Walt Disney World Park Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for September 15 – September 21, 2008

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

News and Views

MouseFest registration is now open!

Yes, it's the announcement that you've all been waiting for. Registration for MouseFest is now open at the MouseFest Web site (link). MousePlanet will again be an underwriting sponsor of the event. For more information on the events that MousePlanet will be hosting or co-hosting, see the box below. Go on over and register now!

Bay Lake Tower | "Tables in Wonderland" | College Program news | Bocuse d'Or gala | Stormalong Bay refurb | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort is one step closer

[The following was originally posted in my blog over the weekend, new paperwork was filed last week by Walt D isney World for the Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort, again confirming that the resort is a Disney Vacation Club resort, even if Disney will not confirm it yet. The paperwork was apparently signed on July 2, though it was filed with Orange County on September 5 and recorded and put on the county comptroller's Web site on September 8.]

While doing my weekly check of the Orange County Comptroller's site, I happened to come across the latest paperwork for that round building next to Disney's Contemporary Resort that still hasn't been officially confirmed (by Disney, at least) as the next DVC resort on the Walt Disney World property. The paperwork is for Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort, a Leasehold Condominium. The paperwork also says that Bay Lake Tower will be run by the Disney Vacation Club Management Company. (Note: one map on one document refers to the building at the Villas at Disney's Contemporary Resort, so the final name—regardless of what the condominium association is called—may still change.)

The paperwork includes the Master Declaration of Covenants, the Declaration of Condominium, diagrams mapping out Phase 2 (Phase 1 is the first-floor public areas), Memorandum of Ground Lease, Common Facilities Agreement, Master Cotenancy Agreement, and non-exclusive easements for utilities and access.

It'll take a while to digest all of this paperwork, but for now I'm going to guess that an announcement is imminent. Perhaps at that reported press event in New York City next Thursday or the Walt Disney World 2008 Media Briefing on September 24. We'll have to wait and see.

...One additional note: the DVC Membership Agreement within the Declaration of Condominium document indicates that memberships will be valid through January 31, 2060.

Disney Dining Experience becomes "Tables in Wonderland"

[The following was posted on my blog last Thursday, I noted a change to the name of the Disney Dining Experience.]

An email just received from the Disney Dining Experience team has announced that, in harmony with the Food & Wine Festival's Cities in Wonderland theme this year, the Disney Dining Experience will be renamed Tables in Wonderland as of September 15.

This new name will not alter any of your current benefits. We have simply decided to do this to help distinguish your membership from any other dining privileges at Walt Disney World Resort that bares [sic] a similar name to the Disney Dining Experience.

In other words, people were getting confused between the Disney Dining Experience and the Disney Dining Plan. The confusion is certainly understandable, especially for those guests who do not visit regularly. But ... "Tables in Wonderland"? That just doesn't sound like a discount dining club. I suppose that I'll get used to it, but for now it just plain sounds weird.

In case you're wondering, you can still use your current DDE card until its expiration, at which point a renewal would get you a new TiW card. (See? It just looks wrong.)

What do you think?

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!

News From Cast Place: Latest From the College Programs

by Shoshana Lewin, staff writer, from a blog entry last Friday

Good news for chefs, entertainment hopefuls and anyone hoping to obtain credit for their work in the College Program at either Walt Disney World or Disneyland

From the latest College Program Newsletter:

Culinary Program

If food is a student's passion, culinary roles at the Walt Disney World Resort allow culinary students to utilize advanced cooking skills and learn from some of the best in the business. Students have the chance to gain technical skills, learn about the industry and work in a high-volume and fast-paced environment. To learn more, visit disneycollegeprogram.com/culinary.


The beginning of our recruiting season also marks the beginning of our Disney College Program Entertainment Auditions Tour. Who wouldn't love to leave work each day knowing that they left a lasting memory on a child by portraying one of our beloved characters? Entertainment roles at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort give our Cast Members the opportunity to make that magic everyday for our Guests and themselves!

