Walt Disney World Park Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for May 27 – June 1, 2008

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

News and Views

Primeval Whirl OSHA findings | American Idol | Adventures by Disney | The Wave | Helping Kids Shine | Construction update | Quick Takes …

OSHA slaps Disney with $21,500 in fines over five violations in Primeval Whirl death investigation

Last Thursday, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a report on its inquiry into the accident at Primeval Whirl last November 24 that caused the death of Walt Disney World cast member Karen Price. The report, made public last Friday, cited Disney for five violations and fined them $21,500.

At the time, we reported that "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." Her condition later worsened and she died five days later.

OSHA's report clarifies that: "An employee, who was working on an elevated platform, dispatched a roller coaster then went back to the roller coaster to assist some guests and while the deceased was assisting the guests the roller coaster dispatched. The roller coaster struck the deceased then pushed her 10 feet. The deceased fell 32 inches from the roller coaster to the ground level."

OSHA cited Disney for five violations, the second-largest of which was a $7,000 fine for lacking "machine guarding" to protect ride operators on both load platforms, leaving the cast members vulnerable "to being struck by or crushed" by a ride vehicle as it moved across the area.

Two other "serious" violations that were not directly related to the incident were a trip hazard related to supports attached to the ground and a fall hazard on non-uniform stairs; each resulted in a $4,000 fine. The largest fine, $7,500, was for a repeat violation, uncorrected since last July, for not providing a handrail on a stairway. The fifth violation was for not providing OSHA with requested paperwork related to the incident within four days.

Disney did make some adjustments to the load/unload area of the attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom in March, adding sensor mats to the restricted area where Price was hit by the coaster car. The mats will cause an immediate ride stoppage if anyone enters into that area. In addition, bold striping was added to the station floor to denote the loading and unloading areas.

"First and foremost—our deepest sympathies remain with Mrs. Price’s family. The safety of our guests and Cast Members is our top priority," Walt Disney World spokeswoman Jacquee Polak told MousePlanet. "We have just received OSHA’s findings and are in the process of reviewing them and posting them at the work location for our Cast Members. We will address any concerns directly with OSHA.  We modified the  ride platform at Primeval Whirl in February as part of our ongoing efforts to further enhance safety throughout Walt Disney World Resort."

Real American Idol to head to Walt Disney World

by MousePlanet staff Lani Teshima

While Disney has announced its launch of the new American Idol attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios next January, another Idol will be hitting Walt Disney World before then.

After last week's victory on the show by rocker David Cook against his 17-year-old opponent, David Archuleta, Disney quickly released its newest edition of the famous "I'm going to Disney World" TV commercial featuring the 25-year-old singer. The commercial begins with some childhood snapshots of Cook, then moves to a montage of clips of Cook from the series competition, and ends with those famous words last uttered by Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, quarterback for the New York Giants. [After scheduling conflicts prevented Manning from going to Disneyland immediately after the game, he finally honored his promise by appearing in a parade down Disneyland's Main Street (with his new bride) three weeks ago on May 7.]

The advertising campaign begain in 1987 with NFL players and although it had expanded to athletes in other fields, this may be the first time that the campaign featured a singer (and winning performer from American Idol). And because the commercial features a singer, those who are familiar with Cook's voice should immediately recognize that the commercial's theme song, "When You Wish Upon a Star" is sung by Cook in the voiceover.

One reason for Disney expanding the campaign to include the winner from American Idol probably has to do with the new eponymous attraction they are opening in Walt Disney World next year. American Idol viewers who paid attention to the list of sponsors would have noticed that "Disney Parks" is listed prominently in the show's end credits. The finale show last Wednesday included a segment with Jordan Sparks, last season's American Idol winner, standing atop Cinderella Castle and inviting viewers to go to the Disney's Hollywood Studios to see the attraction when it opens. [It should be noted that the final announcement of the winner only takes 30 seconds, and that producers pad the two-hour finale with either regular commercials, or in-program product endorsements, of which Sparks' segment was.]

