Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for December 1 – December 7, 2008

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

News and Views

Port contract | DCL interactive | Pipe bombers sentenced | Leftovers | "Green" gifts | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Port Canaveral lets contract for Disney Cruise Line work

Work to improve the Disney Cruise Line terminal at Port Canaveral is ready to get underway as the Port Canaveral Authority Board of Commissioners awarded a $4.7 million contract to Misener Marine Construction of Tampa for work that includes building a deep-water sea wall, dredging and building additional moorings to accommodate the new, larger ships that will be delivered in 2011 and 2012. An additional $400,000 will be spent on engineering fees.

The Authority is also looking for bids for construction of a 1,000-space garage that is planned to begin in May 2009 and take just under a year.

Disney Cruise Line to get interactive game in 2009

We are seeing reports (link) that a modified version of the popular game that guests can play in the queue for Soarin' will soon be available on the Disney Cruise Line. Some time in 2009, guests will be able to play the new game during the Pirates in the Caribbean deck party. The modified game will have guests interact with a virtual Captain Jack Sparrow and then steer the Black Pearl through a virtual obstacle course, with visuals on the giant Ariel Vision screen on Deck 9.

Pipe bombers sentenced

Two men involved in the explosion of a pipe bomb at Downtown Disney in July 2007 have been sentenced to prison.

Brandon Ryan Woll, 22, made the bombs with Michael Robert Morgan, also 22, with instruction from Woll's stepfather, David Allen Tagg, 41. Tagg, Woll, and Morgan purchased smokeless gun powder at Bass Pro Shops in Orlando, then Tagg provided the tools and instruction for the two younger men to build the bombs. The first bomb was detonated in the middle of the night in a trash bin at Downtown Disney. A second was found near a busy highway. A reported third bomb has never been found.

Tagg was sentenced last Tuesday in U.S. District Court to two years in prison for aiding and abetting the possession of a pipe bomb, after being convicted earlier following a September trial. Woll was sentenced at the same time to 18 months in prison, after pleading guilty to possessing the bomb in August. Both men must serve two yeasr of probation and perform 100 hours of community service upon their release. Morgan pleaded guilty in July and was sentenced in October to one year in prison.

What did you do with your Thanksgiving leftovers?

While we try to figure out what to do with our Thanksgiving leftovers and how long we'll be eating them, Walt Disney World handles their leftovers by delivering excess prepared food each day through the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, which distributes food to needy families. Disney's truck delivers to 41 agencies each week. Last year, Disney Harvest served over 704,000 pounds of food.

"Green" gifts

The cast member merchandise team has chosen creative "green" items to promote as holiday gifts, including a basket made from recycled telephone wires for sale at Mombasa Marketplace at Disney's Animal Kingdom and Zawadi Marketplace at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Other items include organic cotton T-shirts and two styles of pesticide-free, herbicide-free, synthetic fertilizer-free and toxic defoliant-free tote bags. In addition when guests purchase plush hippos, tigers, elephants and more, and $1 from each purchase will go to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to help wildlife in Florida and around the world.

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).

Construction update

Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:

  • Magic Kingdom's Tunnel entrance – Installation of network cable.
  • Epcot's Energy pavilion – Upgrades to ride control, egress lighting and smoke detection systems.
  • Epcot's Norway Viking Ship – Demo Viking Ship, salvage props, safety deck material, back fill includes electrical.
  • Epcot's backstage marina – Installation of network cable.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom's Dinosaur – Replace 2 existing 250 ton chillers.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom's Maharajah Jungle Trek – Install food cart in new location. Includes all plumbing and electrical.
  • Typhoon Lagoon's Leaning Palms – Replacement of the existing Makeup Air Unit and ductwork.
  • Downtown Disney Entrance Archway – Repair/replace neon lighting.
  • Downtown Disney's Marketplace Dock Stage – Install new lighting equipment for stage.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace's 2 R's shop – Installation of two decorative signs 27" wide and 14" tall each.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – Construction of new Fueling Station.
  • South Service Area's Dog Kennel – Extend kennel area.

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!

MousePlanet/MouseFest shirts now available!

By request, we've created some special T-shirt designs for MouseFest! We've set up a separate CafePress store with those designs here. There's still time to order your shirt and get it before MouseFest starts!

Quick takes …

…Budget cutbacks are impacting the previously written-in-stone daily park hours for Epcot. From January 9 to April 3, Epcot will be closing at 8:00 p.m. instead of 9:00 p.m., with Illuminations starting at 8:00 and evening Extra Magic Hours will run until 11:00 p.m. instead of midnight. The Friday 9:00 closing time returns on April 10.

…Each year at Thankgiving, the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground sees something a little different from the usual tents and recreational vehicles that fill its campsites. A group of Native American enthusiasts called Lodge Owners erect life-size tepees in the Creekside Meadow area of the campground. This year, more than 20 families from as far as Pennsylvania and New York State returned to continue the tradition. The canvas tepees are assembled in a historically correct fashion, and many feature hand bead work.

…Walt Disney World Community Relations has invited 24 children from two local group homes to a sneak peek at new birthday celebrations being rolled out at Goofy's Candy Company in the Downtown Disney Marketplace as part of the "What Will You Celebrate?" campaign in 2009. First, a group of 12 girls will enjoy a complimentary party at themed after royal moments in Disney's Perfectly Princess Party. Later 12 boys from another group home will experience science experiments in Goofy's Scienterrific Birthday Bash. The hour and a half children's parties accommodate 12 guests and come complete with gifts for the "Guest of Honor," invitations, balloons, and more.