Audition cities:

  • Anaheim, California
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Austin, Texas
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Orlando, Florida
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Rochester, New York
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Seattle, W

Interested candidates should arrive early to register and must view a presentation on campus or online prior to the audition. Times, dates and exact audition locations can be found by visiting our Web site.

New ACE Credit Recommendation for work component!

We have an exciting update that could broaden the opportunities for students to obtain credit for participating in our programs at the Disneyland Resort or the Walt Disney World Resort! The American Council on Education (ACE) recently granted the Disney College Program an official credit recommendation for the work component of the internship. Students could potentially earn up to nine semester hours of credit!

This credit recommendation was made based on the comprehensive training each Disney Cast Member receives as well as the participant's ability to apply this training into their daily environment. It was further determined that the skills participants gain while on our program will contribute significantly to their academic and professional careers beyond the program.

Additionally, this ACE recommendation provides the opportunity for more of our students to gain college credit for participating in our programs, allowing them to maintain their full-time status at their home educational institution.

[You can subscribe to blogs by MousePlanet columnists, including David Koenig, Mark Goldhaber, Steve Russo, Shoshana Lewin, Alex Stroup and Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix, by visiting the blog page on our MousePad discussion boards (link). If you are a registered user you can have the most recent blog posting from your favorite columnist(s) sent right to your e-mail, or add it to your RSS utility.]

Bocuse d'Or menu released

Walt Disney World has released the menu for the Bocuse d'Or Gala Dinner at Epcot's World Showplace pavilion from 7 pm. to midnight on September 27. Note that the $450 plus tax ($479.25) price of the dinner ticket also includes Epcot park passes for Friday, September 26 and Saturday, September 27 to allow you to enjoy the Culinary Competition, which will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. within the park.

Bocuse d’Or USA Grand Gala & Awards Dinner, Hosted by Al Roker and Dana Cowin, Editor-in-Chief of Food & Wine Magazine – Mix and Mingle with the Country’s Best Chefs and Dance until Midnight.

Cocktail Reception, Served with Veuve Clicquot Champagne and Specialty Cocktails by Diageo Reserve

  • David Myers – Sona, Los Angeles, CA: Kabocha Squash Wrapped with Smoked Salmon
  • Georges Perrier – Le Bec Fin, Philadelphia, PA: Mushroom Cappuccino
  • Traci des Jardins – Jardinière, San Francisco, CA: Specialty from Traci’s menu
  • André Soltner – French Culinary Institute, NY, NY: Jalousie d’ Epinards et Champignons Sauvages
  • Alain Sailhac – French Culinary Institute, NY, NY: Foie Gras Feuilletée, Caramelized Endives and Mango Brunoise
  • Laurent Tourondel – BLT Restaurants, NY, NY: Specialty from Laurent’s menu
  • Roland Muller – Food and Beverage Product Development at Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts: Grilled Duck and Armagnac Sausage, Black Lentil Dal and Red Curry Sauce in Phyllo
  • Scott Hunnel – Victoria & Albert's Restaurant, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa: Roasted Muscovy Duck with Fennel and Blood Oranges, Minus 8 & Smoked Bacon Vinaigrette

Dinner, Served with a fine wines, including Dom Pérignon Champagne

  • Patrick O’Connell – Inn at Little Washington, Washington, VA: Peekytoe Crab Salad with Caviar
  • Charlie Trotter – Charlie Trotter’s, Chicago, IL: Steamed Cod with Hojiimenji Mushrooms and a Ginger-Soy-Hijiki Sauce
  • Daniel Boulud – Daniel, NY, NY: Duo of Brandt Beef: Red Wine Braised Short Ribs and Seared Rib Eye
  • Terrance Brennan – Picholine, NY, NY: Artisanal Cheese Selection

Dessert Walk About by Walt Disney World’s Best Pastry Chefs and Guest Chefs, After Dinner Drinks and Moët and Chandon Impérial Champagne

