Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for November 3 – November 9, 2008

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

News and Views

Election to affect attraction | Recreation price hikes | Late 2008 discount for all | Passholder discounts for early 2009 | Economy delays bowling facility | Construction update | Quick Takes …

U.S. Citizens to select next addition to Hall of Presidents tomorrow

Tomorrow, citizens of the United States of America will elect the next U.S. President, and in doing so select one of two busts sculpted by Valerie Edwards to be the next addition to the Hall of Presidents. As reported earlier, the Liberty Square attraction is readying for its next addition, which was sculpted by the protege of Blaine Gibson. Edwards, now the Director of Sculpture at Walt Disney Imagineering, prepared busts of both Barack Obama and John McCain in advance of the election to ensure that the figure would be ready as soon as the election was over. [Just another editorial note here: If you are a U.S. citizen, please exercise your right and privilege to vote tomorrow.]

In addition to the seating improvements previously reported, it appears that the entire show will get a makeover. Digital video projection systems will replace the old 70mm film projectors, making the historical film look new and fresh. LED lighting fixtures will provide clearer, more targeted light for the roll call of Presidents; the spotlight moment for each will also be longer, making it easier to spot each former Chief Executive as they are introduced.

The upgrade of the attraction is reportedly on the same scale as the major overhaul of other signature attractions over the last few years, including Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and "it's a small world."

While we had originally reported that Disney would revert to the show's original format of Abraham Lincoln being the only president to speak, it appears that they're going in the opposite direction. Not only will they attempt to convince the new president to record a speech for the attraction's update, George Washington will also gain a speaking role. As the attraction is not scheduled to return until July 4, 2009, there should be plenty of time to get agreement and a recording from the new president and program the Animatronic figure to match.

Some costs outside parks rise

Some recreation prices went up over the weekend. Two-hour bass fishing excursions, formerly $225-$250 (for up to five guests, including tax), are now $230-$260. Four-hour excursions are up from $435 to $445. Additional hours are also up, from $100 to $110. Junior excursions have been discontinued.

While single parasailing sessions remain $95, tandem sessions are up from $160 to $170. Water skiing is also up, from $155 per hour to $170 per hour.

Some watercraft rentals have also increased in price. Canoe and kayak rentals are up from $6.50 per half hour (including tax) to $6.93, while Sea Raycer by Sea Ray rentals are up from $31.95 per half hour (including tax) to $34.08 per half hour.

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 offers late discount

It looks like things are starting to slow down a bit, as Disney has rolled out an open-to-all discount rate good most Sunday-Thursday nights between now and December 23. The only missing dates are Thanksgiving week (November 23-27) and Pop Warner week (December 7-11). Value resorts start at $59 per night, which in some cases (like next week) appear to be below the Passholder rates. The number of rooms available is very limited, so even though the offer remains available through December 7, it's best to book now if you want to get one of these rooms! You'll need to either click "Special Offers" on the Walt Disney World site or ask for booking code DMK if you're booking via phone (407-939-7606) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are Small World Vacations (link) and MouseEarVacations.com (link).

Passholder rates for early 2009 released

Passholder rates for January 1 – February 12, 2009 have been released, with value resorts starting at just $49 per night, moderate resorts starting at $89 per night. Select deluxe resorts (Wilderness and Animal Kingdom Lodges) starting at $144 per night and studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa starting at $179 per night. The rates at value and deluxe resorts are valid January 2–15 and January 19 to February 12. Moderate resorts are available January 4–17 and January 21 to February 12. Saratoga Springs is available January 1 to February 12.

The number of rooms available is limited and minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday and Saturday arrivals. Reservations may be booked through the Passholder web site or by using code DYS if booking via the Passholder phone line (407-939-7722) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).

Economic slowdown delays Wide World of Sports bowling facility

The United States Bowling Congress announced last week that it had been informed that the 100-lane bowling center to be built at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex (soon to be renamed to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex) had been delayed due to the current economic situation.

The unnamed developer has been unable to secure financing to begin construction on the facility because of the constriction of lending markets. This will cause a delay in the opening of the facility from 2010 to 2012, displacing the USBC events scheduled to take place there starting in 2011. The USBC is now beginning a search for a new site for the 2011 Open Championships, and the first event to take place in Florida will now be the 2013 Women's Championships.

