Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for May 11 – May 17, 2009

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

News and Views

Passholder rates | Food & Wine | Stitch | Star Tours 2.0 | Mother's Day at DAK | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Summer Passholder rates announced

Passholder rates for June 7 – August 8, 2009 have been released, but the prices aren't available for nearly all nights during that time span. You'll want to check for the specific availability for the dates that you're planning to travel.

Under this promotion, the starting rates at these resorts are:

  • Value resorts – $74 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights) and $84 per night (Friday and Saturday nights),
  • Moderate resorts – $109 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights) and $119 (Friday and Saturday nights)
  • Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge) – $144 (July 19-August 8), $174 (through July 18), and $194 (July 4 weekend) per night dependent on date
  • Studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, and Old Key West Resort – $164 per night (Friday-Saturday nights) and $194 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights).

The rates are valid on select nights only during that period. The Disney Dining Plan may also be added to these discounted reservations.

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 EJC 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).

Eric Pinder (formerly of the Adventurers Club) poses with the Little Chef Remy Animatronic figure at Les Chefs de France restaurant at Epcot's France pavilion. Photo by Steve Russo.

Food & Wine Festival starts revving up; Eat to the Beat lineup mostly set

The 14th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will focus on "Foodie Cities" of the world as the event returns to "Disney's Discovery Park" September 25 through November 8 this fall. With food from cities like Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Bologna, Bangkok, Wellington, Santiago, Marrakesh, Shanghai and New Orleans, guests will have a choice of more than 25 international marketplaces around the World Showcase Promenade.

This year's food portions will range from $2 to $7 in price, with recommended wine and beer pairings adding to your likely cost at each stand.

Puglia, Italy will present culinary demonstrations and "Adventures of Pasta and Olive Oils." Wine and beer tastings will also be on the menu, as well as the traditional culinary demonstrations, wine schools, and special meal events. The Festival Welcome Center (a.k.a. the former Wonders of Life pavilion) will again host the champagne and wine bar, educational wine seminars, celebrity chef book signings, festival marketplace and—of course—the festival wine store.

Special culinary programs planned so far include Celebration Dinners, Culinary Adventure Signature Dining, Celebrating Family and Friends in the Kitchen, French Regional Lunches at Bistro de Paris, Epcot Wine Schools, Food and Wine Pairings and Sweet Sundays, not to mention the extremely popular weekly Party for the Senses.

Those who enjoy live music with their food will be pleased to hear that the weekends-only concert schedule used during this spring's Flower & Garden Festival has been tossed, and there will again be music every night of the Food & Wine Festival. The Eat to the Beat concert series schedule is being finalized, but most acts are already locked in to dates. Newcomers so far this year are Richard Marx, Better than Ezra, Vanessa Carlton, John Waite, and Billy Ocean. Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will lead off the series for the second straight year, while Los Lobos will again provide the series finale. Here's the schedule so far:

  • Sept. 25-27 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  • Sept. 28-29 – Richard Marx
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 3 Starship Starring Mickey Thomas
  • Oct. 4-6 Vanessa Carlton (tentative)
  • Oct. 7-8 Better Than Ezra
  • Oct. 9-10 Sister Hazel
  • Oct. 11 TBA
  • Oct. 12-13 Kool & The Gang
  • Oct. 14-16 Spyro Gyra
  • Oct. 17-19 En Vogue (tentative)
  • Oct. 20-22 Jon Secada (tentative)
  • Oct. 23-25 Taylor Dayne
  • Oct. 26-28 Boyz II Men
  • Oct. 29 John Waite
  • Oct. 30-31 Sister Sledge (tentative)
  • Nov. 1-2 Night Ranger
  • Nov. 3-5 Billy Ocean
  • Nov. 6-8 Los Lobos

Special event and program details will be available by late July at the Walt Disney World Web site (link), and you can start booking those events beginning August 11.

Stitch not off to a rollicking start

Well, Stitch's SuperSonic Celebration is now running, and most reviews to date have been tepid at best. It seems that most adults, at least, are somewhat nonplussed by the new 25-minute stage show performed six times daily in Tomorrowland.

The show starts with a 10-minute pre-show of a Tomorrowland News Network broadcast, with Stitch eventually appearing and interacting with the audience from the video screen behind the stage. Stitch talks to audience members and takes digital pictures of them, using similar technology to that employed in Turtle Talk with Crush and Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.

On-stage is host Tip Trendo and his Galactic Girls backup group, at some point joined by dancing robots. The audience (sitting in the hot sun with no shade anywhere near the stage) is at some point taught the "Stitch dance." Eventually, Stitch teleports to the stage in his Elvis garb for a dancing finale (where the guests put their "Stitch dance" knowledge to use). Be prepared for an unusual instrumental rendition of "The Best Time of Your Life" at show's end.

