Walt Disney World Park Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for August 18 – August 24, 2008

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

News and Views

Fall discounts | Food & Wine reservations | Gun ban news | Girl molested | Night of Joy | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Fall discounts for all

As noted on my blog, Walt Disney World Annual Passholder discounts on rooms and dining plans as well as discount packages for everyone were released last week. Both discounts are valid for travel dates between September 28 and December 23.

Passholders should use the following Booking Codes when making your reservation (standard passholder discount rules apply):

  • PWE – Passholder rate room only
  • DHZ – Passholder rate with Dining Plan
  • JZJ – Passholder rate with Deluxe Dining Plan Rates

Fall Magic Your Way package discounts are available to everyone, but must be booked by September 24:

  • DGL – Basic Magic Your Way
  • QXD – Magic Your Way plus Dining
  • UVL – Magic Your Way plus Deluxe Dining
  • DGM – Magic Your Way plus Dining with Wine & Dine
  • GGM – Magic Your Way plus Deluxe Dining with Wine & Dine

Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations, MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel provider for the information.

Reservations open next Monday for Food & Wine Festival special events

As mentioned on my blog last week, reservations open at 7 a.m. EDT next Monday, August 25, for special events at 13th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The special events are extremely popular and tend to book up very quickly. Here is a list of events that will require advance booking:

  • NEW – Bocuse d’Or USA Grand Gala (9/27)
  • NEW – Master’s Wine Class (10/19, 10/26, 11/8)
  • NEW – City Tastes (10/17, 10/24, 10/31, 11/7)
  • NEW – French Regional Lunches (Select Saturdays)
  • The Cook, the Book and the Bottle (9/26, 10/3, 10/10, 10/17, 10/24, 10/31, 11/7)
  • Kitchen Conversations (10/2, 10/9, 10/16, 10/23, 10/30, 11/6)
  • A Regional Feast (10/22)
  • Cheese & Wine Pairings (9/27, 10/4, 10/11, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8)
  • Epcot Wine Schools (10/4, 10/11, 10/25, 11/1)
  • Walt Disney World Resort Signature Dining (11/2, 11/7)
  • Party for the Senses (10/4, 10/11, 10/18, 10/25, 11/1, 11/8)
  • Food & Wine Pairings (Most Saturdays, Mondays & Tuesdays)
  • Vertical Wine Tastings (10/5, 10/12, 11/2, 11/9)
  • Sweet Sundays (9/28, 10/5, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26, 11/2, 11/9)

Details on each of these will appear Friday on the Food & Wine Festival page on the Walt Disney World Web site (link). Celebrity chefs this year include Allen Susser, Jeff Henderson, Cat Cora, Todd English, Warren Brown, Jamie Deen, Gale Gand, Rock Harper, Tre Wilcox, and Robert Irvine.

Last month, we discussed the Bocuse d'Or USA competition being held as part of the opening weekend of the Festival. The finale of the competition will be a Gala Dinner and Awards ceremony recognizing the first, second and third place teams, featuring a silent auction, live musical entertainment, dancing and a chance to meet and mingle with some the world’s top chefs, including the Gala Dinner Chefs, as well as Paul Bocuse, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and the Deans of The French Culinary Institute, Alain Sailhac and Andre Soltner. The star-studded dinner includes hors d’oeuvres, a four-course tasting menu, and a dessert reception prepared by Chefs Daniel Boulud (Daniel, New York City), Charlie Trotter (Charlie Trotter’s, Chicago), Patrick O’Connell (Inn at Little Washington, Washington, D.C.), Michel Richard (Citronelle, Washington, D.C.), Georges Perrier (Le Bec Fin, Philadelphia), Laurent Tourondel (BLT, New York City), Daniel Humm (Eleven Madison Park, New York City), David Myers (Sona, Los Angeles) and Traci des Jardins (Jardiniere, San Francisco), and will be paired with Diageo Reserve Signature Cocktails and Moët Hennessy Champagnes. The highlight of the evening will be a Dom Pérignon toast and the announcement of the Bocuse d’Or USA winning team. Tickets for the Gala Dinner are $450 per person, plus tax including gratuity, and will be available next Monday with all other Festival events. Proceeds benefit Bocuse d’Or USA (a not-for-profit organization sponsoring the competitors’ training, travel and culinary education).

Reservation-only festival events start at $55 (plus tax, gratuity included) per person. Entrance to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, plus wine and beer seminars, cooking demonstrations, Eat to the Beat! concerts, culinary exhibits and all attractions and park entertainment, is included with regular Epcot admission. Get those dialing fingers ready!!!

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 scales back gun ban, gets AG approval

Walt Disney World traded land for peace last week, modifying its guns-at-work ban to only include the Walt Disney World Resort property and in exchange receiving approval of their ban from Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. The company had been fighting compliance with the "Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008" since it was signed into law by Governor Charlie Crist early last month, on the grounds that it was exempt due to the fact that it held a Federal permit for storing explosives.

