Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for June 29 – July 5, 2009

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

News and Views

New discount announced | Pirates League | July 4 schedule | Immigration celebration/new Hall of Presidents | Pleasure Island party | Special Gaylord Palms deal | Construction update | Quick Takes …

New Walt Disney World discounts announced!

There's a new discount out there for roughly the same period as free dining, and in some cases (especially at the more expensive resorts) you can save more than if you take the free dining package! The deal is available for most nights for stays August 9 through October 3 (subject to availability), and must be booked by August 8.

Here are the codes to use:

  • Room only – TDU
  • Club level room only – JXR
  • Magic Your Way base – EQS
  • Magic Your Way + Quick Service Dining - RBS
  • Magic Your Way + Standard Dining - GBN
  • Magic Your Way + Deluxe Dining - JXP

There are also special codes for booking the package with Disney Visa cards:

  • Room only - EQT
  • Magic Your Way base - EQU
  • Magic Your Way + Quick Service Dining - JXQ
  • Magic Your Way + Standard Dining - UZE
  • Magic Your Way + Deluxe Dining - EQV

Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations (link) for tipping us off.

Pirates League officially opens today

After a weekend dry run, the Pirates League in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland is ready to take on new crew members starting today. Basically a "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for Boys," the Pirates League inducts a child into the pirate brethren by giving them an official pirate name, a pirate makeover, an official induction ceremony (complete with keepsake portrait) and a chance to grab some treasure before setting sail back into Adventureland to sack and pillage.

The location of the new Pirates League is the long-closed-to-the-public building that sits between the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and the Bazaar at the attraction's exit. It is themed to a building formerly owned by the East India Tea Co. but then taken over by pirates.

Makeover options include beards, eye patches, earrings, fake scars, removable teeth, hats, bandanas and other costume accessories. Three packages are available (including a pirate maiden package for girls), starting at $49.95, plus tax. The top package goes for $124.95 plus tax. Reservations are suggested, and can be made by calling 407-WDW-CREW (407-939-2739).

For a great overview of the whole process, check out DisneyShawn's blog (link), as he took his three-year-old twins to the League by invitation over the weekend.

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)!

July 4 pyrotechnics to light the sky

What would Independence Day at Walt Disney World be without special fireworks presentations? Special shows are on tap at the three parks that show fireworks (pyrotechnics at Disney's Animal Kingdom would panic the animals, not a good choice). Remember that crowd levels will be extremely high, as this is one of the busiest days of the year at Walt Disney World (especially with the holiday occurring on a Saturday this year). Parks may close their gates early due to capacity, so you should pick your park for the evening, get there earlier in the day, and plan on not leaving before the show is over.

The Magic Kingdom will probably be the most packed, so Disney presents you with the option of seeing the special show a night early so that you can avoid the park on the Fourth. The "Celebrate America Fireworks" will paint the sky in patriotic colors at 9 p.m. on both July 3 and July 4. Both evenings will also include at 10:30 p.m. performance of the SpectroMagic parade. Park hours on July 3 are 9 a.m.-11 p.m. (with Extra Magic Hours from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.), and July 4 hours are 8 a.m.-1 a.m.

If you catch the show at the Magic Kingdom a day early (or just want to avoid the crowds), you should have more luck getting in to Epcot or Disney's Hollywood Studios. Over at the Studios, a special fireworks presentation at 10 p.m. supplements two showings of Fantasmic at 9 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. Park hours on July 4 are 9 a.m.-10 p.m. (with Extra Magic Hours from 10 p.m.-1 a.m.).

Meanwhile, Epcot brings out the big guns to present a special patriotic finale (not to be confused with the "patriotic finale" at MuppetVision 3-D) to Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. As Epcot has the largest capacity of any of Disney's theme parks, this will probably be your best bet if you're arriving at a park later in the day. In anticipation of the usual huge Independence Day crowds the park will be open until 10 p.m. instead of its usual 9 p.m., and Illuminations will be shown at 10 p.m.

If you'd rather watch fireworks from outside the parks (the beach of the Polynesian Resort for the Magic Kingdom fireworks and the bridge between the Beach Club and Boardwalk Resorts for Epcot are popular spots), Disney's Animal Kingdom will be open until 7 p.m., so you can spend a full day there and still make it to a resort for the pyrotechnic conclusion of the evening.

Walt Disney World welcomes new citizens on July 3 with premiere of the new Hall of Presidents

Walt Disney World will again celebrate the Fourth of July with a mass citizenship ceremony on Main Street, U.S.A. More than 1,000 immigrants will gather early on the morning of July 3 to take the Oath of Allegiance and be sworn in as U.S. citizens. A keynote address will be given by actor Andy Garcia, and the new citizens will al then adjourn to the newly redone Hall of Presidents to view the first official show(s) of the new attraction.

The renovations at the Hall of Presidents are now complete. Photo by Don Sullivan.