  • Erich Herbitschek – Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa: Crepes Suzette, Strawberry Dumplings
  • Andreas Born – Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Baked Alaska
  • Stefan Riemer – Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort: Petits Fours, Friandises, Mignardises
  • Kelly Smith – Disney’s BoardWalk Resort: Gelato, Seasonal Fruit
  • Lothar Neumaier – Epcot: Champagne Sabayon with Tropical Fruit Tartar
  • Chris Vitanza – Disney’s Contemporary Resort: Hot Chocolates: Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake Martini, Lavender, Kahlua and Wild Honey with Homemade Marshmallows
  • Ewald Notter – Notter School of Pastry Arts, FL: Salted Caramel, Coffee, Passion Fruit Duchess
  • Mike McCarey – Mike’s Amazing Cakes, WA: Celebration Cake

Cocktail attire is requested for the gala. Tickets are still available by calling 407-WDW-FEST (407-939-3378).

Stormalong Bay to close in sections for refurbishment early next year

The Stormalong Bay pool complex at the Yacht and Beach Club will be closing in phases for refurbishment between January 5 and late March. The Flying Jib slide and pool area will be the first to close, and will be out of commission from January 5 through mid-February. Once that's done, the lazy river and other areas will close through early March. The final section, including the quiet lagoon and kiddie pool will be done by late March. Work will take place during daytime hours to avoid disrupting the sleep of hotel guests, so you may see and hear the work going on.

During the work, the three quiet pools at the resorts will be available for hotel guests. As before, while the Flying Jib slide is out of commission, guests can also use the Luna Park pool with its Keister Coaster water slide at the BoardWalk Resort.

Thanks to DVCnews.com for passing along the information.

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 Tinker Bell's Treasure Shop – Concrete Terrazzo irrigation, landscape rehab, includes electrical & plumbing.
  • Magic Kingdom Pecos Bill's – Install 8 new GAT terminals.
  • Epcot Imagination pavilion – Stucco repair, primer and two coats of paint on West building elevation.
  • Epcot Wonders of Life Body Wars – Install walls, door and pipes.
  • Epcot Living Seas Isolation Tank – Install new tank lift.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – Pixar Facades.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Oscar's stroller rentals – Install new fan coil unit and associated ductwork, controls, chilled water and heating water piping.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rosie's Kitchen – Fabricate and install new roll-up door to include removal of existing roll-up door. Scope to include paint and tile replacement to match existing.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Hippo Barn 5 – Install fish holding vaults behind hippo barn 5.
  • Blizzard Beach - Lottawatta Lodge – Repair existing damaged wood.
  • Blizzard Beach Beach Haus – Repair existing damaged wood.
  • Blizzard Beach handrail replacement – Remove existing ferrous steel handrails & install stainless steel in same configuration.
  • Downtown Disney Hanes Shop – Add walls & doors to BOH includes painting machine, floors, paint, millwork also electrical.
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge Boma and Jiko – Install water heaters at kitchen hand sinks.
  • Contemporary Resort pool – Install power, electric cable, and conduit for two new cabanas.
  • WDW Hilton at Downtown Disney – Construction of concrete islands and foundations for parking lot access equipment.

Join MousePlanet at MouseFest!

MousePlanet is hosting or co-hosting a number of events at MouseFest 2008, and we'd love to see you there! Here's a list of what we've got planned so far:

MouseFest 101 – Thursday, December 11. Mark Goldhaber will again co-host MouseFest 101 on Thursday, December 11, with Mike Scopa of AllEarsNet at a time and location yet to be announced.

Mega Mouse Meet –Saturday, December 13. MousePlanet will again host a table at the Mega Mouse Meet at the Yacht Club Resort Convention Center on Saturday, December 13, from 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. (we'll also be there during the Extra MouseFest Hour from 10:00-11:00 a.m.).

Epcot's Never Lands Tour – Saturday, December 13. David Koenig will host Epcot's Never Lands, a walking tour of the World Showcase that never was, from 3:00-4:00 p.m.

MousseFest 2008 – Saturday, December 13. MousssseFest 2008 will be held on Saturday, December 13, from 4:00-5:00 p.m. at Boulangerie Patisserie.

Mini-MouseAdventure – Sunday, December 14. The fourth annual Mini-MouseAdventure will be held from 10:00 a.m.-noon in the Magic Kingdom.

