Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for November 9 – November 15, 2009

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

News and Views

Flu prevention | Christmas arrives | Children's Miracle Network Classic | ESPN complex | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Walt Disney World takes on flu prevention

Walt Disney World has listened to the fears of the public regarding the possibility of contracting the flu while on vacation at the resort and it has responded.

Over 200 hand sanitizers have been received and are being installed in high-traffic areas throughout the resort, including at theme park entrances, hotel lobbies and character meet-and-greet locations. The automated dispensers contain alcohol-based, waterless hand sanitizing gel. If you need more than that, you'll be able to buy your own hand sanitizer at most merchandise locations.

Drinking fountains, telephones and other frequently touched surfaces have been targeted for more frequent cleaning, and brochures now carry reminders of how to avoid spreading the flu.

While it's obviously impossible to prevent all situations where viruses and bacteria can be transmitted, it seems that Walt Disney World is going out of its way to ensure that they are doing as much as they can to ensure their guests are as well protected as possible.

Christmas arrives at the Walt Disney World Resort

If Halloween is over, it must be time for Christmas!

As the Jack O'Lanterns came down at the Magic Kingdom, the tinsel started going up. Christmas trees are appearing (including the Studios tree in the entrance plaza) and it's time to get into the spirit. The Castle Dreamlights and the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights both officially debut tomorrow night, and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party kicks off on that night, as well.

The amazingly huge gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian Resort begins construction tonight, and is scheduled to open to the public next Monday at 10 a.m. It will operate daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. through December 31. This is the house's 11th year. We expect to have photos in our park update in the near future.

Come out and play with MousePlanet!

Join us on November 15 in Epcot or at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party

If you're going to be at Walt Disney World the weekend after Veterans Day but won't be playing MouseAdventure, you'll still have a chance to attend a MousePlanet meet! There'll be two meets on Sunday, November 15, the day after MouseAdventure. You can meet Mark Goldhaber for some chocolate mousse at Boulangerie Patisserie at Epcot's France pavilion at 1:00 p.m. That evening, there'll be another meet at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Meet Mark Goldhaber at the Tomorrowland entrance to the Rose Garden at 9:15 p.m., about 15 minutes before the Holiday Wishes nighttime spectacular. If you're planning to attend, be sure to let us know so we can have enough MousePlanet buttons and other stuff for everyone!

Children's Miracle Network Classic to tee off this week

Several storylines will be written this week at the $4.7 million Children's Miracle Network Classic golf tournament at Walt Disney World.

Davis Love III will defend his title and take the top prize of $846,000 against a field that includes Justin Leonard, David Toms, Mark Calcavecchia, Lee Janzen, David Duval, and Heath Slocum. Love would be the first to successfully defend his title since Tim Simpson in 1989–1990, and the first second-time winner since Tiger Woods won in 1996 and 1999. Other repeat winners include Jack Nicklaus (1971–1973), Larry Nelson (1984, 1987) and John Huston (1992, 1998).

Other players are jockeying for position to avoid the cut and make the PGA Tour for next year, including Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark. Another big story is 29-year-old Erik Compton, who received his second transplanted heart about a year and a half ago. He made an impressive showing at an event in late October and was given a sponsor's exemption into the tournament.

The tourney is also the final stop on the Kodak Challenge (link), a 30-tournament string of holes where one golfer will win $1 million. Kevin Streelman leads Nathan Green, J.J. Henry, and Bo Van Pelt by two strokes apiece and Matt Bettencourt by three. Green and Henry are not scheduled to play at the event.

Thursday and Friday's rounds start on the Magnolia and Palm courses at 6:45 a.m., while the weekend rounds will be held on the Magnolia course only. You can follow along with the tournament from home on the PGA Tour Web site (link) or each day of the tourney from 1 to 4 p.m. on the Golf Channel.

If you'll be at Walt Disney World, purchase your ticketd before the event through Ticketmaster (link), or at the on-site ticket booths during the event. Weekly badges are $20, and daily tickets are $10. There's complimentary guest parking for the tournament at Epcot, and complimentary transportation between the parking lot and the tournament entrance. Free admission to the tourney is available to Disney Visa cardholders, Disney Vacation Club members and Annual Passholders (you'll need to show appropriate identification at Will Call).

