Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update for December 8 – December 14, 2008
Go directly to: News & Views | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions
MousFest 2008 | Fuel surcharges end | DVC goes with RCI | Scooter Vacations | Hello, gerenuk! | Construction update | Quick Takes …
[First, a quick note: Since I'll be at MouseFest this week, I'm going to do my best to get next Monday's Park Update out on time. There is a possibility that it will either be abbreviated or a day late, but I'll get something out for you next week.]
It's MouseFest time again, when all of the various Disney Internet communities come together at Walt Disney World to enjoy the resort together. You can check out the green box below for more information about MousePlanet's meets, if you haven't already. One new item is that we'll be hosting a MousePlanet-only meet next Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. We'll meet at the Soarin' Fastpass machines, then ride the attraction together. It'll be a great way to wrap up a great week of events.
We'd like to thank MousePlanet partners Advantage Vacation Homes and Owner's Locker for providing one week in a three-bedroom villa with a private pool and a locker with one year of unlimited visits, respectively, for our Mega Mouse Meet door prize this year.
If you're not going to be attending MouseFest but would like to feel like you're there, you can follow the various Twitter feeds being maintained by many of those attending. The official MouseFest 2008 Twitter feed is here (link). My personal Twitter feed is here (link). I'll try to update as much as I can during my trip, which starts tomorrow morning.
If you'll be attending MouseFest, I can't wait to meet you there!
A flurry of construction activity takes place behind the movable tree barricade as the stage is built for Regis & Kelly announcing the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade. The parade tapings took place this last weekend. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
A sign in front of the tree barricade tells of what the barricade is for. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Regis and Kelly's stage has a fairytale storybook feel, featuring small white trees. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The Disney Cruise Line has dropped its fuel surcharges, effective with cruises booked last Monday. The dropping cost of fuel triggered Disney's change, in accordance with the guidelines announced with the original surcharge. Cruises already booked may be eligible for refunds of the charges already paid, depending on fuel prices as the cruise approaches.
If the closing price of West Texas Intermediate fuel on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) is below $70 per barrel two weeks before the beginning of the calendar quarter in which the cruise departs, the Disney Cruise Line will refund fuel surcharges in the form of an onboard credit. The quarter of each cruise's departure will be based solely on the sailing date, and the cruise will only be considered to take place in one quarter.
The elimination of the fuel surcharge for new bookings applies to sail dates through the end of 2010, though Disney may reinstate the surcharge should prices rise again.
Thanks to CarolCruisingDisney of MousePlanet sponsor MouseEarVacations for posting the news on our MousePad discussion forums.
The "Sharing the Magic" statue of Roy O. Disney with Minnie Mouse has been safely relocated over toward Tour Guide Gardens. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The presents were stacked on the rooftops with care. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The lamp post wreaths look more like Oswald or Roger than Mickey this year. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The hub area is decked out for the season. Note the parade viewing stand to the left, probably to allow for elevated camera work during last weekends parade shooting. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The Disney Vacation Club has scrapped its exchange agreement with Interval International effective January 1. Instead, DVC will begin a relationship with Group RCI, the world's largest vacation exchange company. The new agreement will provide members with over 500 destinations in six continents and 25 countries.
All exchanges booked through Interval International by December 31 will be honored, but all available options will change for new bookings with the start of the new year. Members will receive more details by mail and on the DVC member Web site starting late this month. A new vacation planning guide will begin mailing in late spring.
"Group RCI has the management depth, technology resources and global marketing infrastructure to align with Disney Vacation Club’s strategic growth plan,” said DVC President Jim Lewis. “This relationship will provide our member families with the most diverse experiences possible beyond our signature Disney Vacation Club resorts."
While DVC's 135,000 member families will get access to RCI properties, 3.6 million RCI members will now also have the ability to exchange into DVC resorts and rent nights throughout the year. This may provide for even more of a log jam of reservations for DVC members. On the other hand, this may finally provide the alternative resorts that DVC members have been looking for in Paris and other destinations.
