Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for May 18 – May 25, 2009

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

News and Views

MouseAdventure | Summer at Sea | Passholder news | Parks merchandise | Shine On | Meet the Staff! | Construction update | Quick Takes …

MouseAdventure focus shifts Eastward

With Spring MouseAdventure now in the rear view mirror, it's time to look forward to our next event in Fall 2009, the first-ever MouseAdventure at Walt Disney World! Brave MouseAdventurers will descend on Walt Disney World's Epcot theme park on Saturday, November 14 for a day of fun and friendly competition.

The day begins with breakfast at the Odyssey Center before park opening. We'll run you through what to expect and then it's game on! This will be a two-part game. First, you'll complete a series of classic MouseAdventure quests in Future World, then take on an Enchanted Race around World Showcase to find and reach the finish line!

We'll announce results at a meet in the park on Sunday , November 15, and post them on MousePlanet.com later in the week. Winning teams will receive a pre-determined prize package, which will be shipped to the winners after the event. The meet will be held early enough in the day that those of you who will join us on the MousePlanet Cruise for MouseAdventure at Sea will have no problems making it to the ship on time.

MouseAdventure Fall 2009 pricing is $175 for a two-player team plus $30 for each additional player, up to a maximum of four players per team. For that price, you get an early morning escort to Odyssey Center, breakfast for all members of your team, plus the amazing, fun-filled six-hour game. The registration fee does not include park admission. You will need to supply your own admission media to enter the Epcot theme park for the day.

MouseEarVacations (link) is the official travel provider for MouseAdventure Fall 2009, and can make your arrangements for both the land and sea portions of the event.

For more information and to register for the event, check out the MouseAdventure page here on the MousePlanet site. We also encourage you to visit our MousePad discussion boards to ask questions of the MouseAdventure crew and fellow players. And once you've registered, don't forget to check in on the team list discussion thread and let everyone know that you'll be there!

Synergy on the High Seas: Disney Channel stars set sail on the Disney Wonder

Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix wrote on her blog last Monday:

The Disney Cruise Line, hoping to leverage a little corporate synergy to fill staterooms this summer, has just announced the inaugural Disney Channel Summer at Sea promotion. Stars from Disney Channel shows will be on board eight different 3- and 4-night sailings this summer, giving fans the opportunity to experience live performances, interview and autograph sessions and newly-created onboard entertainment.

The summer promotion is presented by Kodak, and "select video-blog reporters onboard the ship" will use Kodak cameras to post video updates on the promotion Web site during their cruises.

The list of stars scheduled to appear include:

July 9 sailing
Tiffany Thornton from “Sonny With A Chance”
Nicole Anderson from “JONAS”

July 12 sailing
Tiffany Thornton from “Sonny With A Chance”
Nicole Anderson from “JONAS”

July 16 sailing
Jason Earles from “Hannah Montana”

July 19 sailing
Jason Earles from “Hannah Montana”
Mitchel Musso from “Hannah Montana”

July 23 sailing
Jason Dolley from “Hatching Pete”

July 26 sailing
Jason Dolley from “Hatching Pete”

July 30 sailing
Debby Ryan from “The Suite Life on Deck”

August 2 sailing
Alyson Stoner from “Camp Rock”

Each cruise will have at least two Disney Channel stars; additional performers will be announced on the promotion Web site as they are confirmed.

Fares for the Disney Channel Summer at Sea cruises start at $679 per person for a Category 12 (inside) stateroom. Fare is based on double occupancy, and taxes & fees are not included.

If you have a High School Musical-mad pre-teen but the cost of a 4-night cruise is a little out of your budget, you can enter the Disney Channel Summer at Sea Sweepstakes. Eight winners will each win a trip on one of the eight Disney Channel Summer at Sea cruises (four winners will receive 3-night cruises and four winners will receive 4-night cruises). Winners also receive a special meet-and-greet opportunity with the Disney Channel star(s) on that voyage, and a prize package of Kodak equipment, including a Kodak Zi6 video camera.

10 second place winners will receive the Kodak Zi6 video camera and a digital frame.

Visit the promotion Web site for more information, to see the current list of stars and to enter the sweepstakes (link).

