Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for September 28 – October 4, 2009

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

News and Views

Epcot Food & Wine Festival | Dogs to cluck | Wireless monitor stopped buses | Transportation shakeup | New booking discount rumored | Construction update | Quick Takes …

14th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival opens

The 14th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival opened with a Mexico Tequila Tasting last Friday at the new Cava del Tequila at the Mexico pavilion. The 27 "International Marketplaces" around World Showcase Lagoon are now serving appetizer-sized portions of more than 76 kinds of international foods (priced at $2 to $7), with recommended wine pairings for each.

It's expected that by the time the 45-day festival ends on November 8, guests will go through 338,000 wine glasses, 750,000 beer cups, 33,000 bottles of wine and champagne, 3,000 gallons of soup, 100,000 miniature desserts, 1.2 million hors d'oeuvre plates, 600,000 forks and 2.1 million napkins. It'll take more than 160 of America's most celebrated chefs and Walt Disney World chefs to pull it all off.

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy opened the Eat to the Beat concert series Friday night with three well-received sets at the America Gardens Theatre. Since we last reported the schedule, American Idol season 5 winner Taylor Hicks has replaced Night Ranger on the concert schedule for November 1-2, but the other 16 acts remain unchanged. The concert series concludes with Los Lobos November 6-8.

Once again, the former Wonders of Life pavilion in Future World is serving as the Festival Welcome Center, home of the Festival Marketplace and most of the seminars.

You can plan your visit to the Festival before you go by downloading the Festival Guide (link) and Festival Map (link).

Welcome to the 14th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival! Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

This year's entry display is somewhat lower-key than in past years. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

This series of fanciful "desserts" welcomes you to the Festival. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

Of course, on your way out, you'll need a napkin to clean up and thank you for coming. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

As you head from Future World to World Showcase, it's time to celebrate with champagne. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

Dogs that say "cluck"

Independent Orlando restaurant critic Scott Joseph (formerly of the Orlando Sentinel) has reported (link) that Walt Disney World has switched over from all-beef hot dogs to frankfurters made from a mixture of beef and chicken.

This change likely serves two purposes. First, obviously, is a cost-savings measure. Beef-and-chicken dogs are less expensive than all-beef dogs. The other is to support Disney's stated aim to servce more healthful fare. Dogs with the two-meat mixture will have less fat and carry fewer calories.

If you have a chance to try one of these new hot dogs, let us know what you think of them!

Cast member Cameron invites you to try one of the wonderful desserts available at the Festival. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream at the Krakow, Poland marketplace. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

Pork Pot Stickers at the Shanghai, China marketplace. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

Grilled Lamb Chop with Red Wine Sauce and Murray River Sea Salt at the Melbourne, Australia marketplace. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

MouseAdventure's Summer Warm Up

Congratulations to MousePlanet reader Caroline, who was the first to post the correct answer to Quest #11! If you'd like to check your answers, download the Quest 11 answer key (link).

Quest #12 is our final online quest, and is twist on the Fantasyland Math quest that appeared in many of the early MouseAdventure events (link). You'll need the answer from Quest 11 (in MMDDYYYY format) to unlock Quest 12. 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 BRAND NEW MouseAdventure: Vacation packet #1, filled with quests from the Disneyland Resort. Good luck!

*If you have previously won a prize during the Summer Warm Up, you are not eligible to win again. We recommend that you not post an answer until someone else has correctly solved the quest.

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).

Bus shutdown caused by wireless tire-pressure monitor

It appears that the mystery box that caused the shutdown of Walt Disney World's bus system on September 17 was a tire-pressure monitor that had been installed 11 years earlier. Disney spokeswoman Andrew Finger told the Orlando Sentinel (link) that the device was a prototype that had been installed on a single bus in 1998 to monitor tire pressure on the bus using wireless technology. A maintenance worker unfamiliar with the device discovered it and reported it. The Orange County Sheriff's Office was notified and the bomb squad was called.

It is unclear whether the device was still in use or if it was inactive. After 11 years, it would be expected that either the device would be deemed worthwhile and rolled out to all buses or determined to be unproductive and removed from the one installation. The fact that it was unique among the 300 buses in the system was what caused its unexpected discovery to trigger the precautionary measures.

The Taste of Puglia exhibit invites you to learn about olive oil. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

Cooking demonstrations using olive oil are given six times a day at the Puglia, Italy exhibit. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

The Boston Beer Company, maker of Samuel Adams beer, invites you to learn about the history and science of beer-making. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

There are beer seminars six times a day at the History of Beer in America exhibit. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

Walt Disney World shakes up transportation leadership

After a rough summer for Walt Disney World's transportation department, the resort has changed the department's leadership, removing Kevin Lansberry from the top spot. Lansberry had previously kept the transportation responsibilities when he traded his responsibilities as Vice President for Downtown Disney for the same job at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Jim Vendur, a vice president previously in charge of transportation maintenance, will now have responsibility for operations as well. Since Vendur also oversees utilities and telecommunications, a new, as-yet-unfilled vice president slot below him will oversee all transportation. Each form of transportation will be further separated under different managers.