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's Hall of Presidents – Refresh show control package.
  • Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland Bridge – Install temporary construction bridge.
  • Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland Skyway Tension Station – Replace stairs to second level of the building.
  • Magic Kingdom – Paint the handrails at docks and ferryboat loading areas.
  • Epcot – Liberty Mutual electrical package.
  • Epcot – T. Rowe Price improvements demo package.
  • Epcot's Innoventions West – Rewire lighting truss.
  • Epcot's UK, France, Germany, Mexico & Norway pavilions – Install wireless antenna system for cellular service in building.
  • Epcot's Future World & UK pavilion – Form & pour concrete footer. Fabricate wood shroud, includes all electrical.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios' Pixar Avenue lamp poles – Install 120 volt outlets on new lamp poles for holiday decorations.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios' Hollywood Brown Derby – Replace existing refrigeration bank and refrigerant lines leading to coolers with new. Scope to include PSI test of lines, electrical component tests, and re-insulation of system as needed.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – Modify existing hotwire boxes with new configuration at multiple locations.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom's Conservation Station Train Station & Pangani Trail – Install stand alone cabinet on post with footer includes all electrical.
  • Blizzard Beach's Tube & Towel Rental – Replace faulty duct work.
  • Typhoon Lagoon's Mayday Falls – Rockwork repairs.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort Alligator Bayou West B pool, All Star Music Resort Piano pool, All Star Sports Resort Home Run pool and Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Loop pool – Replace the pool heater and screw-fitted gas piping with socket-welded piping.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort Alligator Bayou West B pool, Port Orleans Riverside Resort Alligator Bayou South C pool, Coronado Springs Resort Casitas pool, Caribbean Beach Resort Trinidad North pool and Jamaica pool – Resurface interior pool finish. Install accessible handrails and chair-lift anchor.
  • Downtown Disney's Cirque du Soleil – Install 4 permanent weatherproof receptacles for Holiday Wreath power.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace building 1 – Installation of 2 decorative signs 27" x 14" each includes all electrical.
  • Old Key West Resort's main entrance, service entrance loading dock, employee service parking – Installation of security cameras.

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.

Contest winners!

Congratulations to the winners of our "Creating Magic" contest! The five readers who were randomly selected (the selection took place live during the recording of tomorrow's MouseStation podcast) to win copies of Creating Magic, the new book by former Walt Disney World Vice President for Operations Lee Cockerell, are: Jenni Simon, Benny Fine, Kevin Sommer, Joe Turner and Max Clark. Thank you to everyone who entered and shared their thoughts on how we could add more magic to the MousePlanet web site. We'll be reviewing all of the suggestions and deciding which ones we'll try to implement. For the winners of the five copies of the book for podcast listeners, listen to the show or check the show notes tomorrow.

Quick takes …

…A sting operation in Polk County resulted in the arrest of 14 men on numerous counts of child pornography, including Paul Fazio, a 68-year-old gift shop employee at Disney's Animal Kingdom, who was charged with 50 counts of possession and one count of promotion of child pornography. A Disney spokeswoman told MousePlanet that "we take matters like these very seriously. He has been placed on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the charges."

…The Pixie Hollow meet-and-greet in Mickey's Toontown Fair is now open.

…Friday through Sunday, Downtown Disney will become the home of one of the top outdoor art festivals in the U.S. The 33rd annual Festival of the Masters (link) will feature more than 150 artisans and will have 6,000 square feet of sidewalk chalk art. Festival hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

…The Country Bear Jamboree has reopened from its refurbishment.

…Two in-park McDonald's french fry locations will be seeing some changes. Petrifries, at Dinoland, U.S.A. in Disney's Animal Kingdom, closed yesterday and will reopen on November 22 as Trilobites with an expanded, Disney-provided menu. Meanwhile, over in the Magic Kingdom, the Frontierland Fry Cart is reportedly closed through early next year to expand its menu and add an outdoor seating area.

…More than 200 Walt Disney World VoluntEARS worked with Keep Orlando Beautiful and the Ocean Conservancy to clear 3,560 pounds of trash and debris from the shores of Orlando's Lake Fran on October 25. Since Disney's first participation in the event five years ago, more than 1,200 VoluntEARS have picked up nearly 25,000 pounds of trash.

…Christy Conk, an animal keeper at Disney's Animal Kingdom, was named a Daily Points of Light Award winner by the foundation established by former President George H. W. Bush for her commitment to community service. She was nominated for the award by Walt Disney World for her service to HeRD (Horses for Riders with Disabilities) and for her service to The Friends of Lake Louisa State Park. Conk was named the 2008 Disney VoluntEAR of the Year earlier this year.

…As reported earlier, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo was inducted into the Travel Industry Association's (TIA) Hall of Leaders for his efforts to promote U.S. travel and tourism last Tuesday. Among other accomplishments during his two years as national chair of TIA, he led the creation of the Discover America Partnership (link), an industry coalition aimed at improving international travel to the U.S.

…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.
  • Nov. 6–9. Disney Golf Classic.
  • Nov. 7–9. Festival of the Masters.
  • Nov. 15–16. ABC Super Soap Weekend.
  • Nov. 28, 2008 - Jan. 4, 2009. Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
  • Nov. 28, 2008 - Jan. 4, 2009. Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade.
  • Nov. 10, 11, 14, 16, 20, 21, 30, Dec. 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • Nov. 27, 28, 30. Old Spice Classic.
  • Nov. 28 – Dec. 24. Festival of the Seasons.
  • Nov. 28 – Dec. 30. Holidays Around the World.
  • Dec. 5–6. Filming for the Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade.
  • Dec. 7–13. Pop Warner Super Bowl.
  • Dec. 7–15. MouseFest 2008 (unofficial event).
    • Dec. 7–11. MouseFest Cruise.
    • Dec. 11–15. MouseFest Land.
  • Dec. 31. New Year's Eve at Cirque du Soleil.
  • Dec. 31. Atlantic Dance Hall New Year's Eve.

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 – Closed for its annual refurbishment October 26 through March 21. Major work is required on the wave generation machine.


  • 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

MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are Small World Vacations (link) and MouseEarVacations.com (link).

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. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are Small World Vacations (link) and MouseEarVacations.com (link).

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. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).

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