while at the same time strengthening the state’s economy."

Disney began their certification process in 2004, when the BoardWalk Inn was the first hotel in Florida to receive the Green Lodging designation.

"Disney’s commitment to conservation began with Walt Disney himself more than 50 years ago," said Jerry Montgomery, senior vice president of Conservation & Environmental Sustainability for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. "Our participation in Florida’s Green Lodging Program demonstrates our company’s continued dedication to resource conservation which translates into sound business practices and positive experiences for our guests."

A monorail glides past the DVC resort under construction next to the Contemporary Resort. Apparently, the current proposed name is now the Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The curving fourth-floor walkway now extends all the way from the new resort to the observation deck at the Contemporary. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Lines have already been drawn to show workmen where to cut the observation deck in order to attach the walkway. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Columns stand by the area that will eventually be the site of the resort's porte cochere. Toward the shores of Bay Lake is what may be a restaurant. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The top of the resort is visible from within the park, rising behind Tomorrowland. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


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!

Passholder rates for summer

A number of readers wrote last week that I had neglected to post the passholder rates announced a week and a half ago. I did miss adding them to the Park Update, though I will note that—as with previous special rates—they were posted on my blog the morning that they were released. Here they are, for those who don't read my blog:

The booking codes for phone reservations are:

  • Room-only reservations – FJY
  • Reservations with the Disney Dining Plan – ADS

Note that Small World agents have run into difficulty with the ADS code for phone reservations with dining, but have found an alternate code to use. If the code doesn't work for you, try code CSS.

The booking codes for online reservations are:

  • Room-only reservations – FJU
  • Reservations with the Disney Dining Plan – ADF

Rates are valid for stays with a check-in date between May 26 and August 2, and can be booked from now through the date of arrival.

Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations for the information!

Flower Power concert series perennial Davy Jones performs at Epcot last week. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Rumor mill alert

A couple of interesting rumors popped up during my research trip over the weekend. First up, there's a hot rumor circulating that George Lucas will make an appearance at some point during Star Wars Weekends (the final weekend has been mentioned a lot, but nothing is certain) while he visits to take a look at progress on Star Tours 2.0. It's likely that the reinvigorated development for a new version of the attraction is linked to Disney's attempt to convince Lucas to let them broadcast the upcoming live-action Star Wars-based television series (Warner Brothers won the battle to show the "Clone Wars" series.)

The second rumor is that, following the use of the old Hunchback theater at the Streets of America backlot for the Star Wars Weekend talk show events, it will be reconverted to house a Nightmare Before Christmas-based dark ride, as seen on the Disneyland and More blog (link). If this comes to pass, it will complement not only Disney's Christmas offering, but the more intense Halloween after-hours event they are trying to push for the Studios. In addition, it would help the transition of Grad Nite events to the Studios.

The final rumor involves space adjacent to Toy Story Mania. This one says that there will be a Cars-themed attraction there in time for the release of Cars 2 in 2012.

Those are rumors, not confirmed, so take them for what they're worth.

There are only two weeks left for the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, so if you want to see it, you'd better get moving. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Olszewski signing event

Robert Olszewski will hold a special signing event at Walt Disney World Resort on June 28 and 29. Details will be posted on the Disney Gallery web site (link).

Olszewski will be at Uptown Jewelers in the Magic Kingdom from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. on Saturday, June 28. He'll be at the Art of Disney store at the Downtown Disney Marketplace from 3-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. on Sunday, June 29.

Items being released include Exposition Hall and Tony's Town Square Restaurant, The Chapeau and Main Street Confectionery, and Central Plaza. These three pieces are part of the Walt Disney World Collection.

Help us keep our menu listings up to date!

Did you know that MousePlanet now has menu listings (link) for all theme park restaurants at Walt Disney World and many resort restaurants? You can help us keep them up to date! Send your photos, scans or other copies of restaurant menus (no fair copying from other Web sites) to menus@mouseplanet.com (link). Please note that there is a 5 MB limit on total attachments in a single email.


Quick takes …

…As reported on last Thursday's MousePlanetWatch Disney News episode of the MouseStation podcast, Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World will be rebranded with the ESPN brand. There are no concrete details yet, but "initial concepts involve renaming the sports complex and incorporating the signature elements of ESPN throughout the 220-acre facility." We'll see what else we can find out in the coming weeks.