Hustle-tini Meet – Sunday, December 14. The second annual MouseStation Podcast Hustle-tini Meet will be held at the Pop Century Resort from around 5:45-6:45 p.m.

For more information on these meets, check out MousePlanet's MouseFest page.

For those who are not yet aware, the Mega Mouse Meet this year is moving to the convention center at Disney's Yacht Club Resort, and in conjunction with that there is a special rate of $243 per night plus tax at Disney's Yacht Club Resort (which also includes free MouseFest registration for all reservations of two nights or more). Payment in full for these rooms is due by October 31. See the MouseFest Web site (link) for more details.

Quick takes …

…Philadelphia-based insurance company CIGNA has made a deal to become the presenting sponsor of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend for 2009 and 2010. CIGNA will provide attendees at the Walt Disney World Health and Fitness Expo with information and activities to help them improve their overall health and well-being.

…The end date for the Typhoon Lagoon refurbishment is now on the official calendar on the Walt Disney World Web site. It'll be completed on March 21 and reopen on March 22.

…Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa was named North America's Leading Resort at the World Travel Awards (link), held September 6 at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort. The Swan & Dolphin itself was named North America's Leading Conference Hotel and Florida's Leading Resort. The World Travel Awards have been described as the "Oscars" of the global travel and tourism industry. All winners at the North American competition will compete in the world finals this December 12, to be held at Turks & Caicos in the Caribbean. The Disney Cruise Line was nominated for Leading Cruise Line and Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo was nominated for Travel Personality of the Year.

…Disney is working with the AARP to create more ways for grandparents to connect with their grandchildren, it was announced at the AARP's Life@50+ conference. Benefits may include discounts at Disneyshopping.com, unique AARP member experiences at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and Flower & Garden Festival and Disney's California Food & Wine Festival and other experiences in development. With more and more baby boomers becoming eligible for AARP membership, Disney is going after a growing market of older Americans.

…It's eHarmony.com or match.com for endangered species: Disney's Animal Kingdom, which manages 27 "studbooks," or guidebooks used to manage the reproductive plans of endangered species, is one of 20 sites testing a new Zoological Information Management System that will automate all studbooks into a central database managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. For more information, take a look at an article on the subject by the Associated Press (link).

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

  • Sept. 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


  • Morocco – Gallery of Arts and History closed for refurbishment July 14 – September 24.
  • Illuminations – the LED globe was removed from the show the last week of August for a major refurbishment, and is expected to return mid-September. The interim show, which runs about 10 minutes, uses a variety of low-level effects during the shortened musical segment where the globe was the center of attention.
  • 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. Rumors have the restaurant opening earlier than expected, perhaps as early as the end of September.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • High School Musical 2: School's Out – ended September 13, and 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 slide closed September 8–26. The pool itself will remain open.
  • Yacht and Beach Club Resorts – Stormalong Bay pool area under refurbishment January 5 – late March. The pool will remain open, but sections will close one at a time for work. The three quiet pools will remain open during that time, and the Luna Park pool at the BoardWalk Resort, with its Keister Coaster water slide, will also be available during the work on the Flying Jib slide.
  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort – Construction continues, with an opening expected in late 2009.

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 March 21.
  • 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 October 14.

Current Discounts & Promotions

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.

Gaylord Palms offers deep discounts through December

MousePlanet sponsor Gaylord Palms Resort and Spa is offering MousePlanet readers an even deeper discount than our usual 15 percent off of "regular" rates (which are already a deeper discount that you'd get by calling the hotel directly, by calling a travel agent, or by using Expedia, Orbitz or any other channel).

Check out these rates!


  • $99 (9/4 – 9/16, 9/19 – 9/23 and 9/26 – 9/30)


  • $99 (10/1 – 10/3)
  • $139 (10/8 – 10/11, 10/17 – 10/20, 10/29 – 10/31)
  • $119 (10/25)


  • $139 (11/1 – 11/5, 11/12 – 11/15)
  • $109 (11/20 – 11/30)


  • $109 (12/1, 12/14 – 12/15)

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.

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 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 are now available. 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.

For upcoming park events, please go here.

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