Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for May 4 – May 10, 2009

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

News and Views

Swine flu? | Stitch | Party on! | Fall Race Challenge | Disney M&Ms | Construction update | Quick Takes …

One swine flu case confirmed in Orlando tourist – So what?

One case of "Influenza A (H1N1) virus, human" ("swine flu") was confirmed in a Mexican tourist in Orlando last week. The tourist had spent time visiting Walt Disney World and other tourist sites during their trip. Some with vacation plans are worried, some even to the point of planning to cancel their trips. Disney has reportedly even rerouted this week's voyage of the Disney Wonder to stop in Nassau instead of Cozumel, Mexico. Why?

While the nation and the world is in a "pandemic panic" over the spread of this illness, the fact remains that it is just another flu variant, albeit a new one, and there are a total of 226 cases identified in the U.S. as of yesterday, with one death. That death was a 23-month-old Mexican infant who was already sick when he entered the U.S. for treatment. Meanwhile, so far this flu season (since September 28, 2008) variants of the seasonal flu have infected over 25,000 Americans and the flu is estimated to be responsible for between 6.1-7.6 percent of all deaths in the United States during that time.

Does this mean that you shouldn't worry at all about the new flu variant? No. Just because it doesn't appear to be any deadlier or more infectious (at this point) than any other flu variant, that doesn't mean that you should not take any precautions any more than you should ignore the rest of flu season. We've seen numbers indicating that approximately 3 percent of those exposed to the new H1N1 variant actually experience flu-like symptoms. However, rerouting a cruise ship to avoid a known outbreak of a disease is a prudent measure, especially with the ship being close quarters after departure from the port. While you should go ahead and enjoy your Walt Disney World or Disney Cruise Line vacation without letting the public panic about the flu getting in your way, you should still practice standard hygienic precautions.

In a letter left in all Disney hotel rooms on Saturday, after stressing that sanitary precautions taken by Disney are more than adequate (which has been confirmed independently by the Orange County Health Department), Disney reiterates four points stressed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

If you find yourself suffering from flu-like symptoms, seek medical attention and try to avoid infecting others, but if you are healthy, please go ahead and enjoy your Disney vacation.

The rooms at the Coronado Springs Resort are receiving a makeover, brightening up the rooms a bit. Photo by Stephen Kropf.

The bright bedding and lighting look welcoming. Photo by Stephen Kropf.

The bathrooms look great, too. Photo by Stephen Kropf.

Stitch goes SuperSonic

You've seen photos of the stage and control booth going up since early this year, and now it's showtime! Stitch's SuperSonic Celebration, a live stage show in Tomorrowland, officially debuts on Wednesday, May 6, though it started preview shows yesterday.

The new show "celebrates everything worth celebrating around the universe in honor of 'Galaxy Day.'" The mischievous alien appears in animated form on a screen behind the stage, interacting with guests in a fashion similar to that used for Turtle Talk with Crush and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, while live performers portray party host Tip Trendo and his backup dancers the Galactic Girls, and more. The dance party will get the little ones up on their feet, while hopefully also entertaining the older set. The show is expected to run six times each day.

If you get the chance to experience this show, please let us know what you think!

Halloween and Christmas Party tickets are on sale now!

Tickets are now on sale for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. The Halloween Party will be held on 23 nights (down from 25 nights last year) on September 4, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29, October 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 27, 29 and 31. The Christmas Party will be held on 18 nights (the same as last year) on November 10, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 29, December 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17 and 18.

Tickets for both parties will carry a price tag of $52 plus tax ($55.38) for adults and $46 plus tax ($48.99) for children ages 3-9 with advance purchase. On the day of the party, the price increases to $59 plus tax ($62.84) for adults and $53 plus tax ($56.45) for children ages 3-9. For the October 9, 15 and 23 Halloween parties and the November 29, December 4, 11, 17 and 18 Christmas parties, there will be no advance purchase discount. For the October 31 Halloween party, tickets will have a special price of $64 plus tax ($68.16) for adults and $58 plus tax ($61.77) for children ages 3-9, with no discounts available. It is uncertain at this time whether the October 29 date carries the advance purchase discount.

Passholder and Disney Vacation Club member discounts will be available for the Halloween parties on September 4, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29, October 1 and 6, and for the Christmas parties on November 10, 12, 13, 17, 19, December 6 and 8. Those discounted prices are $49 plus tax ($52.19) for adults and $43 plus tax ($45.80) for children ages 3-9.

Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations (link) for the details.

