Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for January 11, 2010 – January 17, 2010

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

News and Views

DCL youth activities | Armed Forces Salute | Four Day Dream Pass | Wintry marathon | "The Golden Mickeys" | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Disney Cruise Line eliminates youth activity age barriers

Those cruising on Disney Cruise Line and tired of hearing, "Why can't I do that activity with my brother/sister/friend?" or "Why am I too old/too young to do that activity?" are in luck. The cruise line is opening up all pre-teen activities across age boundaries for all children ages 3 to 12 aboard the Disney Wonder and Disney Magic.

"The changes within Disney Cruise Line youth activities will allow children freedom to create a customized experience onboard our ships," said Disney Cruise Line Vice President of Entertainment Jim Urry. "Children can select their own adventures and immersive experiences for a truly personalized, memorable cruise vacation."

More than 100 activities will be available for all children to select in both the Oceaneers Club or Oceaneers Lab based on interests, though activity recommendations will still be made based on age and maturity level. This will allow families and friends to participate in activities together, and to allow children to select the activities that best meet their interests. Some experiences are character-based, such as Cinderella's Royal Ball, So You Want to be a Pirate and Toy Story Boot Camp. The Ratatouille Cooking School, Animal Tracking Series and Flubber are among the hands-on activities.

Walt Disney World announces 2010 Armed Forces Salute

Walt Disney World has announced its annual Armed Forces Salute for active and retired U.S. military personnel. From January 3 through July 31, members of the military or their spouses can can purchase $99 4-Day Military Promotional base tickets for themselves and up to five additional friends or family members. Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More options are an additional $26 plus tax apiece, per ticket.

Tickets are non-transferable and must be used by September 30. Military members and/or their spouse may not buy more than six tickets, and all tickets must be purchased at the same time. Tickets are blocked out from March 27 through April 9 for all theme parks and other gated attractions; and July 3 and 4, 2010 for the Magic Kingdom.

A 40 percent discount is also available to the military on rooms at select Disney resorts for stays most nights January 3 through September 30, except for March 28 through April 10 and July 1 to 5. The number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. Valid U.S. military ID is required upon check-in.

For information or to make room reservations, military personnel can call 407-939-7830 or participating U.S. military base ticket offices. Information is also available at the Walt Disney World Web site (link).

Four Day Dream Pass provides great deal for Florida Residents

As noted by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix in her blog last Tuesday (link), Walt Disney World has introduced a Florida Resident Four Day Dream Pass. The $99 ticket offers four one-day admissions to any of the Walt Disney World theme parks any day through May 25, 2010. The special ticket costs just $20 more than a one-day, one-park ticket, and $126 less than a standard four-day base ticket.

Tickets for children ages 3-9 are $84 plus tax. Park Hopping and Water Park Fun & More options cost just $26 plus tax per ticket.

The ticket is blocked out March 27 through April 9, the two weeks surrounding Easter. The ticket must be purchased by May 21. You'll need to show proof of Florida residency to purchase the ticket (or to pick it up if you buy online).

You can get more information and purchase your ticket at the Walt Disney World Web site (link).

Wintry weather doesn't faze endurance runners

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor gloom of early morning hours stopped the nearly 55,000 runners who participated in the Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon over the weekend. The unfavorable weather conditions were unexpected, but 16,883 of the estimated 24,000 marathoners and 17,102 of the 30,000 half-marathoners still managed to complete the race. Of those who registered for Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge (to complete both the full and half-marathons), 5,947 of the 7,500 registered  finished both races.

Brazilian Adriano Bastos once again won the marathon, his sixth straight and seventh in eight years. Bastos finished in 2:22:08, beating his countryman Fredison Costa by 33 seconds. Lisa Mizutani of Japan repeated her victory from last year, as well, beating Christa Benton of St. Petersburg, Florida by 5:23. Mizutani's time was 2:51:20.

In the half-marathon, the Hansons-Brooks distance running team from Rochester Hills, Michigan continued its dominance. Chad Johnson won his second Disney Half in three years in 1:07:02, edging teammate Sage Canady by 18 seconds. The women's half was won by team member Emily Mortenson in 1:20:58, beating Elizabeth Foster of Connecticut by 54 seconds. Last year's men's half was won by Hansons-Brooks team member David Jankowski.

MousePlanet's Stephanie Wien finished the half marathon in 2:19:18, for an overall ranking of 5,503. Congratulations, Steph!

Registration for the 2011 marathon weekend will go live at noon today (link).