Disney had originally claimed that the final language of the law exempted "all theme parks, resorts, theme-park and resort parking lots, Cast Member parking lots, administrative offices across the Walt Disney World Resort, Downtown Disney, Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, hotels on Hotel Plaza Boulevard, Celebration and the Disney Reservation Centers" in Orlando and Tampa, but that Disney's Vero Beach Resort, Disney Cruise Line's crew-member parking lots and some other Disney properties in Florida were not exempt.

On Friday, Disney modified its exemption claim to exclude off-site locations such as the offices in Celebration and the reservation centers, allowing cast members at those facilities who have permits to carry concealed weapons to keep guns locked in their personal vehicles as long as the gun is not visible and is not removed from the car. The same day, McCollum's office stated that it believes that the new policy complies with law.

The main Walt Disney World Resort property still retains the gun ban for all cast members, whether they are on duty or visiting as a guest while off-duty. Guests with concealed carry permits may still carry guns in their cars as long as the guns stay locked in the cars.

The case of Edwin Sotomayor, who was fired for publicly challenging the ban, is still pending in the courts. Disney had fired Sotomayor for refusing to cooperate with their investigation of his allegedly bringing a gun onto Disney property in the trunk of his car. He sued Disney for reinstatement, but his request for a temporary injunction was denied. His request for a permanent injunction will be heard on October 16, and is also requesting a lifting of the permanent employment ban that Disney imposed on him.

Registered sex offender caught touching young girl at Downtown Disney

A 24-year-old convicted sex offender was arrested early Wednesday morning at Downtown Disney after grabbing the buttocks of an 11-year-old girl who was shopping at the Magnetron store on the West Side with her family. Jose Angel Pamblanco Morales, of Orlando, was arrested for lewd and lascivious molestation of a child under 12 years old.

According to an AP story (link), the girl had thought that her mother had touched her backside to get her to keep moving but saw Morales instead, who then showed her a cell phone picture of a woman in a bikini. The family then headed to the Virgin Megastore, where the girl's younger sister saw that Morales was standing in the same aisle as they were. He continued to follow the family after they left the store.

After the family complained about Morales, Orange County Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the area, where they found Morales in front of the BET Club on Pleasure Island. The victim positively identified him, and a subsequent check of the Florida Crime Information Center found that Morales was a registered sex offender.

He had been arrested in 2004 on charges of lewd and lascivious exhibition of a child under the age of 16 and exposure of sexual organs. He served 17 months of a three-year prison term and was released in May 2007.

Night of Joy concert schedule announced

The entertainment schedule for the 26th annual Night of Joy event has been set. This is the first year that the event will take place at Disney's Hollywood Studios after spending its first 25 years at the Magic Kingdom. The park will close to the public at 7:00 on Friday September 5 and Saturday September 6, and the event will run until after the final concerts are completed.

The event will utilize three stages: the Lights, Motors, Action! Stage (basically the area where the attraction takes place, with the audience in the grandstand), the Icon Stage (sometimes called the Sorcerer's Hat stage) and the Premiere Theater (the now-enclosed former Hunchback Theater, behind the San Francisco facade on the Streets of America Backlot). Here's the rundown:

Friday, Sept. 5:

  • Lights, Motors, Action! Stage
    • 7:15 – Brandon Heath
    • 8:15 & 9:45 – Chris Tomlin
    • 11:45 & 12:45 a.m. – MercyMe
  • Icon Stage
    • 7:30 – Britt Nicole
    • 8:30 & 9:45 – BarlowGirl
    • 11:00 & 12:15 – Rebecca St. James
  • Premiere Theater
    • 8:00 & 9:15 – Matthew West
    • 10:45 & 12:00 – Rush of Fools

Saturday, Sept. 6

  • Lights, Motors, Action! Stage
    • 7:15 – Red
    • 8:15 & 9:45 – Casting Crowns
    • 11:15 & 12:45 – tobyMac
  • Icon Stage
    • 7:30 p.m. – PureNRG
    • 8:45 & 10:00 – Marcos Witt
    • 9:35 – Gospel Music Association winner
    • 11:30 & 12:45 – Fred Hammond
  • Premiere Theater
    • 8:00 & 9:15 – Mandisa
    • 10:30 & 11:45 – Aaron Shust

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.

