Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for September 14 – September 20, 2009

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

News and Views

New Fantasyland coming 2012, 2013 | Star Tours 2.0 in 3-D | DCL heading to Alaska, Mexico, Mediterranean | Buzz returns | 2010 Moms Panel | Construction update | Quick Takes …

New Fantasyland to absorb Toontown Fair, debut in 2012, 2013

The rumors we reported back on July 20 are "absolutely true" said Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo on Saturday at the D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, as he unveiled the largest expansion in the history of Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom park. It's an Extreme Makeover: Theme Park Edition as Fantasyland is expected to get a complete overhaul in the next three to four years. The northeast quarter of the land, as well as most of Mickey's Toontown Fair, will be completely reimagined.

There will be separate, individually themed, interactive meet-and-greet areas for Cinderella, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), and Belle. Visitors will be able to dance with Cinderella, celebrate Aurora's birthday or join Belle in a story performance. A new Little Mermaid-themed attraction (copied from Disney's California Adventure) will occupy much of the former 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea lagoon's space.

A bird's-eye view of the vastly expanded Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World which will offer guests a new land of enchantment in a magical fairy tale forest just beyond the castle walls. The area behind the new castle wall includes, clockwise from far left, Belle's village, the Beast's castle, Gaston's tavern, Ariel's Adventure, Dumbo's circus, the Barnstormer, Pixie Hollow, Mad Tea Party, Pooh's Playful Spot, Aurora's cottage and Cinderella's chateau. Click the image for a larger view. Image © Disney.

Dumbo will disappear from its current location and reappear as twin spinner rides with a new, interactive three-ring circus tent in what is currently the back portion of Mickey's Toontown Fair. The front area of Toontown will become a new Pixie Hollow. The only part of Mickey's Toontown Fair that will remain untouched is the Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm, which may be in for a retheming.

Fans of Disney's animated classic, The Little Mermaid, will journey under the sea to meet Ariel and her friends on an exciting new musical adventure. This new attraction will take guests through beautifully rendered scenes featuring classic songs from the popular animated feature. The attraction will premiere at Disney's California Adventure in 2011 before opening at Walt Disney World in 2012. Click the image for a larger view. Image © Disney.

There will be new eateries, as well. You can sit down to a meal in the Beast's castle or grab a bite at Gaston's Tavern.

One of the Magic Kingdom's most beloved attractions, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, is completely re-imagined when the circus comes to town. Guests are invited to step into the big top and join the circus before their magical flight over Fantasyland. The attraction purportedly lets you wait for an attraction without standing in line. Click the image for a larger view. Image © Disney.

Most of the new Fantasyland is expected to open in 2012, with Pixie Hollow scheduled to open in 2013.

Star Tours 2.0 to incorporate 3D, debut in 2011

"I'm sorry to tell you that as of October 2010, Star Tours will be closing," said Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo at Disney's D23 Expo on Saturday, as the theater erupted in cheers and the Fighting 501st Legion of Stormtroopers (link) took the stage. Darth Vader appeared on the screen above Rasulo and informed him that the Emperor was "most displeased" with Rasulo's plan to close Star Tours. "You didn't let me finish," said Rasulo, as he explained that they were closing Star Tours so that they could do things with Star Tours that had never been done before. When Rasulo said that it would be ready by 2014, Vader insisted that it be done no later than 2011.

A concept image from the upcoming Star Tours II attraction shows a StarSpeeder in the middle of a podrace. Click the image for a larger view. Image © Disney.

After demanding to see some of the new Star Tours adventure, Vader stated that those in the audience would need 3-D glasses to watch the preview. You can hear audio of the full conversation here. Those in attendance got to see a preview of the new podracing-themed film for the attraction in 3-D. We don't know when in 2011 the new attraction will be ready, but it is coming to both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios. It is rumored that there will be multiple destinations available in the upgraded attraction, but that has not yet been confirmed.

Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo presents a 2-D preview of the new 3-D Star Tours II attraction.

MouseAdventure's Summer Warm Up

Quest #10 is the last of our in-park challenges, and takes you to the wilds of Disney's Animal Kingdom park (link). 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 BRAND NEW MouseAdventure: Vacation packet #1, 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).

Disney Cruise Line heading to Alaska, Mexican Riviera, Mediterranean, and Caribbean in 2011

With the Disney Dream going into service in early 2011, the Disney Cruise Line will be sailing three of the seven seas simultaneously during the summer of 2011, it was announced by Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz at the Disney D23 Expo last Friday.

The Dream will sail Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral for the entire year, while the Disney Magic will sail the Mediterranean during the summer and the Disney Wonder will sail out of Vancouver to Alaska during the summer and out of Los Angeles/San Pedro to the Mexican Riviera for the rest of the year after an January Panama Canal crossing.

The Wonder will reposition itself from Port Canaveral to Los Angeles with a 15-night trans-canal cruise January 6-21, then begin 7-night Mexican Riviera cruises to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas starting January 23. After a 10-night Mexican Riviera cruise that adds Manzanillo to the itinerary, the ship will reposition itself to Vancouver via a six-night repositioning cruise April 27-May 3 (stopping in San Francisco and Victoria, B.C.), then spend the summer sailing 18 7-night Alaska cruises with stops at Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. After a five-night repositioning cruise back to Los Angeles September 20-25, with stops in Victoria and Ensenada, Mexico, it will return to its 7-night Mexican Riviera itinerary for the remainder of 2011, wrapping up with 10-night and 11-night holiday cruises sailing December 18 and December 28.