"The Golden Mickeys" takes its last bow at sea

Last week's voyage of the Disney Magic marked the final performance of The Golden Mickeys stage show. Starting this week, the concert-style Once Upon A Song will run through the voyage of March 13. The show will feature both classic and modern Disney favorites. Villains Tonight is scheduled to run starting on the March 27 sailing, but may begin a week early based on the end date of this new show. Creation of this interim show both allows time to swap the stage sets in and out between The Golden Mickeys and Villains Tonight and lets Disney remove a show that features what may now be an uncomfortable scene where a cast member has a "discussion" via a TV monitor with the late Roy E. Disney.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Peter Pan's Flight – complete rehabilitation of exterior facades and roof.
  • Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain – replace Mill House shake roof.
  • Magic Kingdom Liberty Tree Tavern – replacewood shake roof.
  • Epcot Test Track – pressure washing, prep and painting of the galvanized steel rail on the outdoor portion of the track, the conduit and hangers underneath the track.
  • Epcot China pavilion – replace chilled water air conditioning units in the first and second floor mechanical rooms.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safari – replace thatch roof.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace – replace marina decking.
  • Downtown Disney Cirque du Soleil – roof repairs, resurfacing of areas and upgrade.
  • Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village – install high temperature protection on domestic hot water system.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort marina dock – remove and replace deck boards.
  • Pop Century Resort Hippie Dippie wading pool – sand filter re-piping.

Quick takes …

…With its sailing next Saturday, the Disney Magic will join the Disney Wonder in having enhanced security in the Youth Activities area. The wristbands issued to kids will include an RFID locator tag. The tag will allow parents and staff to automatically sign kids in and out using the waterproof wristband. It is recommended that kids wear the wristband for the entire length of the cruise, and any lost, broken or damaged wristband will result in a $25 charge to the parent's stateroom account. Guests should check with guest services if wristbands are lost. The RFID tag is a proximity identification tag, not a GPS tag, and cannot be used to locate the child outside the Youth Activity areas.

…Walt Disney World Passholders can get a free ride-along at the Richard Petty Driving Experience from now through March 31. You can ride shotgun with a professional driving instructor in a NASCAR-style race car for three laps just by showing your annual passport. You can also enter to win an 18-lap King's Driving Experience and Richard Petty signed diecast car while you're there. Monthly winners can also win an 8-lap Rookie Driving Experience. The passholder must be at least 14 years old, and those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

…Passholders can get special suite-level seating for two Atlanta Braves spring training games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. For the games against the Houston Astros on March 7 and the St. Louis Cardinals on March 21, passholders can enjoy seats on the climate-controlled indoor suite level, a game program and a ballpark buffet for $80 including tax ($70 for ages 3-9). You can get your special passholder tickets by calling 407-938-3223.

…Walt Disney World has kept its Christmas decorations up longer than it has in the past. In fact, you can still see the Magic Kingdom’s holiday decorations, including the Castle Dreamlights, through this Thursday, January 14.

…The unusual cold snap has caused a great deal of plant damage all around Walt Disney World. It will probably take the Horticulture department quite a while to recover from the effects.

…New Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs paid a visit to Walt Disney World last week to get acquainted with his new domain. Staggs spent some time meeting with cast members both onstage and backstage. There are some photos of his visit on the Disney Parks Blog (link).

…The Walt Disney World Resort is officially on Facebook (link).

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The Year to Volunteer

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).


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

  • 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

  • Crystal Palace Restaurant – closed for refurbishment through February 15, 2010.
  • Splash Mountain – closed for refurbishment through February 27, 2010.
  • Cinderella Castle – facade refurbishment January 12 through March 31.


  • Test Track – closed for refurbishment through January 17.
  • Living with the Land – closed for refurbishment January 18 through February 5.
  • Cantina de San Angel – closed for major renovation in January for an undetermined period of time. Taqueria Del Lago will remain open.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Prince Caspian meet-and-greets ended on January 9, but the Narnia walk-through attraction will remain open.
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – closed for refurbishment through January 15, 2010.
  • Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment February 15 through March 27.
  • Studio Catering Company – closed for refurbishment February 15 through March 27.

Animal Kingdom

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.


  • The Dig Site feature pool at Coronado Springs – closed for refurbishment through January 31.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – was scheduled to reopen January 9, 2010 after annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – closed through March 20, 2010 for annual refurbishment.


  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Current Discounts & Promotions

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 announces new gift-card-with-stay vacation package offer

Walt Disney World has announced an offer that will give you a free Disney Gift Card select vacation packages. The offer is good on vacation packages of five days or longer, and the size of the gift card varies depending on the resort category at which you are staying.

Stays at at Value resorts get you a free $300 gift card per room (essentially $60 per night), Moderate resorts qualify for a $500 gift card per room ($100 per night) and Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts qualify for $750 per room ($150 per night). Obviously, the per-night average decreases for longer stays.

The deal is good for stays January 3 through June 3, 2010, with blackout periods depending on resort category, and can be booked from now through March 27, 2010. The eligible nights are:

  • Value resorts – January 3, January 10-12, January 18-February 9, February 15-March 27, April 11-June 3;
  • Moderate resorts – January 3, January 10-12, January 18-March 27, April 11-June 3;
  • Deluxe ande Deluxe Villas resorts – January 3-11, January 19-March 27, April 11-June 3; and

The gift cards can be used for merchandise, recreation, dining, special event tickets, sports, recreation, tours and more at participating locations throughout Walt Disney World.

The number of rooms available at these rates are limited. Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World web site (link) or by using code QGX if booking via the Walt Disney World Reservations phone line (407-939-7607) 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.