A MousePlanet reader took some photos of the "Open Mouse" at the new Animal Kingdom Villas at Kidani Village. As at Jambo House, the lobby opens out to a savannah overlook. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

The overlook access is somewhat smaller than at the larger Jambo House facility. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

Main building facilities include the Johari Treasures gift shop. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

The Safari So Good arcade provides video gaming diversions for guests. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

Disney Endurance Series introduces the Fall Race Challenge

Disney has introduced a new endurance series medal to entice runners into entering multiple events this fall. The Fall Race Challenge medal will be given to those who complete two of the three fall endurance series events. To receive the medal, you must complete and record an official time in the Race for the Taste 10K and either the Expedition Everest Challenge or the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 13K event. Those running the Race for the Taste 3K or the Tower of Terror 5K will not qualify.

Registration for all three events is open now. You can get more information about and register for the Expedition Everest Challenge (link), Race for the Taste (link) and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (link) events on the Disney Sports Web site. You can also find out more about the Fall Race Challenge (link).

Community Hall provides Disney Vacation Club entertainment facilities. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

The bedroom decor is similar to that at Jambo House. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

The kitchen/dining room/living room area provides comfort in the villas. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

Disney introduces deal for custom M&M designs

Disney and Mars Snackfood have come to an agreement to produce Disney-themed "My M&Ms Memorable Moments" blends. Nine different blends will be available via mail order to help enhance your parties. Each blend features a mixture of four Disney-themed images and one trademark "m" design per bag. The four Disney images each contain one phrase and three character images, with the exception of the Disney Babies mix, which contains two each of Baby Mickey and Baby Minnie.

The special blends are available in 7-ounce bags (minimum order: 3) at $12.99 per bag, in 5-pound bags for $140, or in an old-fashioned candy dispenser filled with the blend of choice for $59.99. These can be seen and ordered at the My M&Ms Web site (link) or by calling 888-696-6788.

While a bit pricey for everyday purchasing, they may be just the thing for Disney-themed parties, weddings, etc. The following are the nine blends available:

  • Mickey Mouse – featuring two poses of Mickey, along with Donald Duck and the famous song line "M-i-c- You Know the Rest"
  • Disney Babies – featuring two images each of baby Mickey Mouse and baby Minnie Mouse
  • Disney Princess – featuring Ariel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty with the expression "Happily Ever After"
  • Disney Princess Wedding – featuring Cinderella and the Prince in silhouette and in a heart, wedding bells and the popular wedding phrase "Dreams Do Come True"
  • Disney-Pixar's Cars – featuring the film's logo, Lightning McQueen, Tow Mater and the catchphrase, "Get In Gear"
  • Disney Fairies – featuring Tinker Bell, Rosetta and Silvermist, with the saying "Believe In Magic"
  • Winnie the Pooh – featuring Winnie, Eeyore, Tigger and the familiar Winnie the Pooh logo
  • High School Musical – featuring the High School Musical logo, an East High megaphone, the East High Wildcat mascot and the phrase "Dive In"
  • Disney-Pixar's Toy Story – featuring Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Alien and the motto "Friends Forever"

MouseAdventure Walt Disney World registration is now open!

The first-ever running of MousePlanet's signature MouseAdventure event at Walt Disney World will take place on November 14, 2009! The day will begin with a private breakfast at the Odyssey Center prior to park opening. The meal will be followed by a six-hour fun-filled race around Epcot, giving you a fresh look at things in the park that you never noticed before!

The first part of the game will be in the classic MouseAdventure format, sending you on quests throughout Future World. After completion of that portion, teams will engage in an Enchanted Race around World Showcase to the finish line!

For more information or to register, go to the MouseAdventure page (link)! Don't forget to sign up for the MouseAdventure Newsletter to stay up on the latest MouseAdventure news (link)!