…The Prince Caspian meet-and-greet location opened on Thursday. The soundstage walk-through is still under construction, and is expected to open in mid-June, though the official opening date is June 27.

Prince Caspian has begun meeting his fans outside his yet-to-open attraction. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

…The Disney Magic cruise ship has now passed through the Panama Canal after making its first-ever stop at Aruba. It made port in Acapulco yesterday, and will arrive in Los Angeles on Sunday following two more stops. MousePlanet staffers are on the ship, and we hope to have published reports upon their return home.

…The celebration of Norway's Constitution Day on Saturday evening saw all off-duty Norwegian cast members start their party in Norway, head to Italy for drinks and end up with an Illuminations party on the island between the France pavilion and the International Gateway. It sounded like a fun gathering as we passed by.

Workers remove the lower rows of tiles from the Mary Blair mural at the Contemporary Resort's Grand Canyon Concourse and replace them with what appears to be drywall. The purpose of this work is uncertain at this time. Photo by Mike Grygo.

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 19 – June 1. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. [See our Park Guide Page.]
  • May 21, 26, 31, June 4. Mickey's Pirate & Princess Party.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

The Liberty Square bridge has been shored up while awaiting the go-ahead for its replacement. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


  • Illuminations – the LED globe is scheduled to be removed from the show for a major refurbishment, possibly in early summer. The length of the refurbishment is not known. The show was tested without the globe on February 27.
  • 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 May 29 – November 30 for renovations that include the creation of an exhibition kitchen.

The Illuminations globe is expected to go out for renovations some time this summer. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Journey Into Narnia: Creating The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – closed for refurbishment and conversion to a Prince Caspian theme, January 2 – June 26.
  • Mickey Avenue – the back half has officially become "Pixar Place," which is only blocked by a row of shrubs to control access during the soft opening of Toy Story Mania.
  • "American Idol" – under construction in the soundstage that formerly hosted Superstar Television and Doug Live!. Scheduled to open "winter 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–mid-September. Temporary "child-sized" slides will be added to the quiet pools in the Jamaica and Barbados Villages while the main pool is closed.

The first of the former Treehouse Villas has been demolished. Others have had their interiors gutted in preparation join this one. Photo by Mike Grygo.

Water Parks

  • No known current refurbishments.


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

The T-Rex Cafe continues to rise at Downtown Disney. Photo by Mike Grygo.

The Cafe takes up quite a lot of space along the waterway between the parking lot and Pleasure Island. Photo by Mike Grygo.

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 discounts announced, Disney Dining Plan available

Annual Passholder and Florida Resident discounts have been announced for March through May. From March 30 through May 21, room-only discount rates are available, with Passholder rates being anywhere from $5 to $15 less than Florida resident rates. Passholders should use code FJC or FJD for Sunday-Thursday nights, while Florida residents should use FJK. The Passholder weekend rate code during that period is FJG.

In addition, the Disney Dining Plan will now be available to Annual Passholders, even on room-only reservations. To add the Dining Plan during the March 30 through May 21 AP discount period, Passholders should use code ANA, and the Deluxe Dining Plan requires code ANC. For other dates that do not have an effective Passholder discount, reservations for the Dining Plan should use code ADS and for the Deluxe Dining Plan should use code ADU.

Free dining for late summer

Free dining plans are available for Disney Visa cardholders and the general public. The plans are the same; the only difference was the start date for booking the package. The packages are good for most nights August 24 through September 20, and must be booked by June 22. Packages may be booked for a minimum of three nights and a maximum of 14 nights. Availability is limited and certain restrictions apply.

Existing reservations may be modified to include the free dining package if available. The deal is not only for a free standard dining plan, though. You can upgrade to the Deluxe Dining Plan and/or the Wine & Dine option and get a credit equal to the cost of the standard dining plan ($37.99 for ages 10 and up, $9.99 for ages 3-9) off of the enhanced plan.

For the Disney Visa package (reservation deposit must be made with a Disney Visa card), use the following codes:

  • CMK – Magic Your Way Package plus Dining
  • CMM – Magic Your Way Package plus Wine & Dine
  • CMP – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining
  • CMS – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining with Wine & Dine

Booking codes for the general public are:

  • AYG – Magic Your Way Package plus Dining
  • AYH – Magic Your Way Package plus Wine & Dine
  • AYI – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining
  • AYJ – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining with Wine & Dine

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.