Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for October 27 – November 2, 2008

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

News and Views

Halloween alternative | Mears bus hijacked | ICE | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Downtown Disney provides alternative Halloween festivities

If you're looking for a way to celebrate Halloween at Walt Disney World at a lower cost or earlier hour than Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, or if you've watched the event sell out without getting a ticket, you and your small-fry can head to Downtown Disney on October 30 and 31. On those two nights, the shopping and dining location will host a free Happy Haunting event from 5-9 p.m.

Candy will be distributed to costumed kids at World of Disney, Team Mickey, Mickey's Pantry, Disney's Pin Traders, Once Upon a Toy, Disney's Days of Christmas, World of Memories, Pooh Corner, Mickey's Groove, DisneyQuest Emporium and the West Side Pin Cart until supplies run out.

There will also be storytelling, a magician and a comedian in the Marketplace. From 5:30-8:30 p.m., at the "pumpkin patch" near Earl of Sandwich, the comedian performs on the half-hour while the magician performs on the hour. The storyteller will entertain near World of Disney at the same times as the comedian is on.

A DJ will play music at the Fountain stage during the event, and there will even be stilt walkers costumed as very tall skeletons. If you're looking for an alternative Halloween celebration at Walt Disney World, this should fit the bill.

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!

Gunman hijacks Mears bus to Downtown Disney

On Saturday morning, an armed man hijacked a Mears bus and forced the bus driver to take him to Downtown Disney. The driver was making several stops on her route and the bus was on the Central Florida Greeneway (S.R. 417) at around 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. when the man exited the restroom aboard the bus and pulled the gun on her.

The driver said that she did not see when the man got on the bus, but that he appeared upset.

She dropped the man off at Downtown Disney's West Side, then called 911. Disney security and deputies from the Orange County Sheriff's Office searched the area, temporarily halting bus service and water transport, for the man without success. The search, which included K-9 patrols and a Sheriff's Office helicopter, was called off at around noon Saturday, but the Sheriff's Office is continuing to investigate. Downtown Disney was operating as normal shortly after the search concluded.

The hijacker was described as a black male with a moustache in his late 20s weighing 150-160 pounds, wearing black jeans, a black sweatshirt, and a black baseball cap. No surveillance video or photos are being released at this time.

Win Lee Cockerell's new book!

Former Walt Disney World Executive Vice President of Operations Lee Cockerell has written a book entitled "Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney" that was released on October 14. You can check out the book review, as well as an interview with Cockerell on the MouseStation podcast, here on the MousePlanet Web site.

We'll be giving five copies of the book away to MouseStation listeners and five copies to Walt Disney World Park Update readers. To enter the contest for Park Update readers, send an email to Mark Goldhaber with a subject line of "Creating Magic" and give us your ideas on how we can create more magic on the MousePlanet Web site. Entries must be received by October 27, and the winners will be announced in the November 3 Park Update. Books will be awarded randomly to five email entries. You can send us as many suggestions as you'd like, though we'll only count one entry per person

Gaylord Palms presents ICE, with a special deal for MousePlanet readers!

If you're planning a holiday visit to Florida but the fake snow on Main Street, U.S.A. doesn't give you enough of that "winter" experience, you might want to visit the Gaylord Palms Resort, a MousePlanet sponsor, where ICE will feature more than 18,000 total square feet of space filled with—what else—ICE! The attraction will be filled with decorations carved from 5,000 blocks (or more than 2 million pounds) of ice by Chinese artisans.

The Gaylord Palms is running a special promotion where you can get a room plus two admissions to ICE for just $139. That gets you MousePlanet's special discount deal on your room, plus an additional discount on the ICE admissions. You can only get that "Just Chillin' ICE" discount by clicking here! If you don't want to see ICE and just want the regular MousePlanet discount rate, you can still get that by clicking here.

Remember, though, that ICE only runs for 49 days this year, from November 17, 2008 – January 4, 2009.

Renderings depict the audition process, the queue area and the main stage at The American Idol Experience, which is scheduled to open in January. All images © Disney.

