Walt Disney World Park Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for June 30 – July 6, 2008

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

News and Views

Goodbye, PI | Late-summer discounts | Higher DCL tips | Construction death | Speedway hybrid update | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Marching along... into oblivion

Marching along, we're Adventurers.
Singing a song of Adventurers.
Up or down,
North, South, East or West,
An Adventurer's life is best!
An Adventurer's life is best!

The end of an era is at hand, as after 19 years of being the nighttime place to be at Walt Disney World, Pleasure Island on September 27 closes its six remaining nightclubs of the Adventurer's Club, Comedy Warehouse, 8Trax, Mannequins Dance Palace, BET SoundStage Club, and Motion. In their place will be... more stores and restaurants.

"Our guests tell us they want additional shopping and dining experiences at Downtown Disney," stated Downtown Disney Vice President Kevin Lansberry in a press release. "We are currently considering a number of unique concepts from around the globe as we re-imagine Pleasure Island and look forward to sharing our progress over the coming months."

While it's unclear whether the demise of Pleasure Island is partly due to its location, the fact that it was the easiest way to get between the Marketplace and the West Side surely didn't help. Foot traffic between the two more family-friendly areas was likely part of the reason that Disney changed the admission policy at the Island from hard-ticketed location to all-access with only the clubs requiring admission. An attempt at competition with Universal CityWalk was likely another reason for the change.

Regardless of the reason, many Pleasure Island aficionados focus on that policy change as the beginning of the end for the Island. With the loss of the exclusivity, the adult-orientation of the street parties, and the growing groups of local teens using the streets of the Island as a substitute for hanging out at the mall, the future grew increasingly dark for the entertainment district.

The difficulties grew with the population of local teens, as their presence made tourists feel more and more uncomfortable, leading to a crackdown on gang-related activities last summer. Fans continued to note the "De-Evolution of Downtown Disney," as we dubbed it on a MouseStation Podcast earlier this year.

So now Pleasure Island will undergo an extreme makeover of its own. As of press time, it is unknown whether any of the buildings will survive the transition, which will take place over the next two years. However, we do have a list of what is officially planned so far. While the clubs will close, other locations on Pleasure Island, including Raglan Road, Fuego by Sosa Cigars, Curl by Sammy Duval, Orlando Harley-Davidson and outdoor food and beverage locations, will remain open.

A giant, tethered balloon will take guests 300 feet into the air to view Walt Disney World from above. An image distributed by Walt Disney World depicts the PanoraMagique balloon from Disneyland Paris, so it's probably safe to assume that this attraction will be another Aerophile Aero30NG balloon.

An image provided by Disney shows the PanoraMagique balloon ride rising near the Hotel New York at Disneyland Resort Paris. Image © Disney.

As we already knew, T-Rex: A Prehistoric Family Adventure will open this fall. Note that it's now just "T-Rex," and not "T-Rex Cafe." The restaurant featuring life-size animated dinosaurs, geysers, waterfalls and a fossil dig site is located just outside the eastern entrance to Pleasure Island, and will serve pizzas, pastas, seafood and more.

T-Rex is scheduled to open outside the east entrance to Pleasure Island this fall. Image © Disney.

Also this fall, those who are looking to design their own T-shirt will be able to do so at a new store from Hanes. This new location builds on the "design your own souvenir" trend that seems to be building at the resort.

"Wonderful World of Memories - Mickey's T-Shirt Factory" is expected to provide opportunities to design your own T-shirts this fall, courtesy of Hanes. Image © Disney.

La Dolbe, a new restaurant concept from E-brands Restaurants will open next spring on the site that is currently occupied by Motion. Featuring authentic Central and South American cuisine, it will also present live music along the waterfront.

Motion will be replaced by La Dolbe next spring. Image © Disney.

This summer will mark the beginning of the conversion of the Portobello Yacht Club to a Tuscan Country Trattoria, featuring authentic Italian dishes and signature favorites. The interior will be redesigned and an outdoor dining area will be added.

Portobello Yacht Club will apparently become merely Portobello, featuring an outdoor patio, according to this concept artwork. Image © Disney.


The restaurant's interior will get a complete makeover, as well. Image © Disney.

Fulton's Crab House will get a fixing-up next spring. The third-floor dining area will be refreshed to allow for larger private parties and the rest of the former Empress Lilly will get updated fixtures, furnishings and exterior.

Fulton's will have some work of its own done next spring. Image © Disney.

Off of the Island, the Marketplace Stage will be replaced with a larger, covered stage this fall. In addition to blocking more of the view of the lake, it will provide a new "premier venue" for Disney's Magic Music Days. Elsewhere at the Marketplace, Goofy's Candy Company will add a special new room to host birthday parties.

This conceptualized view of the new Marketplace Dock stage shows that the current "stepped" area will be flattened out. Image © Disney.


The stage will block a portion of the view of Village Lake. Image © Disney.


The stage is located across from the World of Disney store. Image © Disney.

Over on the West Side, Wolfgang Puck Cafe will get an upgrade next year, with new interior fixtures and furnishings as well as en enclosed glass patio.

We're still awaiting to hear from Disney on the many questions that we've asked, including effect of the proposed changes on the Water Park Fun & More park pass option, other future nightlife options and whether or not the buildings will be torn down and replaced. Once we receive those answers, they'll appear in my blog, a MousePlanetWatch Disney News episode of the MouseStation Podcast (which airs on Thursdays) and in a future Walt Disney World Park Update.

For some of my personal thoughts, check out my blog post on the closing. Will you now leave Disney property to go to Universal CityWalk or head to the revitalized Church Street Station? You can also join the discussion of the demise of the place where you could once "Carpe Noctem" with Mac 2-Nite on our MousePad discussion forums.

