Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for June 22 – June 28, 2009

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

News and Views

Online dining reservations | Wishes dessert party | No more Stitch | Princess Di exhibit | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Walt Disney World launches online dining reservations

[You can read the original announced I posted last Tuesday on my blog.]

That's right, Walt Disney World has finally opened up online Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) to the general public following a successful trial with travel agents. Go to Restaurants portion of their Web site (link) to view all restaurants and make your reservations.

While this is now available, don't expect to grab a prime dinner seating for Le Cellier less than 90 days out (or 90 + 10). The busy restaurants still book up quickly. We're uncertain as of yet what time the booking clock ticks over, whether it's midnight or 7 a.m. Eastern time (when the phone lines open up). If anybody knows, please pass it along.

When you try to book a reservation, you will be able to search for up to 5 consecutive days at a time, and also select the preferred time of day for the reservation. You'll indicate the number of diners and the system will do the rest.

For those who don't want to pay for long-distance calls to Walt Disney World, or who prefer doing research without dealing with cast members, this will be a welcome change.

Happy dining!

Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations for tipping us off!

We've since confirmed that the reservation date for the 90-day period (or 90 + 10) moves to the next day at 7 a.m. (Eastern), putting those making online reservations on equal footing with those calling the WDW Dine Line at 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3563).

However, we have also learned that there is one glitch that Disney is working on repairing. The system is designed to allow guests to log in and attach to their hotel reservations to permit reservations for the 90 + 10 period. However, Disney Vacation Club reservations are not tied into the online vacation planning system. While Disney continues to try to figure this out, DVC members can make reservations within 90 days using the online system and can call the WDW Dine Line or DVC Member Services to make their reservations for the 90 + 10 period. While calling Member Services is toll free, they open at 9 a.m. (Eastern). If you want those Le Cellier reservations, you'll probably want to call the Dine Line, which opens at 7.

Thanks to DVCNews.com (link) for catching the DVC reservation issue.

In celebration of its 25th birthday, Cirque du Soleil held a record-breaking attempt for most simultaneous stiltwalkers in multiple locations this past Tuesday. Stiltwalking events were held at Cirque locations worldwide, including La Nouba at Downtown Disney, as well as Montreal, Las Vegas, New York, Brazil, China, Japan, and Portugal. Photo by Don Sullivan.

La Nouba stiltwalkers were joined by local amateur and professional stiltwalkers. The 100-yard course ran from behind the House of Blues area to the La Nouba building. The 119 Florida participants included about 75 Cirque cast and crew members. Photo by Don Sullivan.

Stiltwalkers of many types and height participated. It will take some time for Guiness to verify the record, especially because of the multiple locations. Photo by Don Sullivan.

Walt Disney World to test out new Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party

[Reported last Friday on my blog.]

Apparently, Disney will be testing a new Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party in the Magic Kingdom starting on Tuesday.

The test runs from June 23 through Saturday, August 29, "near" the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station. Our guess is that it probably will be in the Noodle Station's lower seating area and possibly the middle level, as well. There's really no other area that can accommodate the 160 people (maximum) that the party will allow aside from the smoking area, which would either tick off the dislocated smokers or the non-smokers forced to put up with the smokers.

The party will feature an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet and beverages, and will run from 1 hour prior to Wishes through the end of Wishes.

The cost will be $17.99 for adults and $9.99 for kids. Booking opens on Monday, and you can call the Disney Dining Line at 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3563) to make those reservations.

Party attendance is prepaid, and (as with the Fantasmic dining package), there will be no refunds if the weather causes a cancellation of Wishes. The dessert reception will be held regardless of weather.

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)!

Stitch getting the boot, not a tune-up

Last week, we reported about rapidly spreading rumors of the pending closure of Stitch's SuperSonic Celebration for retooling. Amazingly, it appears that rather than tweaking the show and rebooting it, Disney is pulling the show outright. The last performance will be this coming Saturday, June 27.

It's unusual that Disney would cut a show so quickly after spending so much time and money preparing for it, including the construction of a huge stage and tech booth in the open space just past Rockettower Plaza in Tomorrowland. Perhaps by making a clean break on Saturday, they will be able to show savings for the company's fourth fiscal quarter, which starts the next day.

