Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for August 31 – September 7, 2009

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

News and Views

Dream keel laid | Trusted Traveler program | Convention honors | MEAC/SWAC Challenge | Kidani Village Phase 2 | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Disney Dream takes another step toward completion

Last Tuesday, the Disney Cruise Line took another major step toward the arrival of its next generation of cruise ships with the keel laying of the Disney Dream, the first of its two new ships, scheduled to begin sailing in early 2011. The keel laying ceremony at the Meyer-Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany was presided over by Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz. The ceremony marks the occasion when the first section of the ship is lowered into the building dock.

Part of the ceremony includes a coin being placed under the keel for good luck. The placing of the coin was done by veteran Disney Captain Tom Forberg, assisted by Donald Duck, who did some pixie-dusting of the coin. Forberg was recently named master of the Dream. He also launched the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, the line's first two ships. The fourth ship, the Disney Fantasy, will begin sailing in 2012. Each of the two new ships will feature 1,250 staterooms and weigh 128,000 tons.

Construction continues on the Dream, with complete, pre-fabricated hull sections being joined together in block units and then brought together to form the ship. It will take 80 blocks to build the ship, with the first one laid weighing approximately 380 tons.

Video highlights of the keel laying ceremony.

"Since our inception, families have come to know and love Disney Cruise Line, and they are looking for additional ways to enjoy all that we have to offer," Holz said during the ceremony. "Our fleet expansion will allow us to satisfy demand on both the East and West coasts of the United States while also giving us the flexibility to explore additional global destinations for our Guests."

Both the Dream and the Fantasy will make their home port at Port Canaveral, Florida, currently the home port of the Wonder and the Magic. When the Dream arrives in 2011, the Wonder will move its home to the Port of Los Angeles. There is no word yet on whether the Magic will move elsewhere when the Fantasy arrives.

More information on the design of the ships, as well as itineraries for 2011, will be announced at the D23 Expo in September.

Trusted Traveler program expands to Orlando

Orlando International Airport has been named as one of 13 locations to be added to the initial 7 locations in an expanded pilot test for the Department of Homeland Security's Global Entry, Trusted Traveler Program. Using a biometric scanning machine, the program expedites international arrivals for U.S. citizens. Enrollment in the program costs $100 for five years of participation. The program reportedly speeds up arrival time by as much as 75 percent.

MouseAdventure's Summer Warm Up

Congratulations to MousePlanet reader SavageGirl for being the first to post the correct answer to our Week 8 quest. If you'd like to check your own answers, download the Quest 8 answer key (link).

Quest #9 is a little something we like to call... the Evil Paragraph (link). (Since the Quest 8 answer was in several parts, the name of the hotel where Pluto stayed during his trip is the password you'll need to open Quest #9) Remember, you can solve this quest at home using information found online at MousePlanet.com. Once you think you've solved the puzzle, visit our MousePad discussion boards and post your answer (link). The first person to post the correct answer to our MousePad discussion boards will win their very own copy of the MouseAdventure: Personal Edition packet, filled with quests from the Disneyland Resort. Good luck!


The Inaugural MouseAdventure event at Walt Disney World will take place on Saturday, November 14, 2009!

The day will begin with a private breakfast at the Odyssey Center prior to park opening, followed by a six-hour fun-filled race around Epcot park for 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).

Meetings & Conventions honors Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World scored big in the 2009 Gold Key and Gold Tee Awards from Meetings & Conventions magazine. Five Disney convention resorts received Gold Key awards, and the resort as a whole won the Gold Tee award. The Gold Key, which ranks the best meeting properties in North America, went to the Boardwalk, Contemporary, Grand Floridian and Yacht & Beach Club Resorts. This is the twenty-second year that at least one Disney resort has been so honored. The Gold Tee is awarded on several criteria, including golf course conditions and difficulty, meeting facilities and accommodations. Disney received the Gold Tee for the 15th time.

MEAC/SWAC Challenge coming this weekend

The second MEAC/SWAC Challenge game to be sponsored by Walt Disney World will take place at the Citrus Bowl at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 6. The game, the fifth overall in the series, pits defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) title holder South Carolina State against last years Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) champ Grambling State University. The two conferences of Historically Black College and University teams sport a total of 25 schools. The MEAC leads the SWAC 3-1 in the series.

Kidani Village Phase 2 opens tomorrow

Phase 2 of the Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village opens tomorrow, including the new Pembe Savanna, which will feature okapis, red river hogs, impala, waterbuck, blue cranes and spur-winged geese. The six-acre savanna and the remaining 160 villas complete the Disney Vacation Club resort, which will feature 449 two-bedroom equivalent villas.