New Discounts announced for August and September

As I reported in my blog last Thursday, new discounts have been announced for most nights August 3 - September 27. To get these rates, you must book by July 27.

Here are some sample rates:

To get the rates, use the following codes:

  • Magic Your Way – DCT
  • Magic Your Way with Dining – DDK
  • Magic Your Way with Deluxe Dining – DDN
  • Magic Your Way with Dine & Wine – DDL
  • Magic Your Way with Deluxe Dine & Wine – DDO
  • Room Only – DDH
  • Room Only Canadian DDU

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

You really want to keep an eye on the latest blog posts from the MousePlanet staff to get news like this throughout the week. Just keep your eye on the right-hand side of MousePlanet's front page for updates throughout the week.

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!

Disney Cruise Line modifies recommended tipping guidelines

MousePlanet's Tony Phoenix reports that the Disney Cruise Line has modified the recommended tipping guidelines for any Disney Cruise sailing beginning July 13, 2008:

Voyage Length 3-Night 4-Night 5-Night 7-Night 15-Night

Dining Room Server ($4 per night)






Asst. Dining Room Server ($3 per night)






Dining Room Head Server ($1 per night)






Stateroom Host/Hostess ($4 per night)






TOTALS PER GUEST ($12 per night)






The 15% gratuity added to bar, beverage, wine and deck service remains the same.

Disney construction worker dies after accident at All-Star Music job site

Osceola County Sheriff's detectives are working with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials to investigate the death of a Disney employee who was injured while working on a high-lift vehicle at the All-Star Music Resort on June 13. John Swearingen, 52, was apparently pinned against something at the job site, causing chest, neck and head injuries. He was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center with life-threatening injuries and died last Thursday. Deputies indicate that the death appears to be accidental.

Speedway hybrid car back on hold

Three weeks ago, we reported that the new hybrid car for the Tomorrowland Speedway was getting ready to go out on the track for final clearance and live testing with guests. On Tuesday, it made a very short appearance, then it quit running and the mechanics had to go out and get it. The car is apparently once again on indefinite hold.

Meanwhile, our source notes that the new fuel tank and fueling system reported on in last week's construction update is likely just a new underground fuel tank and pumps for the existing pit area, as the current equipment is over 30 years old.

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:

  • Magic Kingdom Mickey's PhilharMagic, Country Bear Jamboree – Install new emitters for the audio description project
  • Epcot Soarin' – Install new emitters for the audio description project
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Toy Story Mania, Lights Motors Action theater – Install new emitters for the audio description project
  • North Service Area Monorail Shop – Modify three roll-up door openings
  • Epcot World Showcase Promenade – Replace designated Promenade light fixtures in Canada, United Kingdom, France, Japan, American Adventure & Italy
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios EMH Backlot Lighting – Install power and control to light trusses located on Audio/Video Facility Roof
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Hollywood & Vine Restaurant – Replace existing pass-through refrigerator with new model
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Prop Warehouse – Furnish/install security alarm power
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios (Imagineering) – Construct metal framed screen wall at back-of-house gate for Mickey Ave. widening
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – Install new trench drain at dry bird quarantine room
  • Disney's Wide World of Sports (Imagineering) – operational graphics package
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – Perform improvement in Front Office Area
  • Contemporary Exterior Xmas Tree Replace – Provide new concrete footer w/ rebar reinforcement, includes all electrical
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – Replace 150 cabin doors and frames on guest cabins in loops 100, 200 and 2100 through 2800
  • Boardwalk Resort – Boardwalk Joe's Coffee cart power relocation
  • Beach Club Resort – Replace damaged Werzalit siding
  • Pop Century Resort – Demo and construct a package pickup storage area adjacent to the Everything Pop Merchandise Shop

Quick takes …

…Last Thursday at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the theme park's Prince Caspian character rode in on a horse to open the new Journey Into Narnia: Prince Caspian soundstage attraction. Warwick Davis, who plays the evil dwarf Nikabrik in the Prince Caspian movie, was in town to act as host for Star Wars Weekends and joined the festivities. The new attraction features Narnia trivia in the queue, then an optional meet-and-greet with Prince Caspian in front of a "Dancing Lawn" backdrop before heading into the soundstage. After a narration from director Andrew Adamson, guests then pass through a "stone" archway that leads to the underground vault holding Aslan's stone table. Props and costumes from the movie are also on display.

…The Australian city of Melbourne is in the running to be featured as one of four featured "great food cities" at this year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, according to a story in the Melbourne Leader. Other frontrunners include New Orleans, Copenhagen and Rio de Janeiro.

…The Expedition Everest Challenge is now 65 percent sold out, and the Walt Disney World Marathon is now 70 percent full, both 5 percentage points closer to closure than last week.

…The Great Wheel Corporation has announced that it will begin construction on the Great Orlando Wheel, a 400-foot-tall "observation wheel" that will feature 25-mile views in each direction. The Wheel, scheduled to open in 2010, will sit next to the Orlando-Orange County Convention Center. Many of the same companies responsible for the London Eye are involved in the creation of the various parts of Orlando's wheel.

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

  • July 25 – Aug 13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • No known current refurbishments


  • 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 – now open.
  • Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey – closed for refurbishment July 7 to August 5.
  • "American Idol" – under construction in the soundstage that formerly hosted Superstar Television and Doug Live!. Scheduled to open January 2009.

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

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closes for annual refurbishment November 1 through at least the end of the year.
  • Blizzard Beach – closes for annual refurbishment once Typhoon Lagoon reopens, likely through mid-March.


  • Pleasure Island – all clubs to close September 27.
  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays.
  • T-Rex – 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 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.