As always, we encourage you to contact a MousePlanet sponsor travel agency for assistance in booking your next trip:

Get Away Today


Small World Vacations

Passholders get the chance to pass along discounts

Walt Disney World is extending some interesting perks to Annual Passholders in the latest Mickey Monitor, the newsletter for Passholders. With the newsletter, Passholders received four "Passholder Pass-Along Savings Cards." These cards will provide a 10 percent discount on up to six new Disney Annual or Premium Annual Passports if purchased on or before July 31, 2009. Note that this is valid for new, full-priced passes only, not for renewals or discounted cards, though it is valid for upgrading Magic Your Way passes to Annual Passes.

For each pass that is purchased using these cards, the sponsoring Passholder will receive a $25 Disney Gift Card in August. A very thorough description of how this all works is provided by MousePad member Cheshire Figment (link). By the way, the first four people who would like one of these cards to contact me will get my cards.

But that's not all. There's the Passholder sale at World of Disney at the Downtown Disney Marketplace, starting at 6:30 a.m. on June 6. There will be doorbuster special sale items throughout the store, marked by yellow balloons. All will be ready when the doors open and when they're gone, they're gone. There will also be 50 percent off select merchandise items, plus super secret surprise merchandise offerings at the registers and a free gift to the first 1,000 guests.

There's also a special offer for those Passholders that want to head West to Las Vegas. A special rate for two nights in a deluxe room at the Mandalay Bay resort, two tickets to the new Las Vegas production of The Lion King, a $100 Mandalay Bay Beach cabana rental discount and complimentary child admission with each paid adult admission to Shark Reef Aquarium are offered starting at $216. Upgraded rooms, additional tickets and ticket upgrades are all available at additional cost.

Finally, back in Florida, there's a 30 percent discount on Category 2 admission for the Passholder and up to three guests to Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba, available for most performances now through June 27. Note that there are no performances from May 19-30.

You can see the Mickey Monitor or the Passholder Web site for more information.

Get your Disney Parks merchandise online

Did you get home from your Disney visit and realize that you left your child's mouse ear hat back at your Disney hotel? Have you discovered that you really did need another pack or two of tracks to build the toy monorail layout of your dreams? Well, now you don't necessarily have to call Walt Disney World Mail Order (407-363-6200, if you still want to call). A limited subset of Disney Parks merchandise is now available through DisneyStore.com (link). In addition to many different styles of mouse ear hats and the monorail and train sets, there are autograph books and related paraphernalia, some Big Figs and collectibles, a very few shirts, and other merchandise. There's no word yet on how wide the selection may eventually expand, but it's an interesting development.

Disney helps non-profits Shine On with $700,000 in grants

Walt Disney World is providing $700,000 is grants to 34 worthy organizations and recognizing 15 Dreamers and Doers Shining Stars across Central Florida as part of the Shine On program we mentioned last week. Disney sent "prize patrols" around the region to distribute the awards, including $60,000 and the Bob Allen Outstanding Community Service Award to the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.

Other awards went to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida ($50,000), the Orlando Science Center ($20,000), New Hope for Kids ($25,700), Adult Literacy League ($17,000) and Jewish Family Services of Greater Orlando ($15,000), among others.

The awards go to non-profit organizations that focus on children in four specific areas: connecting with adults, constructive use of free time, character development and compassion. Recipients are chosen by a panel of judges made up of Central Florida community leaders and Walt Disney World cast members.

The Dreamers and Doers program rewards outstanding students in Orange, Osceola, Lake, Polk and Seminole counties who are improving their communities through volunteer service in Central Florida. Nominees are submitted by schools and chosen by panel comprised of community leaders and Walt Disney World cast members.

Disney began presenting the awards last Monday, and will continue through this Friday.

Are You Game? 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)!

Meet MousePlanet staff at Walt Disney World this weekend!

At two separate events this weekend, you'll have the opportunity to meet MousePlanet staff at Walt Disney World.

Walt Disney World Resort Update editor, World View columnist and MouseStation Podcast co-host Mark Goldhaber will be hosting a meet on Memorial Day Monday, May 25, from 1:00-2:30 p.m. at the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station lower seating area. Come hang out and chat with Mark and other MousePlanet fans! There may also be impromptu opportunities to meet Mark on Monday and Tuesday; follow him on Twitter (link) to see where he is and where you can meet up with him. You can RSVP for Mark's meet via email or via Facebook (link).

