Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for April 11 – April 17, 2011

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News and Views

Disney Cruise Line headed for New York, Galveston, Seattle, Hawai'i and more in 2012 | Segway suit settlement finally approved | Haunted Mansion hitchhiking ghost updates unveiled | All aboard (in miniature) | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Disney Cruise Line headed for New York, Galveston, Seattle, Hawai'i and more in 2012

Last week, the Disney Cruise Line announced its 2012 itineraries at a press conference at New York City's Chelsea Piers. MousePlanet was there and had a full report last Thursday.

The Disney Fantasy will have its maiden voyage on March 31, 2012 (again, probably following a number of shakedown, media, and travel agent cruises), and there will be three ships sailing from Port Canaveral for a month and a half until the Disney Magic departs on May 23 for a two-night trip to its summer port in New York City. The Disney Dream will continue its 3-, 4-, and 5-night Bahamian itineraries for the full year. The Fantasy will take over the Magic's 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. The Magic will sail a 6-night Western Caribbean cruise to change to Friday dockings at Port Canaveral, then sail three more 7-night Caribbean cruises (one Western, then two Eastern) before switching over to 4- and 5-night Bahamian itineraries (two 4-night, five 5-night) until it heads north.

At the end of the summer, the Magic will depart New York City on September 17 and arrive in its winter home port of Galveston, Texas, on September 22, when it will begin its new itinerary of 7-night Western Caribbean cruises. In December, the Magic will sail a 6-night cruise on December 15, an 8-night holiday cruise on December 21, and another 6-night cruise on December 29.

The Disney Wonder will be moving around a bit, as well. It will sail its 7-night Mexican Riviera cruises for most of the year, but will take a 15-night cruise to Hawai'i departing on April 29, with three stops in the islands and one in Ensenada, Mexico before returning to Los Angeles. It will then leave on May 14 to reposition to Vancouver for its first cruise of its second year of Alaskan cruises, but that first cruise will end in Seattle, which will be its home port for the rest of the 2012 Alaska cruise season (it's in Vancouver for the entire season this year). When it's done up north, its final cruise will leave for Alaska from Seattle on September 3, but finish up in Vancouver. The Wonder will leave Vancouver on September 10 to head back to the Port of Los Angeles. The ship will then head out on four Pacific Coast cruises, with stops in San Francisco, San Diego, and Ensenada. Once done with that itinerary, it will return to its Mexican Riviera itineraries.

All cruises are available for purchase now, with the exception of the East Coast repositioning cruises for the Magic. The Hawai'i cruise is currently sold out, but spaces may become available in the next couple of days as deposits for the initial bookings become due.

Reservations may be booked through the Disney Cruise Line website, by calling the Disney Cruise Line at 888-DCL-2500 (888-325-2500), or your travel agent. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

In New Fantasyland, the upper facade of Beast's Castle is completed, while work continues on the main level of the Be Our Guest restaurant. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Meanwhile, work continues on the rockwork to the left of the building. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Segway suit settlement finally approved

The final settlement in the lawsuit to allow use of private Segway transporters at Walt Disney World parks has been approved. In February, we reported that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) had passed revised regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) aimed specifically at the use of Segways in theme parks that pushed to allow the use of Segway transporters if the theme parks asked for a letter from a doctor, which would itself violate the ADA. It now seems that the judge hearing the case did not agree with that tactic.

The DISunplugged blog reported last week that U.S. District Court Judge Gregory A. Presnell agreed that the revised regulations were in conflict with the existing law, and that Disney's policy was justified. Presnell judged that the settlement was fair, and approved the final settlement, effectively ending the suit. For more information, read the DISunplugged blog entry or the actual court order.

Apparently, someone realized how incongruous the original "disguise" for the castle show projector booth was. The theming has been removed, and there will presumably be another attempt to "hide" the booth with new theming. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Haunted Mansion hitchhiking ghost updates unveiled

The changes at the Haunted Mansion are now complete, with the updated Hitchhiking Ghosts sequence now unveiled and operational. The new final-scene projections have gone high-tech, and Phineas, Ezra and Gus now actually interact with the guests in the Doom Buggies. They have been seen removing the heads of guests, swapping heads with the guests, and more. Ricky Brigante from Inside the Magic has a video of three passes through the final sequence that include the removal of his head (having it blown up like a balloon and returning to its usual place). Not a bit gory, and lots of fun. Take a look below:

All aboard (in miniature)

The Disney Parks team has come up with another great way to utilize their technology and access to behind-the-railings areas to produce a great point-of-view video actually shot from on board the G-gauge trains in the landscaped layout between Epcot's Germany and Italy pavilions, ending with a look at the miniature village's own Flower & Garden Festival. Check it out!