The summer has highlighted some problems with Disney's transportation policies and procedures. On July 5, a monorail crash killed 21-year-old driver Austin Wuennenberg when a monorail track change went horribly wrong. While the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have been investigating the causes of the crash, Disney has already voluntarily made a number of changes to the way that the monorail is operated, undoing some operational modifications made in recent years.

Two weeks later, two buses collided leaving the Magic Kingdom parking lot, injuring 12 passengers and causing widespread transportation delays.

A week and a half ago, when a maintenance cast member discovered a unique device installed on one bus 11 years ago, it triggered a hasty shutdown of the entire bus system so that all 300 buses could be inspected. It was only a few days later that the device was identified.

The Bangkok, Thailand marketplace features Chicken and Coconut Soup with Mushrooms, Lemongrass & Ginger; Green Papaya Salad with Shrimp and Singha Beer. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

The Melbourne, Australia marketplace features Seared Barramundi with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Lemon Oil; Grilled Lamb Chop with Red Wine Sauce and Murray River Sea Salt; Lamington Rosemount Traminer Riesling; Rosemount Pinot Noir; Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet; and Penfolds Bin 2. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

The Munich, Germany marketplace features Späetzle Gratin with Ham and Cheese; Nuernberger Sausage on a Pretzel Roll; Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce; S.A. Prüm Wines: Essence Riesling; Blue Slate Riesling; Graacher Himmelreich Riesling; Spätlese; Schloss Reinhartshausen Old Vines Riesling; Beck’s Pilsner; and Beck’s Oktoberfest. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

The Vienna, Austria marketplace features Paprika Beef Stew with Bacon Dumpling; Mushroom Soup with Chive Dumplings; Sacher Torte; Leth Grüner Veltliner; Leth Riesling; and Iby Zweigelt. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

New booking discount rumored

While the booking window for the extended free dining promotion ended Saturday, we're hearing some rumors of a new booking promotion that may be announced as early as today. In the new promotion, those booking in moderate resorts and above will be able to get three nights' free lodging when they buy four nights, while those in value resorts would get two nights when they buy five. A twist on this deal is that the "free" does not include packages, so the free extra days will not include dining or park passes. In fact, you'd be required to buy the additional days on park passes and dining for the rest of your stay.

If this deal does in fact take place, it would basically result in a nearly 43 percent reduction in hotel costs only for those in moderates and up, over 28 percent off of hotel costs for values. However, since your park passes and dining will have to be for the length of your stay, Disney has eliminated the "buy a one-day ticket and reap the benefits" access that many (including Annual Passholders) have done to gain eligibility for the free packages without having to duplicate admission that they already held.

Since today is the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur, it is quite possible that the discount will not be launched until at least tomorrow to allow equal access once the deal is available.

We'll have to wait until the promotion is actually announced before we can analyze it.

Construction update

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

  • Epcot Innoventions – IBM Smart Planet graphics package.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Dinoland, U.S.A. – installation of signage on meet and greet structure.
  • Disney's Wide World of Sports – Jostens Center marquee package and marquee electrical package.
  • Disney's Wide World of Sports All Star Cafe – installation of fryer, relocation of two existing dual tech nozzles and addition of one to new fryer.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – interior modifications to suites 4001, 4311 and 4411 in main building.
  • Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village – bath tub modifications to rooms 7616, 7717, 7718 and 7917.
  • Old Key West Resort – installation of electrical at marina.
  • Center for Living Well – addition of circuits to electrical grid for generator support for pharmacy and sign illumination.

Scotty Morris (right) and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy kick off the Eat to the Beat concert series. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

Quick takes …

…Friday is the deadline to nominate high school students for Disney's Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey. If you know a high school student who could use some encouragement in their life or a "stimulating push" toward their goals, go to the Steve Harvey Web site (link) and nominate them! The Disney's Dreamers Academy Class of 2010 will be announced in November 2009.

…Adventures by Disney has cut back their schedule by nearly 40 percent compared to last year. Disney claims that they retain flexibility to add more dates should there prove to be sufficient demand.

…The 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon is now at 81 percent of capacity, the and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest is at 70 percent. The Half Marathon, Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge and Family Fun Run 5K are already sold out. Your only shot at getting into the Half Marathon or Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge would be to contact one of Disney's group or charity registration aggregators (link). Time is running out! Register now (link)!

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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.
  • 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 through November 21, 2009 for major refurbishment.


  • 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.


  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed November 30, 2008 through January 13, 2010 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – closes 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

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:

  • September 25–27
  • November 22 – December 1
  • December 11–25

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 – 5
  • October 13–18
  • October 23–24
  • October 29–31
  • November 3–7
  • November 12–15
  • December 2–5
  • December 9–10
  • December 26–27

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 through 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 October 31. 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.