Mike Demopoulos, Mark's co-host on the MouseStation Podcast, will be hosting an Illuminations meet at 8:30 p.m. this Friday night at the Torii Gate across from Epcot's Japan pavilion. Come, meet Mike, watch Illuminations, then enjoy the Extra Magic Hours that night! You can RSVP for Mike's meet via email or via Facebook (link).

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Peter Pan's Flight, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, "it's a small world", Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, Astro Orbiter – installation of conduit and wire for new people counter system.
  • Magic Kingdom Emporium – relocation of point-of-sale station within the existing shop.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Star Tours – installation of fall protection over six simulator carts.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster – installation of camera and monitor at queue.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Kid Spot – construction of a shade structure with a fabric canopy top. Structure will have fans and lights.
  • Contemporary Resort Convention Center – replacement of third floor chilled water coil.
  • Grand Floridian Resort – install new cellular antennas.
  • Beach Club Resort Rip Tide Lounge – change of decor to convert the space to additional seating for Cape May Cafe. Conversion of the bar to a server side station.
  • Beach Club Resort – replacement of two rooftop units with Carrier DX units and new ductwork. Replacement of auxiliary heating unit DX unit with a Carrier chilled water unti at the Beach Club Solarium. New chilled water line from the Beach Club Marketplace to the Solarium mechanical equipment room.
  • Boardwalk Resort – installation of conduit and wire for telephone line and wall repair.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Building 95 (Parterre Place) parking area – application of Grip-flex coating to parking lot and restriping.
  • All Star Sports Resort – completion of rehab at the Duck Pond and Surf's Up laundries.
  • Best Western Lake Buena Vista (Downtown Disney Resort) – removal of old roof on the mezzanine and installation of new TPO single ply roof by GAF.

Quick takes …

…An interesting note in the construction filings above is the installation of fall protection over the Star Tours simulators. One could wonder whether this is for maintenance or for the first stage of changes for Star Tours 2.0.

…Another interesting note is that the Rip Tide Lounge at the Beach Club Resort will be absorbed into the Cape May Cafe as additional seating. It looks like it's last call at the Rip Tide. If you want a lounge at the resort, it looks like you'll have to head down to the Crew's Cup Lounge over at the Yacht Club.

…A final interesting note is that a Kid Spot is being created outside the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster at Disney's Hollywood Studios. We have no further details on this yet. We'll let you know if we hear anything.

…It's going to cost a bit more to cool off at Walt Disney World this summer. Water park ticket prices have jumped $5 across the board. Adult passes to Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon have jumped 12.5 percent from $40 to $45 plus tax ($47.93), and passes for children ages 3-9 jumped 14.7 percent from $34 to $39 plus tax ($41.54).

…Those who were planning on heading to the Virgin Megastore later this month to grab some last items before the store closed for the last time are now out of luck. The store closed last Tuesday, nearly three weeks ahead of schedule. No word on why the decision to close early was made, but it may have been to allow Virgin to actually vacate the premises by the end of the month. Rumors of the building's next tenant have ranged from an expanded ESPN Club to an IMAX theater for the nearby Pleasure Island AMC 24 Theatres, but there has been nothing confirmed yet.

…If you're going to be at Epcot tomorrow, the grand opening of The Great Piggy Bank Adventure, a new exhibit at Innoventions, will take place at 10 a.m. Presented by T. Rowe Price, the exhibit will use a game to help teach sound financial values and habits to families.

…ESPN RISE, the network's high school-focused arm, is teaming up with Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex and Target to create the ESPN RISE Games, bringing more than 4,000 high school athletes competing in six sports (softball, baseball, basketball, football, lacrosse and track & field) to the complex at Walt Disney World from July 19-25 for a massive event that will have games televised on ESPNU and other ESPN Web outlets.

…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:

The tallest "mountain" at Walt Disney World belongs to Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

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 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).
  • Sept. 10-11. Night of Joy (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. 12-15. Children's Miracle Network Classic (link).
  • Nov. 13-15. Festival of the Masters (link).
  • Nov. 14. MouseAdventure! (link).
  • Nov. 26, 27, 29. Old Spice Classic (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 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.


  • 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!

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 offer 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.

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 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 EDB (through June 6) or EJC (June 7 – August 8) 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.