A Personal Appeal, Year Six

There is nothing more heartbreaking than a baby who is born too soon having medical complications that leave them with medical difficulties for life, or worse, that never let them leave the hospital alive. On May 15, 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 five years, through the generosity of MousePlanet readers, friends, family, and co-workers, we have raised nearly $19,000. This year, let's do something really 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, 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 site near you. If you join me in walking, money that you raise will help babies in your area to get a fighting chance to survive!

The Yong Feng Shangdian shop has reopened at Epcot's China pavilion with a much more open floor plan. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

In addition the the "Duffy on a Stick" replacement for what was once the masks at the Kidcot stations around World Showcase, there is also a booklet with stickers that you can get that promote the round-the-world theme of the upcoming Cars movie. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

For more information about why I'm walking, or to donate to my walk, please go to my fundraising page. To sign up to join Team MousePlanet, please go to the team page. Let's show those struggling babies how much MousePlanet readers care!

With the help of our fantastic Guide Editors, we've just completed a major update of the park restaurant menus from Walt Disney World. Click on the "Dining" section from our Walt Disney World Guide to see the list. Please help us keep the menus up to date! Send photos or scans of park menus to menus@mouseplanet.com to help us keep our listings updated!

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Diamond Horseshoe exterior staircase – rehab work.
  • Magic Kingdom Main Street U.S.A., Haunted Mansion, Main Street Railroad Station, Space Mountain, Tomorrowland, Caribbean Plaza, Carousel of Progress – power installations.
  • Magic Kingdom Jungle Cruise – plumbing work.
  • Magic Kingdom Lunching Pad – mechanical work.
  • Epcot Wonders of Life pavilion elevator – electrical repairs.
  • Epcot Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion elevator – electrical upgrades.
  • Epcot Norway pavilion The Puffin's Roost – electrical work.
  • Epcot American Adventure fountain – rehab.
  • Epcot Mexico pavilion – electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Fantasmic tech booth – electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios front entrance plaza – electrical rehab work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Anaheim Produce – construction work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Phineas and Ferb meet & greet location – construction work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom animal nutrition building – mechanical work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom entrance complex – electrical work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom bus drop area – electrical equipment installation.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace work area behind restrooms between Tren-D and Once Upon a Toy – electrical work.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace LEGO Imagination Center – installation of low voltage communications cabling.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace Little Miss Matched – installation of exterior signage.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace World of Disney work area – general construction work.
  • Downtown Disney Pleasure Island Harley-Davidson store – interior & exterior improvementss & tenant build-out.
  • Main Entrance Car Care Center – def tank installation electrical work.
  • Contemporary Resort – energy management system upgrade.
  • Beach Club Resort guard shack – electrical work.
  • Yacht & Beach Club Resorts old bus entrance – electrical work for fast arm gates.
  • Yacht Club main guardhouse – electrical work.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort Customs House – electrical work.
  • All-Star Sports Resort commercial building – electrical work.

Expansion work on the LEGO Imagination Center in Downtown Disney continues. It looks like it'll be a while before it's finished. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

While Disney decides what comes next on the Hyperion Wharf project, the former site of the Rock 'n 'Roll Beach Club has been planted with grass. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Quick takes …

…The return of the Enchanted Tiki Room – Under New Management (or back to the old management?) has been pushed back again, this time to August 16. The longer closure would certainly seem to indicate some show changes are on the way, whether back to the original Tropical Serenade or some other new show that we haven't seen yet.

…While the new Cars 2-themed meet-and-greet at Disney's Hollywood Studios will debut on May 16, Lightning McQueen will have even more adventures coming, as he will be joining the cast of the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, replacing the Herbie the Love Bug sequence. Herbie will still be visible during the Studio Backlot Tour, but the unibody and split-half versions of the venerable VW Beetle will be retired from active duty.

…A new movie character will be appearing in the Magic Kingdom's Adventureland starting this Friday. Angelica, the pirate character played by Penelope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides will appear adjacent to the Pirate's League location in Caribbean Plaza, trying to put together a new crew. Perhaps she can find volunteers among those newly minted pirates coming from their induction at the Pirate's League. The movie hits theaters on May 20.

…Registration for the Expedition Everest Challenge, scheduled for May 7, is now sold out. Registration for the event's Kids Races is 60 percent full.

…Registration is now open for all races during the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend. Sign up now for the Half Marathon, Half Marathon Relay, Disney Family Fun Run 5K, and Disney Kids' Races. Registration for the weekend's ChEAR Squad will open later.

…Registration for the events for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012 is now open.