…Congratulations to Gonzaga University, which defeated Tennessee 83-74 to win the Old Spice Classic at the Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex last night.

…A 54-year-old electrical power technician died last week following a November 5 accident at Walt Disney World. Douglas Howell, of Rockledge, was injured while working at a power substation near the Swan and Dolphin Resort. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is still investigation the incident.

…Correction: Last week, we referred to John Lasseter as Chief Creative Officer of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios and Chief Creative Executive of Walt Disney Imagineering. His correct title at Walt Disney Imagineering is Principal Creative Advisor.

…By request, we've created some special T-shirt designs for MouseFest! We've set up a separate CafePress store with those designs here. There's still plenty of time to order your shirt and get it before MouseFest starts!

…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

  • Dec. 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • Nov. 28, 2008 to Jan. 4, 2009. Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
  • Nov. 28, 2008 to Jan. 4, 2009. Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade.
  • Nov. 28 to Dec. 24. Festival of the Seasons.
  • Nov. 28 to 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.
  • Ellen's Energy Adventure – closed for refurbishment January 5 – March 22.
  • 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.
  • Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure – has been delayed and will open in "early 2009."

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment January 4 – February 28.
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid – closed for refurbishment January 27– 29.
  • American Idol – under construction in the soundstage that formerly hosted Superstar Television and Doug Live!. Scheduled to open January 2009.

Animal Kingdom


  • 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

Walt Disney World Buy 4, Get 3 Free deal!

From now until December 20, if you book a four-night, four-day non-discounted Magic Your Way package, you'll get three additional nights (including tickets) for free.

The offer is good for stays on most nights January 4-April 4 and April 19-June 27, 2009.

As a bonus, if you travel between January 4 and March 29, you'll get a $200 Disney Gift Card that you can use to pay some of the costs during your stay. It's also valid at Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Store and disneyshopping.com.

Packages start at net prices of $46 per person per day for a family of four in a standard room at a Value Resort from January 4-February 12 (total package price $1,271). For February 13-April 4, the package price is $1,466 for a per day, per person cost of $53 at a Value resort. Those prices are based on families of two adults, one junior and one child.

Packages for other resorts and lengths of stay are also available.

Here's Disney's rundown on pricing and savings:

Disney Value Resorts Disney Moderate Resorts Select Disney Deluxe Resorts Select Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts
$1,271 ($316 savings)
Jan. 4-Feb. 12, 2009
$1,571 ($541 savings)
Jan. 4-Jan. 12, 2009
Jan. 19-Feb. 12, 2009
$1,981 ($848 savings)
Jan. 4-Feb. 12, 2009
$2,228 ($1,034 savings)
Jan.12-Feb. 9, 2009
$1,466 ($484 savings)
Feb. 13-April 4, 2009
$1,778 ($718 savings)
Feb. 13-April 4, 2009
$2,498 ($1,281 savings)
Feb. 13-April 4, 2009
$2,611 ($1,320 savings)
Feb. 16- April 4, 2009
$1,375 ($416 savings)
April 19-May 21, 2009
$1,666 ($634 savings)
April 19-May 21, 2009
$2,206 ($1,017 savings)
April 19-May 21, 2009
$2,363 ($1,135 savings)
April 19- May 21, 2009
$1,421 ($450 savings)
May 22 –June 27, 2009
$1,733 ($685 savings)
May 22-June 27, 2009
$2,206 ($1,017 savings)
May 22-May 25, 2009
June 2-June 27, 2009
$2,363 ($1,135 savings)
May 22 –June 27, 2009

Prices are based on two adults, one junior (ages 10 to 17) and one child (ages 3 to 9) in a standard room at a Value Resort, Moderate Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (Deluxe Resort) or a studio at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (Deluxe Villa Resort). Savings are based on the non-discounted price of a 7-night/7-day Magic Your Way package. The discount code for this offer is IUZ.

To book these packages, go to the Walt Disney World Web site (link), call 407-939-7928 or contact one of MousePlanet's Preferred Disney Travel Providers, Small World Vacations (link) and MouseEarVacations.com (link). Just remember to book by December 20!

Disney Cruise Line $99 double-dip offer!

The Disney Cruise Line has also announced a major deal, offering a 3-night Bahamian cruise next fall for only $99 per person (double occupancy) when you book a 4- or 7-night cruise on select dates this winter, when you book the first cruise by December 15. Eligible winter cruises have sailing dates from January 31 through March 8 and March 21 through March 28, 2009. The $99 3-night cruise (in the same stateroom category as the original cruise) is valid for dates between August 13 and December 17, subject to availability.

At the time of the first sailing, you will receive a voucher with instructions for booking your 3-night cruise. Those cruises must be booked between April 6 and May 30, 2009. At least one person from the original party much travel on the second cruise. You must use booking code FBO to receive this offer. For more information, go to the Disney Cruise Line Web site (link).

You can book through the web site, by calling 800-951-3532, or by contacting one of MousePlanet's Preferred Disney Travel Providers, Small World Vacations (link) and MouseEarVacations.com (link). Just remember to book your first cruise by December 15!

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).

A special $109 per night deal is available from November 20 to December 1 and from December 14-15. You can only get it 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.

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!

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).

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).

Passholder rates for early 2009 released

Passholder rates for January 1 to 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 – 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).

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.