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Winnie the Pooh – all electrical work for people counting system.
  • Magic Kingdom Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – installation of new PVC conduit and provision of Beldon parts.
  • Magic Kingdom "it's a small world" – rehabilitation of facades to include any electrical.
  • Magic Kingdom Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor – replacement of 1 auxiliary heating unit.
  • Epcot Innoventions – Velcro exhibit HVAC package.
  • Epcot Innoventions – Way finding graphics package.
  • Epcot The Land pavilion – addition of electrical lighting poles for area.
  • Epcot World Showplace membrane structure – annual inspection of membrane fabric material.
  • Epcot America Gardens Theatre – new speaker wire for front of house speaker system.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios main entrance turnstiles – installation of fans and lights over far right and far left entrance turnstiles.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Lights Motors Action Stunt Show, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – addition of conduit and wire for receptacle.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Top Hat Cart – installation of power for cart.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom entrance – installation of security cameras.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kali River Rapids – installation of a system that will hydraulically push the guest with disabilities rafts into the center of the flume after they have been loaded.
  • Downtown Disney Disney Quest – installation of prefabricated, mounted map holder.
  • Downtown Disney Hanes Design-A-Tee Shop – reroute dryer exhaust, to include any and all electrical.
  • Downtown Disney McDonald's – installation of signs and exterior drive thru equipment.
  • Polynesian Resort Great Ceremonial House – repainting of wood cross beams at monorail station.
  • Wilderness Lodge – repairs to the north wall of the exterior.
  • Old Key West Resort – replacement of damaged playground equipment with new at Turtle Shack Playground and Building 55 Playground.
  • Old Key West Resort Spa Pools 1, 2 & 3 – installation of collector tank.
  • Coronado Springs Resort El Centro building – demolition of return air ductwork associated with auxiliary heating unit 17B on the roof and replacement with new double wall ductwork.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort Trinidad North bus stop – replacement of concrete and drain in roadway stop.
  • Doubletree Guest Suites – construction of concrete islands and foundations for parking lot access equipment.

The Samawati pool area at Kidani Village features a leaky water tank for the fictional Samawati Trading Co. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

The Samawati pool features steps at one end and a zero-entry slope at the other. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

The pool area features a wet play area for the little ones. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

Quick takes …

…During the special Imagineering talk given in honor of the 20th anniversary of Disney's Hollywood Studios last Friday, Imagineer Bob Weis showed an image of the original view down Hollywood Boulevard looking at the Chinese Theater, before the Sorcerer's Hat was installed. According to reports from attendees via Twitter, he then said something like "hopefully, we'll see this view again soon." Wild cheers followed. Take that bit of information as you will.

…If you're looking to meet Bolt, Mittens and Rhino from the Disney animated feature Bolt at the Magic of Disney Animation attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios, time is running out. The characters will only be there through Sunday, May 9. After a week without characters, the meet-and-greet inside the attraction will feature Carl, Russell and Dug from Disney/Pixar's Up beginning Friday, May 15.

…The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. (FLASH), opened an addition to their StormStruck exhibit in Innoventions. The new "flood wall" exhibit discusses important facts about flooding including ways for homeowners to prepare for flood and protect themselves from costly flood damage.

…For those planning ahead, this year's ICE! display at MousePlanet sponsor Gaylord Palms Resort (link) is scheduled for Nov. 14, 2009 to Jan. 5, 2010. If you've never seen this display before, you owe it to yourself to stop by. It's really cool! (yes, pun intended)

…A bill passed by the Florida Legislature last Wednesday will allow buyers to walk away from their mortgages if they lose their income. This debt-cancellation program is expected to increase timeshare sales, including at the Disney Vacation Club.

…Last Wednesday, the Florida Legislature voted to continue a public-records exemption for for certain proprietary details filed with government agencies. This means that blueprints, schematic drawings, building plans, etc. filed by major organizations can remain secret. The exemption has been in place for five years now, and is officially to protect the organizations (recreational as well as industrial) from acts of terrorism.

…For those wondering, Brandon Ryan Woll, the former server at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort who was sentenced late last November to 18 months in federal prison for the detonation of a pipe bomb in Downtown Disney in July 2007, is now serving his time at Fort Dix in New Jersey. He is scheduled for release next May 27, at which time he will have to serve 2 years of probation and 100 hours of community service.

…Planning a late night at the parks on Independence Day? You've got plenty of options. At the Magic Kingdom, "Disney's Celebrate America!-A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky" will explode at 9 p.m. on July 4, while SpectroMagic will be performed at 10:30 p.m. Meanwhile, Epcot will push things back an hour and show Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at 10 p.m. Fantasmic will run at 9:00 at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

…AdventuresbyDisney.com (link) was named the Best Travel Website of 2009 in the Internet Advertising Competition Awards, produced by the Web Marketing Association, recognizing creativity, innovation, design, memorability and impact.

…The 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon is now full. Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is 75 percent full (7,500 capacity). We're not sure how slots for the Goofy can be open with no slots in the Half Marathon, but that's what Disney says. Time is running out! Register now (link)!

The restaurant at Kidani Village is Sanaa, which means "work of art" in Swahili. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

The waiting area at Sanaa features views about as close to the savanna as you can get. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

The bar area provides African-inspired patterns, with a modern glow. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

The dining area is open and airy. Photo by Anonymous Disney fan.

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Jonathan Heigl's Trivia Tidbit of the Week:

Walt Disney World mows more than 2,000 acres of grass three times each week. That equates to about 18 trips around the Equator per year.