Construction update

Catch-up time! Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last two months:

  • Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland Skyway Terminal – demolition of structure and renovation of exterior and restrooms.
  • Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland Transit Authority – electrical work.
  • Magic Kingdom Galaxy Palace Theater demolition – replacement of exterior door, covered breezeway, men's & women's restoom modifications.
  • Magic Kingdom Liberty Square – general carpentry work.
  • Magic Kingdom Liberty Tree Tavern – renovation of men's and women's restrooms.
  • Magic Kingdom Tom Sawyer Island Fort Sam Clemens – renovation of men's and women's restrooms.
  • Magic Kingdom Main Street Bakery – inside building and electrical work.
  • Magic Kingdom Emporium – electrical upgrades.
  • Epcot bus shelter – carpentry and electrical work.
  • Epcot kennel, replace a chilled water auxiliary heating unit.
  • Epcot Electric Umbrella – marquee package.
  • Epcot Coral Reef Restaurant, Rose & Crown Restaurant, Liberty Inn – inspection and videotaping of sanitary lines.
  • Epcot The Seas pavilion – educational tank posters package.
  • Epcot Innoventions – Raytheon graphics package.
  • Epcot Land pavilion – carpentry work.
  • Epcot Italy pavilion – replacement of six chilled water auxiliary heating units.
  • Epcot Japan pavilion – minor carpentry and electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – structural work for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Light.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Toy Story Midway Mania – installation of two fans.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Great Movie Ride – installation of ladder and access platform (EER rooms in front of building beneath the neon signs, West and East side of main entrance).
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Muppet Theater – installation of monitoring system, mechanical & electrical work (all 3 floors and EER rooms).
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Fantasmic – installation of electrical control boxes in control room.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Dinoland U.S.A. meet and greet area – provide area development modifications including landscape, hardscape, electrical and weather structure.
  • Typhoon Lagoon life support building – replace two rooftop package auxiliary heating units.
  • Downtown Disney Cirque du Soleil La Nouba building – electrical work.
  • Downtown Disney Planet Hollywood – removal of ID signage.
  • Downtown Disney stroller rental – electrical work.
  • Downtown Disney West Side Candy Cauldron – replacement of 12.5 ton air conditioning unit.
  • Downtown Disney West Side DisneyQuest – general roof leak repairs.
  • Disney's Wide World of Sports – Braille map structure package.
  • Bay Lake Tower Resort – construction of tennis court cabana.
  • Bay Lake Tower – installation of additional convenience outlets at pool area.
  • Contemporary Resort – make repairs to existing sanitary lines at columns 3 and 4.
  • Grand Floridian Resort Franck's Studio – application of coatings to building exterior.
  • Grand Floridian Resort – removal and replacement of Baxter Oven.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort – construction of new spa at the loop pool.
  • Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – installation of GFI breakers at specified locations.
  • Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – replace boiler controls.
  • Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village – installation of water heaters.
  • Coronado Springs Resort – electrical work, carpentry work and plumbing.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort – demolition of existing boards at deck outside water wheel and replacement with pressure-treated deck boards.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort buildings 1-7 – demolition of existing fire suppression pipes and replacement with new.
  • Old Key West Resort playgrounds near building 55 and near Turtle Shack – replace playground equipment with new.
  • Old Key West Resort – replacement of new air conditioning equipment for building 36.
  • Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas pool – carpentry, electrical and plumbing work.
  • Pop Century Resort Everything Pop – installation of shopping and dining equipment.
  • All Star Movies Resort buildings #1 and #10 – replacement of hot water boilers.

Special thanks to Brian Henry for unlocking the secret of the recent change to the search function on the Orange County Comptroller's Web site!

Quick takes …

…It appears that the test of the Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party at the Tomorrowland Terrace has been a big success. The party will continue, though not every night. Call the Disney Dining Line, 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) to see if it will be offered during your vacation.

…Last week, we reminded you that the appearances of Chef Remy at Les Chefs de France was scheduled to end September 4. It now appears that the test of this has also been a success, as recent Disney audition notices include casting for this mini-show at the restaurant.

…The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will now begin November 10, two and a half weeks before their originally-scheduled November 27 date. This new date is more in accordance with their debut date last year, and matches the debut date for this year's Castle Dreamlights.

…La Cava del Tequila opened last week at Epcot's Mexico pavilion. Featuring more than 70 types of authentic tequila, ranging from $8 to $50 for a drink, the lounge is connected to the San Angel Inn Restaurante inside the building's courtyard. The drink menu also features margaritas. The tapas-style food menu includes mahi mahi tostadas with diced mango and avocado, blue crab toastadas with chipotle mayo and Valentina sauce. The 30-seat lounge is open from noon until the park's closing time.

…The 2010 Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is now full. The Walt Disney World Marathon itself is now at 77 percent of capacity, the Family Fun Run 5K is at 90 percent and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest is at 60 percent. The Half Marathon is already sold out. Time is running out! Register now (link)!

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Jonathan Heigl's Trivia Tidbit of the Week

3 million chocolate Mickey ice cream bars are sold every year.