Advantage Vacation Homes announces special deals through September

How would you like to stay in a three- or four-bedroom vacation home with your own private pool for about the same nightly cost as one of the All Star Resorts? How about a five-bedroom vacation home for less than 60 percent of the cost of an All-Star Family Suite? From now through the end of September, MousePlanet sponsor Advantage Vacation Homes has a limited number of three-, four- and five-bedroom vacation homes, all with private pools, at a special low price of three-bedroom homes for $79 a night, four bedrooms for $89 a night, and 5 bedrooms for $109 a night. Remember, this is a limited offer, and only good through the end of September. When you reserve online or by phone, make sure to tell them that you heard about them on MousePlanet.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom:
    • Splash Mountain – modifications to the existing boat maintenance room at Splash Mountain to convert it to a boat abatement room. Scope includes removal of fence, patching drywall, replacing lights, installing new ceiling tile system, closing in and cutting out new vent holes, installing FRP wall panels, extending fire sprinklers to new ceiling height.
    •  Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – entrance queue floor rehab.
    • Emporium – clean/prep/repair canopy roof.
    • Toll Plaza bus lane – installation of a camera.
  • Epcot:
    • Future World – remove existing gray ceramic tile around Innoventions, replace with MMA.
    • The Land pavilion – replace the cell deck portion of the evaporative cooling system.
    • Electric Umbrella – upgrade hood fire suppression system at pizza oven hood and fryer hood.
    • Innoventions – IBM Think Place Marquee (WDI).
    • World Showplace Tent – repair and recaulk all exterior metal rib joints.
    • World Showcase – interative kiosks and Odyssey Bridge Graphics (WDI).
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios:
    • ABC Theater – terminations package and Marquee package (WDI).
    • Sunset Shops interiors – Remove/replace light fixtures, floor tile, partition wall, exterior plaster, doors, windows including all electrical.
    • West Block buildings – Remove existing roof and replace with new 3-ply modular bitumen roof.
    • Great Movie Ride Supersize Billboard Frame & Install (WDI).
    • Hollywood & Vine/'50s Primetime Cafe Kitchen – Replace existing refrigerator with new unit.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom:
    • Primeval Whirl – Various spot abatement for ride steel shoring attachment locations.
    • Flame Tree BBQ – Demolish existing planter and pour new hardscape.
    • Tree of Life Kids Discovery Club location sign replacement.
  • Cirque du Soleil theater – Recoating of stairs.
  • Walt Disney World Casting Building – Building egress illumination.
  • Tree House Rehab Project – Temporary Power at Laydown Area Concrete Slab.
  • Contemporary Resort :
    • Demolish concrete slabs and curbs that are damaged and replace with new.
    • Marina Dock Deck – Remove existing 3" x 8" PT deck boards and replace with new PT boards.
    • Marina – Demolish the interior of restrooms, enlarge, and rebuild new men's and women's restroom area.
  • Polynesian Resort Building 11 (Pago Pago) – Remove and replace emergency generator.
  • Grand Floridian Resort – Remove unit 5 and install a new Owner-furnished York air handling unit.
  • Villas at the Wilderness Lodge – General demolition, finish carpentry, sealants & caulking, painting, modification of Jacuzzi tub surround and low kitchen counter, reupholster of select existing upholstered furniture, refinishing/touch-up of select existing items, assembly & installation of new furniture, fixtures & equipment, installation of carpet & base.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort – Relocation of rental carts including electrical hookup at Reception Outpost.
  • Boardwalk Resort :
    • Repair and refinish hardwood floors.
    • Boardwalk Joe's Cart water supply installation.

Quick takes …

…Those wave machine repairs over at Typhoon Lagoon must be very extensive. Disney has moved up and accelerated the annual refurbishment of Blizzard Beach in front of Typhoon Lagoon, to September 28 – October 25. Typhoon Lagoon will then close from October 26 through at least January 31 (that's as long as the online schedules are reporting), and potentially as late as March 22.

…We reported earlier on additional dining options being lined up for the peak of the free dining promotion this year. We've got a couple of additions to that list. The Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station will again be open as a dinner buffet called the Tomorrowland Terrace Cafe from 5:30-9:00 p.m. on four consecutive Sundays from August 24 through September 14. Cash price will be $34.99 per adult and $17.99 per child ages 3-9, or 1 table service credit for each. In addition, the Diamond Horseshoe will serve dinner family style from 5:00-9:00 p.m. nightly from August 24-31 and September 13-25. That dinner will cost $28.99 for adults and $14.99 for children, or one table service credit each.

…The Expedition Everest Challenge is now 99 percent full and may sell out before this Update is published. The Walt Disney World Marathon is now 85 percent full.

…The Portobello Yacht Club will close for refurbishment on September 27 and will reopen on October 12 as simply Portobello, as it shifts to its new Trattoria theme.

…Four For A Dollar will have their last performance as the pre-show for Beauty & The Beast on September 20.

Stormstruck is now running at Epcot's Innoventions, though the small capacity can create long lines.

…Can't get to Beijing for the Olympics but dying for a souvenir? The gift shop at Epcot's China pavilion has a selection of Olympic merchandise.

…Tickets for the 2008 Old Spice Classic are now on sale through Ticketmaster (link). The Thanksgiving-weekend college basketball tournament at the Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex features Georgetown, Gonzaga, Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Siena, Tennessee and Wichita State.

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

  • 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, most recently targeted for August 13 but still not in effect. 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 October 26 through at least the end of January and possibly as late as March 22.
  • Blizzard Beach – closes for annual refurbishment September 28 – October 25.


  • Pleasure Island – all clubs to close permanently September 27.
  • Portobello Yacht Club – will close for refurbishment on September 27 and will reopen on October 12 as simply Portobello, as it shifts to its new Trattoria theme.
  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays.
  • T-Rex – opens in Downtown Disney in mid-October.

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.