Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for February 22, 2010 – February 28, 2010

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

News and Views

OSHA clears Disney | Flower & Garden; Flower Power | Braves training camp | EO not coming to Epcot | ESPN The Weekend | Construction update | Quick Takes …

OSHA clears Disney in stunt performer death

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cleared Walt Disney World of any safety violations in the death last summer of 30-year-old Anislav Varbanov while rehearsing for the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. The stunt performer was practicing a routine tumble roll when he landed awkwardly on his neck, causing a cervical spine fracture that led to his death.

This OSHA finding concludes all investigations into the three fatal cast member accidents at the resort last summer. OSHA had previously issued a safety recommendation in the death of actor Mark Priest (who was slipped while performing in Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial the week before Varbanov's accident) and fined Disney the maximum for a first-time violation in the death of Austin Wuennenberg in a fatal monorail crash in the early morning hours of July 5. Wuennenberg's mother has filed a wrongful death suit against Disney in that incident.

Flower & Garden Festival kicks off next week; Flower Power concert series lineup

The 17th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival kicks off on March 3 and will again run a record 75 days until May 16. Popular events such as Great American Gardeners and Disney Gardening at Home return again this year.

Once again, the Flower Power concert series will entertain Flower & Garden Festival attendees, though for the second year in a row, the performances will only take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Show times for the performances, at the America Gardens Theater, are 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m., and are included in the price of admission to the park. Here's the current concert lineup (subject, as always, to change):

  • March 5 to 7 – Jose Feliciano
  • March 12 to 14 – Paul Revere & The Raiders
  • March 19 to 21 – David Cassidy
  • March 26 to 28 – Starship featuring Mickey Thomas
  • April 2 to 4 – Tony Orlando
  • April 9 to 11 – Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone
  • April 16 to 18 – Ricky Nelson Remembered Featuring the Nelsons
  • April 23 to 25 – Atlanta Rhythm Section
  • April 30 to May 2 – Fran Cosmo (former lead singer of Boston)
  • May 7 to 9 – Davy Jones
  • May 14 to 16 – Chubby Checker & The Wildcats

A limited edition ear hat themed to Alice in Wonderland will become available at Walt Disney World and Disneyland in April. It comes with a custom hat box and features many links to the reimagined film Alice in Wonderland that will be released next Friday. Image from Disney Parks Blog.

Braves training camp underway

The Atlanta Braves baseball team is gearing up for its 13th spring training at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Pitchers and catchers reported Friday, and full-squad workouts start tomorrow. The Major League Baseball team is scheduled to play 16 games at Champion Stadium at the complex.

The season kicks off with a game against the division rival New York Mets on March 3, and closes with a game against the Houston Astros, who train in nearby Kissimmee, on March 31. Single game tickets cost from $15 to $39, though there are additional charges for games against the Yankees, Phillis, Mets and Cardinals, plus weekend and night games. There will also be a $3 surcharge for day-of-game purchases. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster by phone 800-745-3000 and Web (link). Group tickets and mini-packs are available by calling 407-WDW-GAME (407-939-4263) or online (link).

Here's the current schedule, subject to change:

  • March 3 – New York Mets at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 4 Pittsburgh Pirates at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 5 – Washington Nationals at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 7 – Houston Astros at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 9 – Philadelphia Phillies at 7:05 p.m.
  • March 10 – New York Mets at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 12 – Pittsburgh Pirates at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 13 – Toronto Blue Jays at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 16 – Florida Marlins at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 19 – Detroit Tigers at 6:05 p.m.
  • March 21 – St. Louis Cardinals at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 24 – Philadelphia Phillies at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 26 – Detroit Tigers at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 27 – Washington Nationals at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 30 – New York Yankees at 1:05 p.m.
  • March 31 – Houston Astros at 1:05 p.m.

Captain EO-to-Epcot rumors false, sources say

MousePlanet's Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix reports:

The Disneyland Resort promised "On Monday, we'll be making a special Captain EO announcement on Twitter," which has set of a flurry of speculation that the film may also return to Epcot park in Walt Disney World, where it was shown from 1986 - 1994. Sources have told MousePlanet that there really are no plans to bring EO back to Epcot at this time, and that the announcement has nothing to do with Walt Disney World. We'll update this article after the big announcement is made public.

It'll be another smorgasbord of memorabilia when Star Wars Weekends come to Disney's Hollywood Studios from May 21 through June 13. Getting an early start will be an open-edition collectible that we've mentioned previously, paired figurines of Jedi Mickey and his droid, R2-MK. The set will be available starting in April at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Image from the Disney Parks Blog.

Becoming available during Star Wars Weekends will be a very limited edition of 1,980 Holographic Emperor Stitch figures in honor of the 30th anniversary of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. The figure, on a numbered back card and in a collector blister case, will cost $11.95. It'll only be available at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Image from StarWars.com.

Also not available until the event is a set of 3-3/4" action figures that for the first time features a Disney cast member attired as a Star Tours officer. The set is a boarding party for the attraction, as seen in the pre-board video. The limited edition of 15,000 sets will also be available at the Disneyland Resort, and will cost $39.95. Image from StarWars.com

Wide World of Sports rebranding headlines ESPN The Weekend

ESPN The Weekend returns to Disney's Hollywood Studios for the seventh year this week, and it's just part of the festivities. The main event is the rebranding of the soon-to-be-former Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex with the ESPN name, which—like the Studios event—runs from Thursday through Sunday.