David Archuleta fans who were disappointed at his second place shouldn't despair—because of his youth, the bulk of his fans are also probably ardent Hannah Montana and High School Musical fans. If you're an "Archie" fan, my suggestion is that you start campaigning to get Archuleta contracted into the Disney Channel institution. Hopefully he has acting talent in addition to his musical talent, because Disney could make a lot of money putting him in future High School Musical franchises.

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!

Adventures By Disney spring offer about to expire

Adventures By Disney has a deep discount available for some itineraries, but you need to book it by Saturday. You can save up to $650 per adult and $600 per child on any of six varied itineraries.

The discounts are available on the Grande España (link), Taste of Tuscany (link), Path to Pura Vida (link), Spirit of America (link), Imperial Cities (link) or Backstage Magic (link) tours.

Grande España takes you through Madrid, Seville and Barcelona for 9 days and 8 nights, while Taste of Tuscany spends 7 days and 6 nights in Rome and Tuscany. You can spend 8 days and 7 nights touring Vienna, Prague and Salzburg in the Imperial Cities itinerary or explore nature on the Path to Pura Vida with 7 days and 6 nights in Costa Rica at San Jose, Arenal, Manuel Antonio and Quepos. Back in the U.S.A., you can spend 8 days and 7 nights exploring history on the Spirit of America tour in Philadelphia, WIlliamsburg and Washington, D.C., or you can see how movie and theme park magic is made for 6 days and 5 nights on the Backstage Magic tour through Hollywood and at the Disneyland Resort.

For more information, go to the Adventures By Disney web site (link), call Adventures By Disney at 877-728-7282, or contact your Disney specialist travel agent. Small World Vacations (link) is MousePlanet's preferred travel provider.

The Wave washes in as the Concourse Steakhouse bids adieu

The Concourse Steakhouse at the Contemporary Resort closes Saturday night, making way for an expanded Chef Mickey's and a new quick-service eatery for salads and sandwiches on the Grand Canyon Concourse, both scheduled to open this fall (Chef Mickey's remains open while the expansion is readied). Joining the mix at the resort is the new full-service dining location called The Wave, scheduled to open next Saturday, June 7, for dinner. Starting the next day, the 220-seat restaurant will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Located in the first floor area formerly occupied by the Food 'n' Fun Center, the casual dining table service restaurant is "bold cooking inspired by fresh markets," said Dieter Hannig, vice president of new concepts for Walt Disney World Food & Beverage. "America is more and more a melting pot, and The Wave features American cooking with world flavors."

The eclectic lunch menu features everything from a vegetarian sandwich will grilled tofu, roasted veggies and herb goat cheese on multi-grain bread to an Angus chuck burger with cheese and Applewood smoked bacon and everything in between. Breakfast and dinner menus are similarly diverse.

Coffee is organic Colombian (fair trade and "Smithsonian-certified bird-friendly") and teas are whole leaf Pyramid bags in flavors from chamomile blossoms to monsoon chai.

Another interesting "twist" is that the wine list includes only wine with screw caps, to support sustainable agriculture. While The Wave serves no California wines (you'll need to go to the California Grill on the 15th floor for those), there are plenty of options from the Southern Hemisphere, including Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, 50 of which are available by the glass.

Certified organic ales from Orlando Brewing are on the beer menu, while trendy cocktails are available at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Antioxidant Cocktail, for example, features wild berry vodka, black raspberry liqueur, açai juice with agave, lychee, aloe juice and freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Reservations for The Wave are now available via the Walt Disney World Dining line, 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).

Disney gives $700,000 to local non-profits to Help Kids Shine

Walt Disney World presented $700,000 in Helping Kids Shine Grant Awards to 44 Central Florida non-profit organizations last Friday. Two special named awards were given in honor of Walt Disney World executives who have made significant contributions to the community.

The Bob Allen Outstanding Community Service Award is named for the late Disney Legend (link) who is also honored with a window on Main Street and, for the first time, $50,000 was presented in his name to two different charities. The Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida received funding to provide therapy to homeless children to help them build developmental assets such as trust, honesty, integrity, responsibility, personal power and self-esteem, while the Office for Farm Worker Ministry provides activities for children of poor and immigrant farm workers. Both awarded programs strengthen the academic and emotional well-being of youth so they become active participants in their families and their communities.