To prepare for the Alaska sailings, its drydock this October the Wonder will get a new venue called the Outlook Cafe, which will feature floor-to-ceiling curved glass windows surrounding the 2,500-square-foot, 65-seat lounge. It will connect to the Cove Cafe below via a spiral staircase.

The Disney Cruise Line will begin sailing to Alaska in 2011. This will be the first time Disney Cruise Line will sail to Alaska and the first time a Disney cruise ship will call the West Coast home for an entire year. During 2011, the ship will depart Vancouver, B.C. for Alaska and sail seven-night Mexican Riviera cruises from the Port of Los Angeles. Photo © Disney (Diana Zalucky, photographer).

After a winter and spring sailing the Caribbean (alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries), the Disney Magic will sail a Transatlantic cruise May 14-28, 2011, featuring stops at Castaway Cay; Madeira, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Gibraltar, U.K. before arriving in Barcelona. It will spend the summer sailing alternating 11- and 10-night cruises from Barcelona, featuring stops in Malta, Tunis, Naples, Civitavecchia, La Spezia, Ajaccio and Villefranche. The Magic will then head back to Port Canaveral on another 14-night Transatlantic cruise September 10-24, with stops at Gibraltar, U.K.; Madeira, Portugal; St. Maarten; Tortola; and Castaway Cay. It will then return to sailng 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises, closing the year with an 11-night Southern Caribbean cruise sailing December 17 and a 10-night Eastern Caribbean cruise sailing December 28.

"We're excited to offer this incredible choice of itineraries for 2011, with cruise vacation options for every family—whether that's outdoor adventure in Alaska, the beauty and culture of Europe, folklore and pageantry of Mexico or tropical fun in the Caribbean," said Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz. "The unique advantage of Disney Cruise Line is that we offer a customized ship experience that brings families together, while still catering to the personalized vacation needs of every guest who sails with us."

Booking of 2011 itineraries on the Disney Wonder and the Disney Magic opens on Monday, September 28, two weeks from today.

Buzz Lightyear returns to Earth

Buzz Lightyear has returned to Earth. A 12-inch-tall action figure of the Disney-Pixar character, which went up to the International Space Station aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery on May 31, 2008, returned to earth on Friday evening, again aboard Discovery.

Discovery had to land in California due to weather conditions at Cape Canaveral, and so Buzz will have to take a cross-country trip before returning to Walt Disney World, where he will be celebrated in a tickertape parade (along with Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin) in early October.

Moms Panel application period how open

Applications for the Disney World Moms Panel are now being accepted. The application period opened last Thursday, and will remain open until this coming Sunday or until 20,000 applications are received, whichever comes first. 10 applicants will be selected to join the existing panelists, and will go to Walt Disney World for training in December before beign officially introduced in January 2010. If you're interested, go to the Moms Panel Web site (link) and get your application in as soon as you can. Good luck!

Construction update

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

  • Epcot – electrical and building work.
  • Epcot Port of Entry & Traders shops – modifications.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios main entrance turnstiles – electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster – electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Toy Story Midway Mania – carpentry and electrical work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom ticket booths – electrical work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom bag check – electrical work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom guest relations – electrical work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom turnstiles – electrical work.
  • Downtown Disney World of Disney and Cirque du Soleil – modifications.
  • Grand Floridian Resort Building 5 – saniglazing of restroom and corridor floors.
  • Coronado Springs Resort Pepper Market – electrical work.

Quick takes …

…More news from the D23 Expo: Muppet Whatnot Workshops (where you can build your own Muppet) will be coming to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. In other Muppet news, a new Muppet mobile Electric Mayhem Band is coming to both resorts, as well.

…The Tomorrowland Transit Authority reopened on Friday, with upgraded sound and lighting along the track. Construction walls block much of the view within Space Mountain.

…Disney Channel star Mitchel Musso (Hannah Montana, Phineas & Ferb) will sign copies of his new, self-titled debut album on Friday, September 18 from 1-2 p.m. at Disney's Hollywood Studios. There are restrictions on queueing, photos and signing (link). At 6:45 that evening, Musso will perform at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney (buy tickets).

…The 17th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will take place March 3-May 16, 2010.

…Night of Joy, the annual Christian music event at Walt Disney World, will be returning to the Magic Kingdom in 2010.

…The Atlanta Braves will be returning to Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex for their 14th season in 2010.

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

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A picture of Walt Disney can be seen in the Carousel of Progress on the daughter’s room (left wall) in the third scene.

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. 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).
  • Jan. 15-17. UCA National College Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • Feb. 5-7. National Dance Team Championship (link).
  • Feb. 12-14. UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • Feb. 19-22. TwirlMania 2010 (link).
  • Feb. 27. Contest of Champions Nationals: School & Youth Rec Cheer (link).
  • Feb. 27. Contest of Champions Nationals: All-Star Cheer & Dance (link).
  • Mar. 3 - May. 16. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
  • Mar. 5. Contest of Champions Nationals: Studio Dance (link).
  • Mar. 6-7. Contest of Champions Nationals: School Dance (link).
  • Mar. 7, 2010. Disney's Princess Half-Marathon (link).
  • Mar. 12-14. UCA National All Star Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • Apr. 23-25. USASF/IASF Dance and Cheerleading World Championships (link).

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Space Mountain – closed April 19 through November 21, 2009 for major refurbishment.


  • Living with the Land – closed July 31 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.


  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed November 30, 2008 through January 13, 2010 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – will close for annual refurbishment on January 14, 2010.


  • 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 14-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 through 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.