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

  • Mar. 18-May 31. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (link).
  • May 9. Muddy Buddy (link).
  • May 10. Danskin Orlando Triathlon (link).
  • May 15-16. Special Olympics Florida Summer Games (link).
  • May 17. Florida Half Ironman Triathlon (link).
  • May 22-Jun. 14. Star Wars Weekends.
  • June 15 - Aug. 9. Sounds Like Summer Concert Series.
  • Sept. 4, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29, Oct. 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 29, 31, Nov. 1. Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
  • Sept. 6. Trek Women Triathlon (link).
  • Sep. 20. Athletes for a Cure Triathlon (link).
  • Sept. 25 - Nov. 8. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
  • Sep. 26. Expedition Everest Challenge (link).
  • Oct. 11. Race for the Taste 10K and 3K (link).
  • Oct 24. Tower of Terror 13K and 5K (link).
  • Nov. 10, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 29, Dec. 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17,18. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • Nov. 14. MouseAdventure! (link).
  • Nov. 27 - Dec. 30. Holidays Around the World at Epcot.
  • Dec. 7-12. Pop Warner Super Bowl (link).
  • Jan. 7-10, 2010. WDW Marathon Weekend (link).

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • The Hall of Presidents – closed through July 1, 2009, major infrastructure upgrades, as well as for addition of President Barack Obama.
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority – closed April 19 through August 19, 2009 for refurbishment and Space Mountain's refurbishment.
  • Space Mountain – closed April 19 through November 21, 2009 for major refurbishment.
  • Walt Disney World Railroad – closed May 13-14 to allow movement of equipment and large parts into and out of Space Mountain..


  • 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

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Animal Kingdom

  • 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.
  • Bay Lake Tower at Contemporary Resort – Construction continues. The resort opens August 2009.
  • Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Construction continues. The resort opens June 2009.

Water Parks

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.


  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays. There will be no performances from May 18 through June 1.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Walt Disney World free dining deal!

From now until June 21, if you book a three- to fourteen-night, non-discounted Magic Your Way package, you'll get Disney's basic dining plan for free.

The offer is good for stays on most nights August 16 – October 3, 2009. Discount codes for the basic dining plan and available upgrades are as follow:

  • Basic Dine: RYH
  • Deluxe Dine: UGR
  • Basic Dine plus Wine & Dine: KEU
  • Deluxe Dine plus Wine & Dine: NZZ

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 June 21!


Disney Cruise Line offers "Kids at Half Off" deal

Disney Cruise Line now offering a "Kids at Half Off" promotion. The deal offers 50 percent off passage (plus government taxes and fees) for children ages 12 and under on three-night voyages when traveling with two full-fare paying passengers in the same cabin. The offer is valid on most sailings from April 11 through May 17 in a variety of stateroom cabins.

To book your "Kids Half Off" cruise, visit the Disney Cruise Line Web site (link), call 800-951-3532, or contact one of MousePlanet's Preferred Disney Travel Providers, MouseEarVacations.com (link) or Small World Vacations (link) and make sure to use booking code "KHO." For more information on other discounted cruises from MouseEarVacations.com, check out their list of cruise discounts for MousePlanet readers here on the MousePlanet site.

Gaylord Palms debuts new exclusive rate specials

While the special $119-per-night offer expired last Tuesday, MousePlanet partner Gaylord Palms Resort has followed it up with another great offer, this time valid for stays through the end of the year! For approximately 5 nights out of every 7 for the rest of the year, you can stay at the Gaylord Palms at the special MousePlanet reader discount rate (Reserve now!) of $129 per night. Even better, you can book these rates right up until the day you arrive! This new rate is even lower than Disney moderate resorts after June 6! Why stay off property? Because you can get luxury accommodations at moderate prices! These special low rates are available on the following nights:

  • March 11, 15–17, 21-29
  • April 1–13, 18–19, 24–27
  • May 10-11, 15–27
  • June 2–6, 9-17, 20–23, 28-30 ($139 rate)
  • July 1-6 ($139 rate), 7–18, 23–28
  • August 1–9, 13–15, 18–19, 22–27, 30
  • September 1-2, 6–8, 12–14, 18–20, 25–27
  • October 2–5, 13–18, 23–24, 29–31
  • November 3, 7, 12–15, 22-30
  • December 1-5, 9, 13–27

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 2009 released

Passholder rates for April 19 – June 6, 2009 have been released, with value resorts starting at just $64 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights), moderate resorts starting at $94 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights). Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge) starting at $164 per night and studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa starting at $154 per night (Friday-Saturday nights) and $199 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights). The rates are valid most Sunday – Thursday nights during that period.

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 EDB 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).

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.