Walt Disney World Park Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for August 11 – August 17, 2008

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

News and Views

Adventures by Disn ey | Disney Cruise Line | Universal raises prices | New "'Boo" | Parade rerouting | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Disney rolls out 2009 Adventures by Disney itineraries

Last week, Disney announced the lineup for next year's Adventures by Disney itineraries, including eight new destinations. Fifteen trips will also return, for a total of 23 different itineraries for 2009.

The eight new itineraries are:

  • Alpine Magic (Italy and Switzerland) – Stresa, Zermatt and Lake Lucerne
  • Beantown & The Big Apple – Boston, Newport and New York City
  • Bella Italia (Central Italy) – Sorrento and Florence
  • Gateway to the Galapagos – Ecuador and Galapagos Islands
  • Golden Path to Yosemite – Lake Tahoe, Yosemite National Park and San Francisco
  • Rocky Trails and Mountie Tales (Montana and Alberta, Canada) – Glacier National Park and Banff National Park
  • Safari to South Africa (South Africa) – Capetown, The Garden Route and Kapama Game Reserve
  • Taming the Last Frontier (Alaska) – Fairbanks, Denali National Park and Kenai Peninsula

The fifth year of Disney's international family-friendly itineraries also includes the following returning itineraries:

  • North America
    • Spirit of America – Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Williamsburg, Va.
    • Quest for the West – Jackson Hole, Wyo., Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks
    • Southwest Splendors – Sedona, Grand Canyon and Moab
    • Backstage Magic – Hollywood and Disneyland Resort
  • Southern Europe
    • Viva Italia – Rome, Tuscany and Venice
    • Treasures of Spain [Previously Grande España] – Barcelona, Seville and Madrid
  • British Isles & Europe
    • The Emerald Isle (Ireland) – Dublin, Killarney and Shannon
    • Cities of Knights and Lights (England and France) – London and Paris
    • Once Upon a Fairytale (Germany) –: Heidelberg, Trendelburg, Rothenburg and Munich
    • Flavors of France – Provence and Paris
    • Storybook Kingdoms [Formerly Imperial Cities] (Czech Republic and Austria) – Prague, Salzburg and Vienna
  • Latin America
    • Path to Pura Vida (Costa Rica) – San José, Arenal and Manuel Antonio National Park
    • Sacred Valleys and Incan Cities (Peru) – Lima, Sacred Valley and Cusco
  • Asia & Pacific
    • Enchanted China – Beijing, Chengdu, Guilin, Shanghai and Hong Kong
    • Discovery Down Under (Australia) – North Queensland, Ayers Rock and Sydney

In addition, Disney is introducing Disney Signature Trips on two of its itineraries this year. On specified departure dates on the Safari to South Africa and Golden Path to Yosemite itineraries, travelers get upgraded accommodations, special amenties and special events not available on standard dates for those tours.

"In 2009, we will continue to be innovators in the family and group travel business. By offering 23 destinations, we are giving our guests the opportunity to enjoy authentic experiences and magical moments only Disney could create in more places than ever before," said Ed Baklor, senior vice President, Adventures by Disney. "Wherever we go, two specially trained Adventure Guides, along with a host of local experts, allow families to see, hear, touch and taste the history and cultures of destinations around the globe and in our own backyard."

For more information, go to the Adventures by Disney Web site (link), call Adventures by Disney directly at 888-325-2500, or contact your travel agent. Small World Vacations (link) is MousePlanet's preferred travel provider.

Work continues on the Bay Lake Tower DVC resort adjacent to the Contemporary. Photo by Brian Warneke.

Disney Cruise Line honored again

Disney Cruise Line was recently honored by Travel + Leisure magazine in its 2008 "World's Best" awards. The cruise line was ranked number 3 in the Large Ship category. Disney's third-place overall finish put it in the top spot among mass-market cruise lines with a score of 82.50, behind only Crystal Cruises (90.67) and Regent Seven Seas Cruises (88.71). Disney was up one spot, dropping Oceania Cruises to fourth. The rest of the Top 10 were largely unchanged from last year, including Cunard Line (5th, 80.07), Celebrity Cruises (6th, 78.37), Holland America Line (7th, 77.92), Princess Cruises (up one spot to 8th, 75.80), Royal Caribbean International (up one spot to 9th, 73.09) and Norwegian Cruise Line (new to the top 10 in 10th, 68.26). Orient Lines dropped out of the Top 10.