The attraction features narration by Morgan Freeman and a re-done Presidential portion of the show, with there now being three speaking parts: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and the newly-added Barack Obama Animatronic figure. Lincoln now recited teh entire Gettysburgh Address, and Obama recites the Oath of Office as well as a new speech recorded in the White House Map Room.

George Washington now has a speaking role at the Hall of Presidents. Photo by Don Sullivan.

Early reviews of the new show are almost universally positive. There are likely to be sneak previews during the week leading up to the official opening on Friday, so if you're in the parks, you may want to stop by and check it out.

Barack Obama joins Abraham Lincoln and the other Presidents in the Hall. Photo by Don Sullivan.

We'll have more on this event next week.

Party down at Pleasure Island

Pleasure Island is finally seeing the return of some live entertainment with the debut of the Celebrate Tonight! street party, featuring DJs, stilt walkers and party crew leading group dances and sing-alongs. The party, aligned with the "What Will You Celebrate?/Celebrate You" promotion, will celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, family gatherings or anything else that you feel like celebrating.

The party will run from 5-11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday evenings and 6 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights in the West End Plaza of the Island.

It's not the return of live entertainment in the clubs or even Frankie and the West End Boys on the West End Stage, but at least it's something. If you get the chance to experience this new party, let us know what you think!

Gaylord Palms announces special MousePlanet discount rate!

MousePlanet sponsor Gaylord Palms Resort has announced a series of 27 nights for a special promotional rate of $119 per night. You can stay at a luxury resort for the price of a Disney moderate, just a mile from Disney property. Many other nights are available for $129 per night (link).

The following dates are now available at $119 per night:

  • June 28 – July 1
  • July 6 – July 18
  • July 24 – July 26
  • August 7 – August 8
  • August 14 – August 15
  • August 24 – August 26

You can only get these rates at the special MousePlanet reader's discount page (link). Why stay off property?

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Tom Sawyer Island – removal of existing roof at Fort Langhorn and replacement with new wood shake shingle.
  • Epcot Innoventions – Storm Struck kiosk package.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Great Movie Ride – repair and coating of maintenance bay roof.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – installation of hot water heater for special effects mens and womens room.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Loop 300 comfort station, Creekside Meadow comfort station, petting zoo pony shelter and Loop 2100 storage building – removal of existing roof and replacement with new Titian synthetic shingles.
  • Boardwalk Resort Spoodles Restaurant – interior improvements.
  • Boardwalk – Resort Kouzzina marquee package.
  • Old Key West Resort buildings 11, 12, 30, 31, 36-40, 63 and 64 – repair and repainting of exterior siding.

Quick takes …

…In the wake of ongoing problems with children suffering heat exhaustion while watching the show in the middle of Tomorrowland with no shade whatsoever, Stitch's SuperSonic Celebration has taken a powder, and ran its last show on Saturday. The show may have been the shortest-lived show ever at Walt Disney World, running less than two months.

…Special packages for Night of Joy are now on sale, offering admission to both nights of the Christian music festival (September 11 and 12), plus two one-day one-park passes valid for that weekend, for just $89.95 plus tax (when purchased by August 12) or $99.95 plus tax (August 13 or later). Note that this package is only available for groups of 10 or more, so don't call and ask for just a pair of these tickets. With two-night tickets for the festival only costing $84.95, they're a good deal for people only coming for those days that don't have an annual or seasonal pass. One-night tickets purchased in advance are $49.95 plus tax ($54.95 plus tax on event day, if available). Individual tickets can be purchased by calling 407-W-DISNEY (407-934-7639) and the special group tickets can be purchased by calling 877-NITE-JOY (877-648-3569). Tickets can also be purchased online.

…Bad news for those hoping to bypass waits at security using the "Clear Pass," as the service has gone out of business. See Lani Teshima's blog post from last Monday for more information.

…Orlando International Airport received $14.9 million from the Department of Homeland Security towards the completion of security enhancements including an in-line baggage system so that you will no longer have to bring your bags to the scanners. You should be able to hand your checked luggage to the check-in agents for scanning behind the scenes some time next year.

…The "Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade" has once again been nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Class Special.

…Tickets for the 2009 MEAC/SWAC Challenge presented by Disney (link) between the South Carolina State University and Grambling State University football teams on September 6 go on sale Wednesday, July 1 through Ticketmaster.

…Nelson Boice, who helped to amass the acreage necessary for the construction of Walt Disney World, passed away last Sunday at age 88.

…The 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon is now full. Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is 88 percent full (7,500 capacity). The Marathon itself is now at 65 percent of capacity and the Family Fun Run 5K is at 60 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.
Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

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 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 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

Walt Disney World free dining deal!

From now until July 26, 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

MousePlanet partner Gaylord Palms Resort has a great offer, 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), Small World Vacations (link).

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