Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for May 26 – May 31, 2009

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

News and Views

DCL bomb scare | "Robobama" | Disney goes off-site again | Kris Allen | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Bomb scare at Disney Cruise port terminal

MousePlanet's Mike Demopoulos was on board the Disney Wonder for a tour Thursday morning, and reported via Twitter that a bomb scare forced the closure and evacuation of the Port Canaveral terminal, as well as the closure of all roads leading to the terminal. As of 3:00 p.m. EDT the terminal had reopened for boarding. We received a brief statement from Disney Cruise Line spokesperson Christi Erwin Donnan: "The situation has been resolved and we expect to sail as scheduled today." The ship did depart Port Canaveral as scheduled.

See this thread on MousePad for details and updates.

Mike was interviewed on a special edition of our MouseStation Podcast, which is available for download.

This site is rumored to be the future location of a Luxo Jr. animatronic figure. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Seemingly lending credence to the rumor are the plug and the ball with Jr.'s name on it. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

"Robobama" readies for his appearance

Once again, Disney Imagineering has granted an advance scoop to the New York Times, which has an exclusive article about the new Barack Obama Animatronic figure that will debut at the Hall of Presidents in July 4 (link).

Disney Imagineer John Cutry programs an Audio-Animatronics likeness of President Barack Obama in preparation for the July 2009 re-launch of the Hall of Presidents attraction. Photo © Disney.

In the updated show, the new 20-minute movie before the roll call of presidents is narrated by Morgan Freeman. Following the introduction of the 44 presidents, three now have a speaking role.

The Animatronic Abraham Lincoln will now recite the entire Gettysburgh address, while the George Washington figure will also speak. Obama's speech will focus on the blessings of freedom.

The Main Street Arcade is covered by a decorative scrim while it undergoes refurbishment. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The Hall of Champions is similarly attired. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Disney buys land on Maryland shore

Last Friday, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced that it had purchased a 15-acre site overlooking the Potomac River for $11 million. The site, in National Harbor, Maryland, is to be home to a 500-room resort, though Disney has not yet announced details or a start date for the work.

Near the District of Columbia, the National Harbor development is a 300-acre complex, which will eventually contain hotels, residences and a convention center.

Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo and Peterson Companies chairman Milton V. Peterson share a laugh while looking at a model of the National Harbor development. Photo © Disney.

“As we began identifying possible locations to grow our business, the Washington, DC area immediately jumped to the top of our list,” said Jay Rasulo, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “National Harbor offers an array of entertaining activities for regional visitors, but it is also a family-friendly base camp, from which visitors around the world can explore the stirring sights and inspirational stories of our nation’s capital. We believe National Harbor has the unique opportunity to offer a new level of family-friendly hospitality.”

While there has been no formal announcement, it is largely believed that this Disney development will be a mixed-use resort, combining standard hotel rooms with Disney Vacation Club accommodations. This would follow the model set by the resort currently under development at Ko Olina in Oahu, Hawaii. That resort is scheduled to open in October 2011.

It would also not be surprising to see this resort pop up as lodging as part of an Adventures by Disney itinerary.

Work continues on construction of the stage for Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

These doors (located adjacent to on of the "eye spy" objects from last December's Mini-MouseAdventure) will soon open to allow guests into the Pirates League. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Newest American Idol Kris Allen "Going to Disney World" Friday

Kris Allen, the newest American Idol, appeared the latest in the series of "I'm Going to Disney World" commercials, and he'll be there in a matter of days. Allen, who won the title last Wednesday, will apparently be at the Magic Kingdom on Friday to appear in a parade, but there's no word yet on whether or not he will perform.

Allen follows in the footsteps of David Cook, the first singer to utter those famous five words. Cook went to Walt Disney World (along with 28 other former Idol contestants) for the opening of The American Idol Experience. It's likely that there will be an appearance by Allen at or near the attraction for a photo opportunity.

The entranced to the Tomorrowland Transit Authority is walled off until late August, when the attraction will again be able to transit through Space Mountain. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Space Mountain itself, however, will not reopen until November. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


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)!

Construction update

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

  • Epcot Liberty Inn – replace rusted part of gas main.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Mickey's of Hollywood – installation of closed circuit television.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Primeval Whirl – load platforms.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & spa – replacement of specified door trim and casings in the main lobby.
  • Beach Club Resort Riptide Lounge – change of decor to convert the space to additional seating for Cape May Cafe. Conversion of the bar to a server side station.
  • Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex – ESPN Innovation Lab facility package.
  • Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex – replacement of media fills and installation of a strainer in the Milkhouse Cooling Tower.
  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – repair of bulkhead (retaining wall) at Hole #6 and Hole #7.
  • Northeast Resort Parcel unbranded residential property – infrastructure construction.

Stitch's SuperSonic Celebration performs six times daily in Tomorrowland. Look for more on this show during an upcoming MouseStation Podcast. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Quick takes …

…Disney has now completed its donations of $700,000 to 34 deserving Central Florida charitable organizations. See the Shine On Web site (link) for more details.

…Central Florida has been in great need of precipitation recently, but it seems that Mother Nature is trying to make it up in one shot. It rained heavily and constantly for nearly two weeks. It seems to be settling back into the afternoon-only drenching pattern the last couple of days, so let's hope that the weather is back to normal.

…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)!

The most interesting turtle attraction at Epcot on Saturday wasn't Turtle Talk with Crush. A real, live turtle apparently swam ashore between Test Track and the Odyssey Center to lay eggs. Disney moved quickly to protect the nest. Photo by Vicki Kiskamp.


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Jonathan Heigl's Trivia Tidbit of the Week:

The Living Seas aquarium is the deepest body of water in Walt Disney World. The Living Seas tank is 27 feet deep, Bay Lake is 12 feet deep, Seven Seas Lagoon is 14 feet deep, and the World Showcase Lagoon is 15 feet deep.

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, for 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.