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

Due to preparation time constraints, we've fallen behind in listing construction information. This week we're catching up in bulk, so here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last few weeks:

  • Magic Kingdom
    • Tomorrowland Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe – Sonny Eclipse dome – Replace the dome.
    • Tomorrowland Speedway – Install new bridge railings at overpass.
    • Frontierland Country Bear Jamboree – Replace curtain controller & animation breakout boxes. Relocate auto door controller.
    • Country Bear Playhouse – Replace windows, siding, flashing and wood beam.
    • Park Entrance Area, Main Street Town Square, Adventureland Jungle Cruise and Frontierland AVAC area – Install power receptacles in the areas indicated on the legal descriptions.
    • Sir Mickey's Beanstalk – Replace all faux beanstalk vines.
    • Tiki Elevator – Make repairs to the Tiki Elevator cylinder.
    • Main Street – cabinet installations with shroud and footer, includes all electrical.
    • Caribbean Plaza – Replace three sets of drinking fountains.
    • Main Entrance Car Care Center – Bus fuel facility – Install new retrofit sub purlin roof framing system over existing purlin system.
  • Monorail Building – Rework the header above the vehicle maintenance roll-up doors.
  • Epcot
    • Canada pavilion mountain – Clean and paint miscellaneous steel beams under rockwork.
    • Wonders of Life – Remove existing barricade wall, install metal stud wall, drywall & paint includes electrical.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios
    • American Idol – Operational package.
    • Toy Story Mania – Maintenance Bay Lighting Electrical
    • Pixar Billboard installation.
    • Pixar Place – Grey wall repairs.
    • Golden Age Merchandise shop rehab.
    • Playhouse Disney – Marquee package.
    • Narnia Meet & Greet – Addition, including building, electrical and HVAC.
    • Sid Cahuenga's – Remove existing wood shakes, replace with synthetic shakes. Repair and replace siding, repair beams, theme repaint, new hardi-board.
    • Backlot Express – Line existing sanitary pipes, add additional PVC piping, demo and repour concrete, add cleanouts, add floor sinks and install tile.
    • Backlot Express – Install the mechanical, electrical and plumbing utilities and the food service equipment for the two new soda beverage islands in the dining room.
    • Lights, Motors, Action! grandstand – Delete handrail extensions on rails at both sides for improved wheelchair and scooter access.
    • Liberty Mutual showset package.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom's
    • Petrifries – Remove existing kitchen equipment and replace with owner-furnished equipment.
    • Primeval Whirl – Time's Up sign fabrication and installation for side A & B of ride.
  • Blizzard Beach
    • Wave Chamber – Remove & replace existing rockwork.
    • Polar Pub – Replace rotten wood handrail - overall.
    • Ski Patrol – Replace roof with synthetic shakes.
  • Typhoon Lagoon
    • Miss Tilly's vessel – Remove & reinstall rockwork & support steel.
    • Castaway Creek at Crush 'N' Gusher Beach and Wave Pool – Wave pool replacement.
  • Downtown Disney
    • Hanes Design-A-Tee Marquee Sign installation.
    • Wetzel's Pretzels – Install fire sprinklers.
    • Forty Thirst Street – Install fire sprinklers.
    • Marketplace – Build a dimmer building to support the Dock Stage.
    • Guest Relations – refurbishment of interior of building.
  • Grand Floridian Resort'
    • Building 6 (Sugar Loaf Key) – Upgrade three elevators.
    • Rim lighting – Install access hatch at Porte Cochere ceiling, purchase/install new rim lights in 3 locations.
    • Buildings 6 (Sugar Loaf Key) and 7 (Conch Key) – Install new isolation valves for the hot water system.
  • Wilderness Lodge's Whispering Canyon Cafe – Install heat lamps over food serving shelf.
  • Villas at the Wilderness Lodge – Replace the existing pool and spa pool heaters with new.
  • Polynesian Resort's Great Ceremonial House – Install new sand filters and chemical injection system for the entrance pond.
  • Boardwalk Resort
    • Flying Fish Cafe – Stage light control.
    • Luna Park Pool Spa heater replacement and re-pipe.
    • Lobby slate floor replacement – Replace 18x18 inch green slate tiles in te lobby entrance with 40x40 cm green tiles.
    • Laundry awning extension.
  • Coronado Springs Resort
    • All buildings – Guestroom renovation including but not limited to the following scope: General demolition, rough and finish carpentry, addition of bi-parting doors, caulking and sealants, painting, carpet, floor tile, plumbing and lighting, installation of new drapery and furniture.
    • Buildings 1, 2, 4, 9A & 9B – Modify existing queen/queen headboard walls electrical device location to accommodate king headboard which includes the relocation of the switches, receptacles and sconces.
    • Building 9B – Business Lounge scope includes but is not limited to the following: demolition of openings in concrete demising walls, plumbing and electrical modifications, construction of toilet room and food holding area, construction of pargo turnaround.
    • Building 3 – Hospitality Suite scope includes but is not limited to the following: demolition of openings in concrete demising walls, plumbing and electrical modifications, construction of toilet room.
    • Reline the domestic hot water pipes with a ACE Duraflo (patented two part epoxy) pipe lining system (meeting requirements of ANSI/NSF Standard 61) in all copper pipes in lodge building Cabanas 9B (80 units) including DHWR in risers, DHW and DCW lines in attic, risers and branches and excludes Domestic Hot Water Return line in attic which is CPVC and any piping in the mechanical room.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort
    • Marina Water Tower replacement.
    • Alligator Bayou "A" Pool – Resurface interior pool finish of 2,050 square foot quiet pool. Install accessible handrails and chair-lift anchor.
    • Purchase and install two new rooftop chilled water handlers at the Riverside Commercial building.