ESPN moving into Wide World of Sports Complex

Disney's Wide World of Sports' days are numbered; 108 days to be exact. On February 25, 2010, the 220-acre complex will officially become the ESPN Wide World of Sports.

The change, which we first reported over a year ago, finally takes place just ahead of next year's ESPN The Weekend event. The complex will receive a number of upgrades along with the renaming, and will more closely tie events there to Disney's sports network.

Twenty new video screens (including two Jumbotrons) and a new complex-wide audio system will be used to show daily highlight reels and interviews with ESPN personalities. Those videos will be produced at the new 2,500-square-foot broadcast center with eight edit bays, plus a direct uplink to ESPN's Bristol, Connecticut headquarters. And if you're not at the complex and still want to know what's going on, a feed will now show events from the Wide World of Sports on a new, dedicated channel on the resort's television system.

The former All Star Cafe will become the ESPN Wide World of Sports Grill, themed similarly to the ESPN Grill at the Boardwalk Resort, with HDTV screens and a link-up to handle live radio remote broadcasts.

The new ESPN Innovation Lab has already opened and is turning out new products that show up on your TV screen at home.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Emporium – replacement of deteriorated section of AVAC tube.
  • Magic Kingdom Hall of Presidents – electrical work.
  • Epcot Spaceship Earth VIP Lounge – installation of fan coil units in electronics room.
  • Epcot Italy pavilion – rerouting of existing 4-inch hot water main.
  • Epcot East Gate facility – carpentry work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – parking lot billboard package.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios American Idol Experience – confetti lifts package.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Gorilla Building – replacement of existing gorilla mesh with new.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama – restroom stall modifications.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Lion King Theater – building and plumbing work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Dinosaur – electrical and fire alarm work.
  • Typhoon Lagoon – carpentry work.
  • Fantasia Fairways Mini-Golf – replacement of 9 hole marker signs.
  • Downtown Disney Cirque du Soleil – electrical work.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Building 4 (main building) – upgrade of elevators and mechanical rooms.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – repair of damage to shoreline erosion control system.
  • Polynesian Resort Great Ceremonial House first floor window wall – installation of new wall system and glass.
  • Contemporary Resort California Grill – fabrication and installation of insulated stainless steel drain pan for existing ice machine catch basin.
  • Beach Club Resort – addition of electrical panel for booster heaters.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort Martinique Village GeoTube – installation of EBT and sod.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort Old Port Royale – installation of new chiller and cooling tower.
  • Pop Century Resort Bowling Pin Pool – demolition, removal and installation of rail and sleeve for ADA compliance.
  • All Star Movies and Pop Century Disney Cruise Line desks – electrical work.

Quick takes …

…For those worrying about the weather for this coming Saturday's MouseAdventure game, the National Weather Service says that game day will be "mostly sunny, with a high near 81." Of course, all good World Explorers should know to be prepared for anything.

…Monorail Teal began running on the track last Wednesday. The train was built from the undamaged remnants of Monorails Pink and Purple, which were involved in the fatal accident of July 5.

…Wondering what was going to happen in the former Starabilias location that closed in August at Downtown Disney West Side? Little Miss Matched opens today.

…Shanghai Ho! The Walt Disney Company announced Tuesday that Project Application Report for a Disney theme park in the Pudong district in Shanghai had been approved by the central government of China. The next step is to put together a final agreement to build and operate the park and to begin preliminary development work.

…Last Tuesday, The Walt Disney Company announced a $7 million investment in projects to protect forests in the Amazon, the Congo, the Lower Mississippi River valley and Northern California. The investment was made in partnership with Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and The Conservation Fund.

…On Saturday, nearly 300 Disney VoluntEARS helped to clear trash from the Brevard County coastline, working in conjunction with the Ocean Conservancy, Keep Brevard Beautiful, United States Coast Guard and the Canaveral Port Authority as part of the International Coastal Cleanup, the world's largest volunteer effort to improve the health of the ocean and waterways.

…To assist MousePlanet readers who want to participate in The Year to Volunteer, we're looking for readers to act as MousePlanet hosts at qualifying volunteer opportunities across the country. While details of specific opportunities won't be available until after the promotion begins in January, several of our volunteers hosts said they want to start coordinating their local events. To help facilitate these activities, we've created a new MousePlanet Volunteers section of our MousePad discussion board devoted entirely to the Year to Volunteer events.