The rankings were determined by readers, who were asked to rate cruise lines on cabins, food, service, itineraries, destinations, activities and value.

"We are delighted to be recognized in the Travel + Leisure magazine '2008 World's Best' awards as one of the top three large-ship cruise lines and the highest ranked cruise line catering to the family market," said Tom McAlpin, President of Disney Cruise Line. "This recognition further enhances our position as the best cruise line for an unparalleled family vacation and motivates us to continue to elevate the Disney Cruise Line experience even higher."

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

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!

Universal Orlando keeps pace with Disney; raises price to $75 for one-day ticket

As, it seems, with every year, Universal Orlando joined Walt Disney World in its annual price hike. On Wednesday, the resort also raised its one-day, one-park pass from $71 to $75. Many of their other ticket prices jumped as well, though some deep discounts remain in place, such as the Internet-only deals on a one-day park hopper for Florida residents and two-park annual passes for all guests.

"It's sound business strategy to keep prices on par with market levels," said Michael Lewellen, Universal vice president for public relations. "We believe our pricing reflects the world-class experience we offer."

SeaWorld Orlando, which also used to make price hikes with the other parks, has now decided not to participate in the arms race. Instead, their one-day, one-park pass still costs $69.95 per person. The Busch Entertainment park also offers many combination tickets, including offers with the Aquatica water park and the Discovery Cove up-close-and-personal experience park.

A kiln heats glass for a Murano glass blowing demonstration at Crystal Arts on Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom. Photo by Brian Warneke.


An artisan works the glass during the demonstration. Photo by Brian Warneke.

There's a Nu "'Boo" in town

Fans of the local watering hole called the Big Bamboo Lounge were disheartened when the hangout for Disney cast members and Imagineers was demolished after a long decline including severe hurricane damage, rot, looters, squatters and a fire. However, some never gave up on recreating the place, and now some seem to have done just that, according to a story in the Orlando Sentinel (link). Led by Steen Laurieson, a group of former 'Boo denizens have opened the Nu Bamboo Lounge in the back bar room of the Carefree Inn & Suites (map link) in Kissimmee, right across the street from the former location of the 'Boo.

The place is already decorated with Disney nametags and memorabilia including seats from Test Track. The new dive apparently already has gained the feel of the old dive, even though it hasn't held its grand opening yet, but it will be interesting to find out whether the crowds of Disney folks "return" to the Nu 'Boo to honor the old place.

Parade rerouting update

We had reported last week that the Disney Dreams Come True Parade would run twice each day from August 15 to 29 while the Liberty Square bridge is under repair and the SpectroMagic Parade would not be running. We noted that we believed that the parade would travel up from the Main Street Firehouse gate through to the Mickey's Toontown Fair entrance gate during the 3:00 showing and return to the Firehouse game during its 7:00 showing. According to cast members, the parade will actually leave the Firehouse gate, go up to the hub, turn around there and come back down Main Street, leaving back through the Firehouse gate. Apparently, the parade's floats won't fit through the narrow pathways and sharp turns necessary to get past the Mad Tea Party and there's not really enough room to get the floats turned around onced they get through the gate.

With the parade essentially making a U-turn around the rotary of the hub, there won't be enough room for all of the floats to participate in the parade, as the last float will have to be in the hub before the first float can start back up Main Street. Expect perhaps three or four floats, tops, as they try this little rolling circular traffic jam in front of Cinderella Castle to reposition the floats for the trip back to the barn. It'll be interesting to see how well they can pull this off. At least, it's only going to be for two weeks.

Roof work on the queue area of Mickey's PhilharMagic continues. Photo by Brian Warneke.