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 …

…Walt Disney World's new dining reservations system appears to have been delayed again, as they've released just another few weeks of dining for advance bookings. You can now make Advance Dining Reservations through March 22. The next set of dates will reportedly be released on December 21. Thanks to Marisa G. from MousePlanet sponsor MouseEarVacations for posting the info to our MousePad discussion forums.

…Construction paperwork shows that the Coronado Springs Resort's rooms in all buildings are being refurbished, while queen/queen rooms in buildings 1, 2, 4, 9A and 9B are being converted to king bed rooms, perhaps due to the demands of those attending conferences at the resort. Business Lounges and Hospitality Suites are also getting upgrades.

…MousePad moderator Drince88 had the chance to play the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure yesterday. You can read all about here experience, including some spoilers, on our MousePad discussion forums. The game is still in test-and-adjust/sneak preview mode, but if you're heading to Walt Disney World, you just might have a chance to play it!

A Mission Pass distribution center for the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure features designs reminiscent of the animated television show. Photo by Cathy Sowa.


The Mission Pass distribution center is in Innoventions near a Kidcot Fun Stop, which is also themed to Kim Possible (left). Photo by Cathy Sowa.


MousePlanet reader Mary poses with one of the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure mission dispatch cast members in their new costume after completing her mission. Photo by Cathy Sowa.

High School Musical 3: Right Here! Right Now! opened October 24, replacing High School Musical 2: School's Out, which closed on September 13. The show (which still utilizes the caravan stage used for the first two High School Musical shows) features 14 performers, who perform six original songs from the new movie High School Musical 3: Senior Year.

…For more of that frontier experience, the Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground has added a new archery range, which is open on select afternoons. An archery guide offers training and tips to resort guests and non-guests, who will get 90 minutes of training and shooting (including equipment) for $25 plus tax. You can book this experience ahead by calling 407-WDW-PLAY (407-939-7529).

…Blizzard Beach returned from its annual refurbishment yesterday, while Typhoon Lagoon closed down for major refurbishment. The work, which includes repairs required on the wave generation machine, will have the park closed through March 21, 2009.

…MousePlanet has recently joined the Facebook nation. We're just getting started, but you can join the MousePlanet and MouseStation Podcast groups, or become a fan of MousePlanet or the MouseStation. If there's something that you'd like to see us do on Facebook, let us know!

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.26–Nov. 9. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
  • Oct. 28, 30, 31. Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom


  • 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.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • 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.


  • 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.
  • 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. The resort opens fall 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.


  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Gaylord Palms offers deep discounts through December for both room-only and room-with-ICE

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 the room-only rates below! You can only get them by clicking here. Rates that include two admissions to ICE (a $40 value) are just $30 more! You can get the special Just Chillin' ICE deals by clicking here.


  • $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!

Fall discounts for Passholders

Walt Disney World Annual Passholder discounts on rooms and dining plans are now available. 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

Free Dining this fall for Disney Visa cardholders

Disney Visa cardholders have access to a special deal—free dining for stays most nights from September 28 – October 11, November 9–22 and December 14–20. A limited number of packages have been allocated, so you'll need to book quickly. Call 407-939-7635 or your travel agent and ask for offer QXZ.

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.