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

  • 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).
  • 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. 10 - Jan 3, 2010. Castle Dreamlights.
  • Nov. 10 - Jan. 3, 2010. Osborne Familiy Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
  • Nov. 12-15. Children's Miracle Network Classic (link).
  • Nov. 13-15. Festival of the Masters (link).
  • Nov. 14. MouseAdventure! (link).
  • Nov. 17 - Dec. 24. Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney.
  • Nov. 26, 27, 29. Old Spice Classic (link).
  • Nov. 27 - Dec. 30. Holidays Around the World at Epcot.
  • Nov. 27 - Jan. 3, 2010. Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade.
  • 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


  • Living with the Land – closed through October 3 for refurbishment.
  • The Bijutsu-kan Gallery at the Japan pavilion is currently closed for installation of a new exhibit.

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 on September 1.

Water Parks

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.


  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays. There will be no performances September 22-28 or November 17, 2009.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Walt Disney World free dining deal!

From now until September 26, if you book a three- to fourteen-night, non-discounted Magic Your Way package, you'll get Disney's dining plan for free.

The offer is good for stays on most nights September 27 – December 17, 2009, except November 25-28, the Wednesday through Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.. This time, the free dining comes with a twist: while the package stays the same if you book at a moderate, deluxe or villas resort, free dining packages at value resorts will be the quick service dining plan instead of the basic dining plan. You should be able to pay to upgrade your plan, but the "free" value of the deal at the values will be $29.99 per day for adults, $8.99 for children instead of $39.99 per day for adults, $10.99 for children. For a family of four with both children under age 10, that's a difference of $24 per day. For a family of four with both kids age 10 and up, it's a difference of $40 per day. Please be aware of that before you choose your resort!

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 September 26!

Gaylord Palms debuts new exclusive rate specials

MousePlanet sponsor Gaylord Palms Resort has announced a new set of nights for a special promotional rate of $119 per night (Reserve now!). Why stay off property? Because you can get luxury accommodations for the price of a Disney moderate, just a mile from Disney property. Many other nights are available for $129 per night (see below). The following dates are now available at $119 per night:

  • July 23 – July 28
  • August 1 – August 10
  • August 13 – August 16
  • August 18 – August 27
  • August 30 – September 2
  • September 6 – September 16
  • September 18 – September 20
  • September 25 – September 27
  • November 22 – December 1
  • December 11 – December 25

There are 32 more nights that you can stay at the Gaylord Palms Resort for just $129 pr night! Combined, these rates are available for approximately 2 nights out of every 3 for the rest of the year! Check out the special MousePlanet reader discount rate (Reserve now!) today! The special $129 per night rates are available on the following nights:

  • October 2 - October 5
  • October 13 - October 18
  • October 23 - October 24
  • October 29 - October 31
  • November 3 - November 7
  • November 12 - November 15
  • December 2 - December 5
  • December 9 - December 10
  • December 26 - December 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.

Passholder discounts through end of 2009

Passholder rates for August 9 – December 24, 2009 have been released. Rates are available for all dates except for November 25– 28, the Tuesday through Saturday of Thanksgiving week. Under this promotion, the starting rates at these resorts are:

  • Value resorts – $64 per night (8/9-8/17, 8/28-9/22, 10/2-10/2), $69 per night (10/4-11/24), $54 per night (11/29-12/17) and $89 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Moderate resorts – $89 per night (8/9-8/18, 8/22-9/23, 9/27-10/3), $99 per night (10/4-11/24), $89 per night (11/29-12/17) and $124 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Select deluxe resorts (Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk) – $234 per night (8/28-10/3)
  • Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge) – $169 per night (10/4-11/24), $139 per night (11/29-12/17) and $229 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, and Old Key West Resort – $159 per night (8/9-10/3), $189 per night (10/4-11/24), $169 per night (11/29-12/17) and $249 per night (12/18-12/24).

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. These rates may be available through your date of arrival. Reservations may be booked through the Passholder web site or by using codes EQA (8/9-10/3) or NBM (10/4-12/24) 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).

Room-only discounts for the general public through end of 2009

Discount room-only rates are now available to the general public for dates from October 4 – December 24. These rates are blocked out from November 25– 28, the Tuesday through Saturday of Thankgiving week. Under this promotion, the starting rates are:

  • Value resorts – $74 per night (10/4-11/24), $84 per night (11/29-12/17) and $94 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Moderate resorts – $109 per night (10/4-11/24), $96 per night (11/29-12/17) and $134 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge) – $179 per night (10/4-11/24), $149 per night (11/29-12/17) and $239 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, and Old Key West Resort – $199 per night (10/4-11/24), $179 per night (11/29-12/17) and $259 per night (12/18-12/24).

These rates must be booked by September 26. 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 Walt Disney World web site or by using code FSC if booking via the Walt Disney World Reservations phone line (407-939-6244) 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.