"It’s an honor for all of us at Group RCI to have been selected by one of the most internationally recognized and revered brands on the planet," commented Geoff Ballotti, President and CEO of Group RCI. "For more than 50 years, Disney has been offering unique family vacation experiences with legendary service, superb accommodations and magical touches at every turn. We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Disney Vacation Club members into the world’s largest vacation network and we look forward to working closely with Disney Vacation Club to continue to build new and innovative programs that will provide even more member benefits and opportunities."
Interestingly, RCI manages the Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort, the resort on the "keyhole" property surrounded by Walt Disney World, with its only entrance off of Buena Vista Drive between the Caribbean Beach Resort and I-4.
Epcot's tree seems almost sad without its usual stage set and "presents" theming. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The framework for the Lights of Winter has been erected, and the bulbs are already twinkling at night. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The themed decorations theme nicely against Spaceship Earth. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
We're pleased to help announce that MousePlanet mobility scooter partner Scooter Vacations has just announced their new partner referral rewards program. By referring a friend, family member or other Disney fan and providing them with a 10 percent discount off of their scooter rental, you can earn your choice of 10 percent of the value of their rental toward a future rental of your own or 5 percent of the value in a Rewards Gift Certificate in the form of Disney Dollars of an American Express Gift Certificate. (And you may be able to double-dip by getting your reward as a gift certificate, then using your MousePlanet reader discount of 10 percent on your rental, though we haven't confirmed that yet.)
You can alos choose to donate yoru Rewards Gift Certificate to Kids Wish Network or the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation, who support seriously ill children. (Scooter Vacations is the charitable mobility partner to these two foundations.)
You can get your personal referral code today and start earning gift certificates or credit toward your next rental by contacting Scooter Vacations via email (link) or by calling 1-866-77-VISIT (1-866-778-4647). Of course, to rent your own scooter, you can go to the Scooter Vacations Web site (link) and use code MP10 to get your own 10 percent discount.
The Christmas tree at Disney's Animal Kingdom sits right outside its gates. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Even Camp Minnie-Mickey's sign has been decorated for the holidays. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Santa Goofy has made minor improvements to his Jingle Jungle float for the holidays. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
White pieces added to a Jammin' Jungle float turns it into a Jingle Jungle float. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
A crane rises above Disney's Animal Kingdom, purportedy near Camp Minnie-Mickey. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Disney's Animal Kingdom welcomed its 28th gerenuk calf on November 16. The two-foot-tall calf, weighing in at six pounds, was born after a seven-month gestation. The female calf, named Presley, was born to six-year-old Tupelo, who has been at the theme park since 2004. They are both part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Gerenuk Population Management Plan.
The gerenuk is an African antelope with a long neck, which allows them to eat leaves off of a tree instead of savannah grass. Adult gerenuks generally grow to three feet tall at the shoulder and weigh between 80 and 115 pounds.
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 email@example.com (link).
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
- Magic Kingdom's Mickey's Star Trader-area restrooms – Gut existing restroom and rebuild to new layout.
- Magic Kingdom's Galaxy Palace Theater – Install a new CMU stucco finish wall and modify entrance.
- Magic Kingdom's Emporium – Addition to the existing Merchandise canopy.
- Epcot's American Adventure Liberty Inn – Self-service drink fountain installation.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios' Catastrophe Canyon – Replace existing rockwork on tram overhand & miscellaneous structural steel; replace facial channel.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios' Tune In Lounge – Remove existing neon sign and replace with new.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom's backstage – Install power for new hoist in giraffe barn.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom's Gorilla Building – Replace existing Gorilla Mesh with New.
- Typhoon Lagoon's Miss Tillie's tank – Replace existing pressure tanks and piping.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace's Building 1 (Art of Disney, etc.) – Removal of existing wood shake roof assembly, install asphalt shingle roof assembly.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace's Building 1, 2 R's – Design kiosks, pneumatic tube "start" box and overhead decorative lights.
- World Drive Northbound lanes from Epcot Center Drive interchange to toll booths – Mill and overlay ACC roadway.
- Vista Way between Fort Wilderness entrances – Mill and overlay ACC roadway.
