Walt Disney World Park Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for August 25 – September 1, 2008

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

[Editor's Note: Greetings from Walt Disney World! I'm trying not to let MousePlanet intrude too much on a famly vacation, hence this Update is a day late and a little short. I'll have more news and fresh photos for you in next week's Update after I return.]

News and Views

Four Seasons | Kim is Koming | Tropical Storm Fay | Movies, Magic a Mouse and More | More Disney World Moms

Four Seasons land deal closes

The addition of a Four Seasons Resort is now clear to proceed following the finalization of the sale of 298 acres of land from the Walt Disney World Company to Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. The property, as announced last year, will feature a 445-room Four Seasons hotel, Residence Club (fractional ownership vacation homes) and an 18-hole championship golf course (the existing Osprey Pines course will be enhanced, while the Eagle Pines course is being plowed under to accommodate the construction. In addition, custom single- and multi-family vacation homes will also be built on the site.

The Four Seasons will be built in "Palm Beach" style, with barrel-tiled roofs, columned archways, keystone walls and carved stonework. Site preparation began earlier this year, with vertical construction slated for next year. The project will be built in phases over the next 8-10 years, with the hotel slated to open by 2012.

The Four Seasons hotel will be done in the "Palm Beach: style, as depicted in this rendering.

Kim Possible is finally officially coming to Epcot at Walt Disney World!

As I noted in my blog last week, after many months of speculation and monitoring of construction permits and kiosk installation, fans of the popular Disney Channel animated series Disney’s Kim Possible will finally get to join Team Possible in late 2008, when Disney’s Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure will officially join the entertainment line-up at Walt Disney World' Epcot.

According to Disney's official press release, "[a]s guests embark on this international adventure, they will receive an official 'Kimmunicator,' at kiosks throughout Epcot. The interactive, handheld device is designed to help them maneuver through the mission. Using state-of-the-art technology, the interactive device connects guests with a variety of Kim Possible characters who provide clues to stop villains from taking over the world. The highly interactive devices also allow guests to control top-secret equipment hidden inside the World Showcase pavilions, creating an ultra-interactive adventure jam-packed with mystery and excitement."

Guests can play Disney’s Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure in seven of the World Showcase pavilions: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Japan, France and United Kingdom. Each pavilion features a unique mission including distinctive visual events and a different super villain from the animated series. The four World Showcase pavilions not involved in the game are Italy, the American Adventure, Morocco and Canada.

Why is Disney creating an entertainment experience that will have guests looking at screens instead of scenes? "Today's emerging generation expects more immersive personal and interactive experiences in every facet of their lives, including their entertainment choices," added Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive at Walt Disney Imagineering in a statement. "As leaders in family entertainment, Disney theme parks push the envelope by combining state-of-the-art technology with creative storytelling to enhance the overall Disney vacation experience."

While I might not spend time doing this on a first visit to Walt Disney World, with a great deal of experience under my belt and a desire to find new things to do, I might very well grab a Kimmunicator, get in touch with Wade and buddy up with Kim Possible and Ron Stoppable to save the world from the likes of Dr. Drakken, Duff Killigan, Señor Senior, Sr. and their evil cronies. How about you?

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!

Fay detours cruise ships, clears parks

Tropical Storm Fay closed Port Canaveral to all ships over 500 tons from Monday through Friday, causing the Disney Wonder and Carnival Sensation to make port in Fort Lauderdale instead on Thursday. The Norwegian Spirit diverted to the Bahamas on Tuesday. Disney and Carnival bused passengers and their luggage to and from Fort Lauderdale, though by all reports it went smoothly thanks to practice from engaging in similar maneuvers during the 2004 hurricane season.

Meanwhile, Fay must have frightened a lot of people out of traveling to Walt Disney World, as the crowd levels that we experienced on Sunday were very low and the performance of Fantasmic that took place a half-hour after park closing didn't fill the amphitheater until nearly show time. Monday crowds at the Magic Kingdom were down as well, with the mid-day wait of just 30 minutes at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Mickey's PhilharMagic being a walk-in at 1:00.

With the southern schools back in session, the economy in rough shape and a tropical storm blowing through, even the free dining package couldn't pull crowd levels up. This fall may turn out to be a great time to visit for those that can afford it.

A crane rises up in the middle of the Magic Kingdom as repairs on the Liberty Square bridge near completion. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Movies, Magic a Mouse and More

The Movies, Magic, a Mouse and More collection debuted late last week at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The collection pays tribute to Disney classics Fantasia and and features work by popular Disney artists such as Dave Avanzino, Randy Noble, Costa Alavezos and more.

Avanzino contributed the event's title piece, Movies, Magic, a Mouse and More—a mixed-media paper sculpture that is available in a very limited edition of 10. Noble contributed several piece, including two sculptures based on the the Thistle Boys from the "RUssian Dance" segment and the fish from the "Arabian Dance," each with a limited edition of 150 pieces, as well as a limited edition "Fantasia Montage" giclee, available in a limited edition of 20. Alavezos's contribution to the project is a sculpture of Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) with Flora, Fauna and Merriweather, which comes with two Aurora figures—one with a blue dress and one with a pink dress—as the fairies debate over which color the dress should be.

You can get more information on this collection at the Disney Gallery Web site (link).

Work continues on Bay Lake Tower, targeted for completion late next year. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Second Walt Disney World Moms panel to be selected for next year

Those who weren't able to get their entry in before the competition closed last year will have another chance when the second set of moms is selected this fall. After selecting 12 moms (or, rather, 11 moms and one dad) for the first year of the program, Disney is looking for 16 moms and dads for 2009.

The application process opens September 8 and closes September 19, with interested applicants having to go to disneyworldmoms.com/2009 (link) and answer a series of questions and three brief essays. The essays, as with last year, are about their family, why they are a great Walt Disney World vacation planner and their favorite Disney vacationing tip.

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.


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.
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Stunt Show – closed for refurbishment September 11–24.
  • 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!

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.

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

Fall discounts for all

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

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.