If you would like to coordinate and host a group volunteer event in your area, please visit our MousePad discussion board for more information on how to list your event (link). Hosts will be responsible for selecting a volunteer opportunity from the HandsOn Network site (which means you get to choose a program or organization that's important to you!), and coordinating with local MousePlanet readers who want to volunteer for your activity. To give readers the most time to use their tickets, we encourage hosts to schedule their activities early in the year.

Hosts from Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, Southern Utah, Southern Nevada and Southern Arizona have already started discussions for their area, and are looking for local readers to join their activities. If you live in one of these areas and want more information about local events, please visit MousePad and join the discussion (link).

…The 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon is now at 92 percent of capacity. The Half Marathon, Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge Family Fun Run 5K and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest 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.
  • Nov. 10, 12, 13, 15, 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 Family 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).
  • Jun. 12. Expedition Everest Challenge (link).
  • Oct. 1-2. Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon (link).

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Space Mountain – closed April 19 through November 21, 2009 for major refurbishment.
  • Donald's Boat – closed November 19, 2009 for refurbishment.
  • The Magic Carpets of Aladdin – closed December 6–19, 2009 for refurbishment.
  • Crystal Palace Restaurant – closed for refurbishment January 3 to February 15, 2010.
  • Splash Mountain – closed for refurbishment January 3 to February 27, 2010.


  • 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 1, 2009 through January 9, 2010 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – closed January 10, 2010 through March 20, 2010 for annual refurbishment.


  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays. There will be no performance 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:

  • 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:

  • 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.

Walt Disney World offers new "Free Nights" discount, with some twists

Walt Disney World has released a new version of the "Buy-4-Get-3-Free" deal offered earlier this year, for most dates from November 1, 2009 through March 27, 2010. There are three twists to this version, though.

The first twist is that the Buy-4-Get-3 deal is only for stays at moderate resorts and up. If you're staying at a value resort, the deal becomes a Buy-5-Get-2-Free. This cuts the net difference in price between values and moderates by about 40 percent, with comparative sample 7-night vacations in November for a family of four differing by $152. This will help to convince many families "on the bubble" to opt for moderate resorts, thus clearing more availability for those who can only afford value resorts.

The second twist is that you must buy park passes for the length of your stay. No more annual passholders doing the "buy a one-day pass and get the free room nights" trick. If you're staying at a moderate and up, you'll need a four-day pass and at a value you have to buy a five-day pass. This results in the net park pass savings of $9 per person at moderate and higher resorts and $6 per person at values. Of course, if you were hoping to do the one-day purchase if you hold annual passes, it's an extra $146 per person at moderates and up and $149 per person at values.

The third and final twist is that you will not get free days on your dining plan with this deal. You can buy the dining plan with the discount, but you'll have to pay for all seven days. That's $120-$141 per adult and $30-$39 per child (moderate and up) or $80-$94 per adult and $20-$26 per child (value) that you're paying that you didn't have to pay in this spring's offer.

Despite that, it's still a nice discount on the room and park passes for those without annual passes. If you were looking for a reason to add a trip in the next few months, now is the time! The offer is good November 1-20, 2009; December 10-24, 2009; and January 1-March 27, 2010.

These rates must be booked by December 20. The number of rooms available is limited. Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World web site or by using codes GQA (value resorts) or UJX (moderate resorts and above) if booking via the Walt Disney World Reservations phone line (407-939-1318) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).

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 – $69 per night (10/4-11/24), $54 per night (11/29-12/17) and $89 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Moderate resorts – $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 (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 – $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 code 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 through 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 December 20. 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 offers "Kids Sail Free" deal

Now is a great time for families to book a Disney cruise, as the Disney Cruise Line has announced a "Kids Sail Free" promotion for most 3- and 4-night Bahamian sailings from January 7 through through April 15, 2010 and 10- and 11-night Mediterranean sailings from April 24 through May 26, 2010.

Children age 17 and under can sail free when traveling with two full-fare guests in the same stateroom, though government taxes and fees must still be paid for the kids. The offer applies to stateroom categories 4 through 12 and the number of stateroom categories are limited. Other special offers, discounts or onboard credits to not apply, though additional terms and conditions may apply.

Reservations may be booked through the Disney Cruise Line Web site (link), via the Disney Cruise Line Reservations phone line (800-951-3532) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link). You must use booking code KFO to receive this deal.

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