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:

Quick takes …

… The Blackstone private equity group is reportedly considering buying Busch Entertainment from InBev once the purchase of Anheuser-Busch is completed. Blackstone is co-owner of Universal Orlando (holding 50 percent of the resort), as well as being a major shareholder in Merlin Entertainments Group, which owns Alton Towers, LegoLand, the London Eye and more amusement enterprises.

…The Expedition Everest Challenge is now 90 percent full. The 2009 Walt Disney World Marathon is 80 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

  • July 25 – Aug 13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers training camp.
  • Aug. 29 – Sept. 5. Disney's Royal Quinceañera Weekend.
  • Sept. 5–6. Night of Joy.
  • Sept. 5–7. Disney's Pin Celebration.
  • Sept. 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 28, 30, Oct. 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, 13, 16, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30, 31. Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
  • Sept.26–Nov. 9. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
  • Sept. 27. Expedition Everest Challenge.
  • Oct. 5. Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K.
  • Oct. 12. Race for the Taste 10K.
  • Oct. 25. Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • SpectroMagic – will not be performed August 15–29 during the refurbishment of the Liberty Square bridge. A re-routed Disney Dreams Come True Parade will be shown twice those days, at 3 and 7 p.m. Cast are being told that the 3:00 parade will go up Main Street, circle the hub and return the way that it came.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment September 6–12.
  • Country Bear Jamboree – closed for refurbishment September 28 – October 31.
  • The Hall of Presidents – closed November 1 through at least the end of February for addition of whomever the next U.S. president might be.


  • Morocco – Gallery of Arts and History closed for refurbishment July 14 – September 24.
  • Illuminations – the LED globe is scheduled to be removed from the show for a major refurbishment, currently believed to be targeted for August 13. 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 at a date to be determined to be completely remodeled.
  • 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

  • High School Musical 2: School's Out – ends September 13, will be replaced with new show themed to High School Musical 3: Senior Year, opening in time for the new movie's October 24 opening.
  • American Idol – under construction in the soundstage that formerly hosted Superstar Television and Doug Live!. Scheduled to open January 2009.

Animal Kingdom

  • Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment September 2 – November 15.
  • Pocahontas and her Forest Friends – closes permanently September 27.


  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – Phase 1 of the Kidani Village annex building for the Disney Vacation Club's Animal Kingdom Villas is expected to open in May 2009, with Phase 2 opening in September 2009. Jambo House construction is 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. Room renovations underway to re-theme most rooms to Finding Nemo, with the rest being themed to Pirates of the Caribbean. Pirates rooms will become available for booking as of January 24 arrival dates.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort – High Rock Springs pool closed September 8–26.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – Surfing classes and events are not available until after the park comes back from its winter maintenance due to work required on the wave generation machine. The wave pool will continue to operate, but the monster waves necessary for surfing are out of commission. The park closes for its 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 permanently 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

Passholder rates for late summer/early fall

Passholder rates are available for late summer and early fall. It appears that both room-only and Disney Dining Plan packages are available. Rates are valid for stays with a check-in date between August 3 and September 27, and can be booked from now through the date of arrival.

The booking code for phone reservations is FKJ.

Sample rates include:

  • Fort Wilderness Campsites: $42 per night
  • Value resorts: $64 per night
  • Moderate resorts: $99 per night
  • Fort Wilderness cabins: $174 per night
  • Deluxe Villa resorts (studio): $169 per night

Disney Cruise Line half-price deposits for online reservations, for a limited time

The Disney Cruise Line has announced a special deal where any bookings through the Disney Cruise web site (link) will only require payment of half of the usual deposit, with the other half due with the rest of the final payment. The offer is only good on new bookings, and for category 4-12 cabins only. The offer is available to those booking online or through their travel agents (though the travel agent would have to book the cruise through disneycruise.com for the offer). Bookings are also eligible for the standard $25 onboard credit offer for all online bookings. The deal is available "for a limited time," but there's no word on when the limited time expires.

Discounted ECV rentals for MousePlanet readers through Scooter Vacations

Scooter Vacations, MousePlanet's mobility scooter rental partner, is offering MousePlanet readers a 10 percent discount on their scooter rentals by using code MP10 when making your reservation for any of their five scooter models.

For upcoming park events, please go here.

Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.