- Transportation & Ticket Center's Monorail platform – Roof repair and roof coating.
- Contemporary Resort – Install entrance camera video vehicle detection system.
- Boardwalk Villas and Convention Center – Refurbish the exterior facades, install new asphalt shingles.
- Boardwalk Resort's Atlantic Dance – Replace four rotten windows and frames with aluminum.
- Old Key West Resort – Install and/or repair air conditioning units in buildings 11-64.
- Caribbean Beach Resort's Trinidad South buildings – Guestroom renovation including but not limited to the following scope: general demolition, rough and finish carpentry, caulking and sealants, painting, carpet, floor tile, plumbing and lighting, installation of new drapery and furniture.
- Port Orleans Riverside Resort's Luggage room – Relocate luggage cage, new overhead rolling door and install, demo & rebuild wing walls.
- Port Orleans Riverside Resort's Ol' Man Island pool slide – Replace fourteen columns, remove & replace wood purlins, metal roof & trusses, and paint.
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:
For more information on these meets, check out MousePlanet's MouseFest page!
MousePlanet/MouseFest shirts now available!
One of many Christmas trees at Downtown Disney is set up in front of Fulton's Crab House. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
An outdoor floral market scene shows seasonal colors. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Santa visits with children and pets daily in his home at Downtown Disney. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Construction work on the Dock Stage continues behind the brown walls. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
…Former Orlando Sentinel food critic Scott Joseph has reported on his blog (link) that Walt Disney World has replaced prime rib with whole strip loins on its buffet serving lines. This does not affect table service restaurants.
…There will be a new opportunity afforded to those willing to cough up some bucks at Atlanta Braves Spring Training. If you'd like to get even more up-close and personal with your favorite players, $75 will get you into an exclusive viewing area near home plate during batting practice in the "Kodak Spectator Experience." A limited number of fans will be allowed into the area for each game.
…This week, the former Portobello Yacht Club restaurant at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island will complete its transformation into an Italian country trattoria called simply Portobello. The project is expected to be complete on Wednesday. The restaurant remains open daily from 11:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
…While the general public can book a 4- or 7-night Disney Cruise this spring and get a 3-night cruise in the fall for just $99 per person, Disney Vacation Club members can achieve a similar deal using their DVC points. Members booking a 4- or 7-night cruise departing between January 31 and March 8 or between March 21 and 28 will be able to book a 3-night cruise on most sail dates between August 13 and December 17 for just 23 reservation points per person. As with the offer for the general public, the cruises must be booked by next Monday, December 15. Call Member Services or go to the Disney Vacation Club Web site for more information.
…Wolfgang Puck Cafe has announced a huge discount for all Disney Vacation Club members. If you're a member and have wanted to try the Cafe, now is the time. Until further notice, DVC members get 30 percent off lunch on Tuesday through Sunday and 50 percent off on Mondays (excluding alcohol, tax and gratuity). The discount is good at Wolfgang Puck Cafe and the West Side location of Wolfgang Puck Express between 11:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
…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!
Holiday flowers decorate Basin at Downtown Disney Marketplace. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
The interior of World of Disney is red-dy for the season. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
Once Upon a Toy shows ball ornaments on its tree. Photo by Bruce Danderline.
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.
- Dec. 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. 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.
- The Hall of Presidents – closed through July 4, 2009, major infrastructure upgrades, as well as for addition of President-Elect Barack Obama.
- The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – closed for refurbishment December 14–20.
- Splash Mountain – closed for refurbishment January 4–17.
- Dumbo The Flying Elephant – closed for refurbishment January 7.
- Mickey's PhilharMagic – closed for refurbishment January 18 – February 6.
- Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment February 21–27.
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin – closed for refurbishment March 2–6.
- 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."
- Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey – closed for refurbishment December 7 –13.
- 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.
- No currently scheduled refurbishments.
- 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.
- Typhoon Lagoon – Closed for its annual refurbishment October 26 through March 21. Major work is required on the wave generation machine.
- Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
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 – 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
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 – 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).
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 to 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.