For those who have never seen the show and want a better idea of what it's like, there's a three-part video on YouTube to give you an idea:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Princess Diana exhibit moving into Downtown Disney through November

The first new tenant of the former Virgin Megastore will also be a British import. "DIANA – The People's Princess," a major new exhibit of royal artifacts, will open early next month in the 17,500-square-foot location on Downtown Disney's West Side.

The exhibit is presented by The People's Princess Charitable Foundation, which was created to perpetuate her legacy of charitable endeavors. It showcases the life and story of the late Princess of Wales, and includes five rarely seen royal dresses worn by Princess Diana.

Guests will discover stories of Diana's childhood, her royal wedding, her impact on the world as Princess and her untimely death. Displays will include commemorative items and memorabilia.

"The late Princess used her globally renowned platform brilliantly,” commented Maureen Rorech Dunkel, founder of PPCF. “She understood that the many different experiences she had in her life, both positive and negative, made her more relatable to the public. She used this quality to connect to the common masses and in doing so became known as 'The People’s Princess.'"

"We look forward to The People’s Princess Charitable Foundation bringing this unique experience to our Downtown Disney guests," said Kevin Lansberry, vice president of Downtown Disney. "We remain committed to offering guests new and exciting experiences they can only have at the Walt Disney World Resort."

Tickets (available at the exhibit) cost $14.50 for adults, $5 for children ages 3-9. The exhibition runs through November 30, 2009, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Buzz Lightyear Meet-and-Greet – area development modifications including landscape, hardscape and electrical.
  • Magic Kingdom – modifications to one side of the cast gate near the transition from Fantasyland into Toontown.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster – guest queue line modification.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Pretzel Cart – installation of one new transformer and additional electrical to supply a second oven.
  • Contemporary Resort – upgrade of the seawall at Disney's Contemporary Canal.
  • Grand Floridian Resort – upgrade of the luggage storage room.
  • Boardwalk Resort – upgrade of the luggage storage room.
  • Boardwalk Resort Spoodles Restaurant – interior improvements.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground visual display complex – utility site work, installation of card access reader, build out and set up eighteen modular trailer units.
  • All Star Movies Merchandise/Package Pickup – installation of themed interior LED lighted sign marquee over POS unit.

Quick takes …

…The new Kids' Spot (mentioned in the May 18 WDW Update's Construction Update section) appears to be open now, themed to Walt Disney Records and sponsored by Hanes.

…Last Thursday, in the wake of the Los Angeles Lakers' victory over the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals last Sunday, Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton paid off on her bet with Disneyland President Ed Grier by walking down Main Street, U.S.A. at the Magic Kingdom wearing purple-and-gold "Go Lakers" Mouse ears with her name on them.

…Disney will often cancel parades due to inclement weather. But what happens when a torrential downpour comes in so fast that there is no time to react? Check out this blog entry by Matt Palm of the Orlando Sentinel for the answer (link).

…The 37th annual Special Olympics Florida Summer Games were recently held at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex, with more than 2,000 athletes competing in track and field, soccer, tennis, cycling, bocce and volleyball. More than 1,200 volunteers supported the effort, including many Disney cast members. Walt Disney World has supported the Special Olympics Florida Summer Games for 23 years.

…The 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon is now full. Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is 85 percent full (7,500 capacity). The Marathon itself is now at 60 percent of capacity and the Family Fun Run 5K is at 50 percent. Time is running out! Register now (link)!

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Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.
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Coming up

  • 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 through August 19, 2009 for refurbishment and Space Mountain's refurbishment.
  • Space Mountain – closed  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 buildings for the Disney Vacation Club's Animal Kingdom Villas is now open, with Phase 2 opening in September 2009.
  • Bay Lake Tower at Contemporary Resort – Construction continues. The resort opens August 2009.

Water Parks

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.


  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays.

Current Discounts & Promotions

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:

  • June  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 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), Small World Vacations (link).

Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.