The Dianna Morgan Children's Champion Award (named for a children's advocate who forged relationships among Disney, community members and leaders throughout Florida during her 30-year career with the company) awarded $45,000 to the Central Florida Speech and Hearing Center to provide preschool teachers with the skills to improve and develop language literacy and school-readiness skills for preschoolers.

Forty-one other recipients, selected by a panel of judges made up of Central Florida community leaders and Walt Disney World Cast Members, split the remaining $555,000.

"For more than 30 years, we have helped make dreams come true for our community. As a company with more than 62,000 Cast Members, we are always looking for new ways to invest in our community so that Central Florida becomes an even better place to live, work and play," said Eugene Campbell, Walt Disney World's vice president of Community Relations and Minority Business Development.

The ceremony took place at the Osceola County School for the Performing Arts. Since 1972, Walt Disney World has awarded more than $9.5 million to benefit local non-profit organizations.

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.

Construction update

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

  • Epcot's  Canada pavilion – repair and repaint the metal roof of the Canada pavilion hotel
  • Epcot's China pavilion – demolish Nine Dragons Restaurant kitchen
  • Epcot's Ellen's Energy Adventure – Install new carpet in the pre-show and exit areas
  • Magic Kingdom – install new chilled-water air handler units at Pirates of the Caribbean, Mickey's PhilarMagic
  • Magic Kingdom – install 2600 sq. ft. pre-fab Parade Dressing Building
  • Magic Kingdom's Jungle Cruise – excavate & install conduit
  • Magic Kingdom's Pecos Bill's – install camera(s) in queue lines
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios' Narnia Meet & Greet – provide block and shell structure
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – Elephant Barn – Pour concrete equipment pad
  • Contemporary Resort – update and refresh of Contemporary 4th floor restaurants
  • Contemporary Resort – replace 5th Floor Tower on the South end of Resort, includes replacement of skylights
  • Contemporary Resort – upgrade emergency lights at the elevator landings of the 14th floor
  • Contemporary Resort – refresh room service kitchen
  • Polynesian Resort's Buildings 9 & 15 – Gable Ends repairs; waterproof, sealant; replace fasteners
  • Polynesian Resort – install heat exchanger in the pot sink in the Great Ceremonial House main kitchen
  • Port Orleans Resort's French Quarter and Riverside – replace existing concrete sidewalks with new concrete
  • Port Orleans Riverside and Pop Century's Food Court Beverage Island – modify existing soda dispenser support counter and install new drain pan/trough
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – fabricate and install signs per the Caribbean Beach Resort Style Guide
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – complete exterior painting on Jamaica & Martinique Villages Lodge Buildings, gutters, downspouts
  • Yacht & Beach Clubs and Boardwalk Resorts – replace damaged concrete sidewalks
  • Boardwalk Resort – replace ferrous fasteners and prime and repair all metal and wood on slide structure at Luna Park Pool Keister Coaster
  • Imagineering – Disney's Hollywood Studios' Rock 'n' Roller Coaster – Hanes Identity Graphics Package
  • Imagineering – The Wave Marquee Package
  • Imagineering – Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex – Operational Graphics Package

Quick takes …

…The Beach Club Villas has been testing a member check-in location in the lobby of the Villas building since last August. After reviewing the process, it has been decided that all members and guests staying at the resort will check in at the main front desk of the Beach Club Resort in order to have a single check-in location for all Beach Club guests. The change is effective this Sunday, June 1.

…Registration for the Expedition Everest Challenge is now 50 percent full. The 2009 Walt Disney World Marathon is now 65 percent full.

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 31, June 4. Mickey's Pirate & Princess Party.
  • June 6–9. Gay Days 2008 (unofficial event).
  • July 25 – Aug 13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom


  • 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 – closed May 29 – November 30 for renovations that include the creation of an exhibition kitchen.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Journey Into Narnia: Prince Caspian – opens mid-June, official opening in June 27.
  • 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, which opens May 31.
  • "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.

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.

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!

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

Passholder rates for summer

Passholder rates are available for the summer. You can book both room-only and Disney Dining Plan packages. 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.

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

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.