Please note that this story is not based on first-hand viewing yet, but rather reports from various folks who have already seen it and posted their opinions on the Internet. I'm still waiting to hear what MousePlanet's Steve Russo has to say about the show. Steve is not a huge Stitch fan, but he did have the opportunity to interview one of the folks behind the show during his trip last week. I'm sure that it will be an interesting article.

Dancing robots and Galactic Girls perform on stage while Stitch appears on the giant screen above the stage. Photo by Steve Russo.

Stitch appears in his Elvis garb at the end of Stitch's SuperSonic Celebration. Photo by Steve Russo.

Star Tours 2.0 on the way; no target date, though

It seems that Star Tours 2.0 is really a go. Several sources have reported multiple indications that production on a new film is under way. Frank Oz (voice of Yoda) has admitted recording some dialogue for the film, as has Anthony Daniels (voice of C-3PO). A visual effects artist has also stated that he's working on the film.

Slashfilm has reported (link) that there is filming going on in West Hollywood, featuring several characters from the original film. Rumors indicate that there might be 3-D filming going on. Of course, there is much to do after the actual filming and audio recording is done, so there's no real word on when the attraction's upgrade might actually take place. However, it's good to know that all of the hints that we've seen over the last couple of years weren't just misdirection but that they were indeed working on the film.

Cinderella's carriage sits near the entrance of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Photo by Steve Russo.

The parterres are beautifal as always for the Festival. Photo by Steve Russo.

Happy Mother's Day from the mothers at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Walt Disney World released a special Mother's Day video celebrating some of the more recent, notable births at Disney's Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge.

The breeding programs at Disney's Animal Kingdom have proved highly successful, and are helping to preserve endangered and threatened species.

We hope that all of the mothers and grandmothers out there had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday!

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 Tomorrowland Skyway building – removal and replacement of existing modular bitumen roof with new metal standing seam roof system.
  • Magic Kingdom Jack Sparrow Stage (former Steel Drum Stage) – installation of raised performance platform.
  • Epcot Innoventions – Raytheon exhibit - Kuka frame support package.
  • Epcot The Land pavilion – replacement of two existing beverage counters with new stainless steel counters.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Keystone Clothiers – removal of a section of wet roof to deck, installation of new.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom entrance – installation of camera electronic equipment.
  • Contemporary Resort pool, Grand Floridian Resort Beach Pool and Boardwalk Resort Luna Park pool – installation of slide launch lights including conduit.
  • Fort Wilderness Visual Display Complex – installation of a card access reader.
  • Yacht Club Resort – general demolition, finish carpentry, sealants & caulking, painting, reupholstery of select existing upholstered furniture, refinishing/touch-up of select existing items, installation of carpet and base.
  • Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village – Parapet and balcony access work.
  • All Star Resort, Pop Century Resort and Wide World of Sports Complex – installation of new Verizon celluar antennae.


Last week, we listed October 29 as a night for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. Sue Pisaturo of MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations (link), our original information source, has informed us that Disney has deleted that date from the list of parties, and there will be no Halloween Party that night.

The Treehouse Villas are preparing for their grand opening early next month. Photo by Steve Russo.

The Villas are considered part of the Saratoga Springs DVC resort. Photo by Steve Russo.

The spacious decks provide plenty of space for outdoor relaxing or barbecueing. Photo by Steve Russo.

The Villas extend from the riverside all the way up to the edge of the golf course. Photo by Steve Russo.

Quick takes …

…Interesting to note amid the construction permits listed above is that a raised stage will be constructed for Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial, likely to make it easier for those a couple of rows back to see.

…Also of special note in the construction information is the refurbishment of rooms at the Yacht Club Resort.

…It appears that there have been some changes to the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade. The villains float has been removed, but a huge character cavalcade has been added in its place. Show stops have been jazzed up, as well. If you've seen it, please let us know what you think.

…Two young competition winners were crowned last Friday, as Bobby Shen won the 2009 Raytheon MathCounts National Competition at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort while Catherine Ralston took top honors at Hasbro's Easy-Bake 2009 "Baker of the Year" Contest at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.

…Today, Disney will reveal information about its "Shine On" campaign to reinvest in the Central Florida community. We'll have more on it next week. You can check the Shine On Web site (link) for more information.

…Registration has now opened for the 2010 Disney's Princess Half-Marathon, which will take place on Sunday, March 7, 2010 (link).

…The 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon is now full. Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is 80 percent full (7,500 capacity). The Marathon itself is now at 50 percent of capacity. Time is running out! Register now (link)!

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Jonathan Heigl's Trivia Tidbit of the Week:

Walt’s vision for Epcot (the city) was to hold 20,000 people. Also, his vision was to have everyone employed.

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 up

  • Mar. 18-May 31. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (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).
  • Mar. 7, 2010. Disney's Princess Half-Marathon (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 through August 19, 2009 for refurbishment and Space Mountain's refurbishment.
  • Space Mountain – closedthrough 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 now open, 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.