Events at the sport complex include a two-day Major League Soccer pre-season tournament and a special performance by the Harlem Globetrotters, while the Studios will host live TV and radio broadcasts, motorcades and Q&A sessions with athletes and ESPN personalities, the ESPN Sports Zone interactive area and more. The Champion 5K road race will also take place on Saturday at the Studios.

MousePlanet's Jeff Kober will be covering the event, and you can follow along on Twitter (link).

A personal appeal, for the fifth year

On April 25, I will once again be walking to raise money for the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Over the last four years, largely through the generosity of MousePlanet readers, we have managed to raise over $15,000. This year, let's do something special. My personal goal is to raise $5,000 this year. But you can help in ways other than donating to my walk. This year, for the first time, you can walk with me. Even if you aren't in the Albany, NY area, you can virtually walk with me by joining Team MousePlanet and walking at the March for Babies in your own area. For more information about why I'm walking, or to donate to my walk, please go to my fundraising page (link). To sign up to join Team MousePlanet, please go to the team page (link). Join me and help be a part of saving babies! Let's show how big a heart MousePlanet readers and MouseStation listeners have!

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Fantasyland adjacent to "it's a small world" – repair backstage service gate.
  • Magic Kingdom Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe – replacement of hydraulic jack.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – replacement of HVAC units.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Sunset Boulevard area restrooms – replacement of HVAC units.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest – drainage work.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort Fitness Building – exterior rehab and painting.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort DVC Tower – electrical upgrades.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Ol' Man Island – spa heater replacement.
  • Port Orleans Transportation Canal – sea wall repairs.
  • Coronado Springs Resort Ranchos pool – pool resurfacing.
  • Coronado Springs Resort Ranchos pool – installation of handrails and lift.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Loops 400 thru 1400, 2000, 2100 – removal and replacement of roof.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground roundhouse – recoating of roof.

Quick takes …

…Seats may still be available for this month's Tables in Wonderland Discovery Dinner at The Wave in the Contemporary Resort. This month's theme is local produce, featuring tomatoes from Myakka, strawberries from Plant City, opal basil and arugula from Odessa and Florida Gulf Coast spiny lobster. The cost for dinner is $92 per guest. Tables in Wonderland members can request reservations by sending an email to Tables in Wonderland (link) and providing your name, phone, address and number in your party. The event is limited to 50 diners.

…Last Tuesday, Walt Disney World officially unveiled a plaque marking the twinning of the resort with the town of Swindon in the United Kingdom. The plaque is located in the United Kingdom pavilion at Epcot's World Showcase, and will remain in place throughout 2010.

…Walt Disney World has introduced the My Magical Disney Vacation Web site, where you can design your own Disney vacation and share it with others. It's kind of cute, and we're wondering what you think of it. Check it out online (link).

…If you're wondering why the Disney Cruise Line didn't have a presence on Facebook, wonder no more. DCL launched its official Facebook page last week (link).

…The Holiday Inn on Hotel Plaza Boulevard in the Downtown Disney Resort Area finally reopened for business last Wednesday following a complete top-to-bottom makeover.

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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

  • February 19–22: TwirlMania 2010 (link).
  • February 27: Contest of Champions Nationals: School & Youth Rec Cheer (link).
  • February 27: Contest of Champions Nationals: All-Star Cheer & Dance (link).
  • March 3 – May 16: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
  • March 5: Contest of Champions Nationals: Studio Dance (link).
  • March 6–7. Contest of Champions Nationals: School Dance (link).
  • March 7, 2010: Disney's Princess Half-Marathon (link).
  • March 12–14: UCA National All Star Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • April 23–25: USASF/IASF Dance and Cheerleading World Championships (link).
  • April 23, 24, 30, May 1. Grad Nite (link).
  • May 21–June 13: Star Wars Weekends (link).
  • June 12: Expedition Everest Challenge (link).
  • October 1–2: Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon (link).

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom


  • 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

  • Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment through March 27.
  • Studio Catering Company – closed for refurbishment through March 27.
  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – closed for refurbishment through March 27.

Animal Kingdom

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.


  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Water Parks

  • Blizzard Beach – closed January 10 through March 20, 2010 for refurbishment.


  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Downtown Disney Marketplace – closed through March 5 for 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 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 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 – now through through March 27, April 11 through June 3
  • Moderate resorts –  now through March 27, April 11-June 3
  • Deluxe ande Deluxe Villas resorts – now through March 27, April 11 through June 3

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).

Save big with room-only discount rates

You can save 25 to 45 percent off your room rates for stays from now through late summer. Rates vary depending on your dates of travel, the length of your stay, and the resort category at which you are staying.

For any stay from now through August 14 (except for March 28 to April 10), you get some great discounts:

  • Value resorts: 25 percent off
  • Moderate resorts: 30 percent off
  • Deluxe Resorts: 35 percent off
  • Deluxe Villa Resorts: 40 percent off.

For stays of five or more nights from now through June 3 (except for March 28 to April 10), the discount is five percentage points higher:

  • Value resorts: 30 percent off
  • Moderate resorts: 35 percent off
  • Deluxe Resorts: 40 percent off
  • Deluxe Villa Resorts: 45 percent off.

The deal can be booked from now through March 27, 2010. 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 QNY 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 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) and Small World Vacations (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.