Crowd update

Crowd information and forecasts are provided by TouringPlans.com, the Web site of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, to help you better plan your trip to the Disneyland Resort. TouringPlans.com gathers wait time data from a team of in-park researchers and users of their Lines mobile phone application, and then predicts crowd levels for the next 365 days. Using a scale from 1 to 10, TouringPlans.com has a 90 percent accuracy of predicting the crowds to within 1 point, helping visitors prepare for their trips so they can "Do more. Wait less."

Crowds will remain high this week, but will be down slightly this week from last, which had high numbers despite more severe weather. Crowds will continue to climb for their Easter-week peaks following this week. Our research team and fabulous Disney World Lines users submit wait times year round. Last year, here's what our statistical team measured for the upcoming week:

Date Overall
Monday, April 11, 2011 8 out of 10
Tuesday, April 12, 2011 9 out of 10
Wednesday, April 13, 2011 8 out of 10
Thursday, April 14, 2011 8 out of 10
Friday, April 15, 2011 9 out of 10
Saturday, April 16, 2011 9 out of 10
Sunday, April 17, 2011 10 out of 10

This week sees a slight increase over the previous week with most days hitting 8 or 9 on the Crowd Calendar. Crowds will be better this week than next week, Easter Week, which is a veritable sea of 10s.

  • If you want to scope out the Star Tours 2 construction walls, visit the Studios on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.
  • Epcot is the Park to Avoid on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday.
  • No special events that will affect crowds this week.

See Disney World crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disney World wait times on your iPhone, Android, or smartphone.
Do more. Wait less.

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Coming up

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Mickey's Toontown Fair – closed permanently to make way for Fantasyland expansion.
  • Enchanted Tiki Room – Under New Management – closed since January 13, due to a fire. Expected to reopen on August 16.
  • Liberty Square River Boat – closed May 2-25 for refurbishment.


  • No known current refurbishments.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours – closed for refurbishment through May 19, 2011.

Animal Kingdom

  • Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment through June 1, 2011.


  • Saratoga Springs Resort – Paddock Leisure Pool closed through June 29 for expansion into a new feature pool, wet play area, and quick-service eatery. During the renovations, the Paddock bus stop and laundry facility will also be closed. Guests can use the High Rock Spring pool near the Carriage House or the leisure pools at Congress Park or The Grandstand. Nearby bus stops can be found at The Springs, Congress Park and The Carousel. Alternate laundry facilities are located at The Springs and Congress Park.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – Wilderness Pool closed through April 22 for refurbishment.

Water Parks

  • No known current refurbishments.


  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
  • LEGO Imagination Center – temporarily relocated near Once Upon a Toy through mid-April during expansion of the store.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Passholder merchandise discounts extended through 2011

Walt Disney World Passholder merchandise discounts have been extended through the end of 2011. Epcot After 4pm, Weekday Select, Seasonal and Annual Passholders get 10 percent off purchases at selected locations, while Premium Annual Passholders (including bi-coastal Premier Annual Passholders) get 20 percent off. The discount is available at Walt Disney World-owned and operated shops, but not those stores owned by "operating participants" (third-party stores). The discount is also not valid on a long list of products, and can not be combined with other discounts, offers or promotions. For a full list of what is not included in this discount, check out the Art of Disney Parks Web site.

Passholder discounts now available through mid-April

Passholders can save 32 to 42 percent off their room rates for stays at Walt Disney World for most nights February 6 – April 16, 2011.

  • Value resorts – 32 percent off
  • Moderate resorts, including Fort Wilderness Cabins – 35 percent off
  • Deluxe Resorts – 32-42 percent off
    (Note: Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian Resort are 32 percent off)
  • Deluxe Villa Resorts – 42 percent off

You can book the deal from now through your day of arrival, through the rooms may go fast. The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas are not included. An adult passholder must show their pass at check-in. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.

Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7939, or your travel agent and using booking code AU6. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Sail across the ocean for $57 per night

If you'd like to take a TransAtlantic cruise for as little as $57 per night, now is the time to book! The 14-night Eastbound repositioning cruise of the Disney Magic is offering eight days at sea and stops at Castaway Cay; Madeira, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Gibraltar, U.K.; and Barcelona Spain for just $799 per person based on double occupancy for an inside stateroom with restrictions. The cruise leaves Port Canaveral on May 14 and arrives in Barcelona on May 28.

Reservations may be booked through the Disney Cruise Line website, by calling the Disney Cruise Line at 800-951-3532, or your travel agent. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Military ticket offer

From now through September 28, 2011, active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with either the Park Hopper or Water Parks Fun and More option for $138 per ticket, plus tax, or with both the Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More options for $165 per ticket, plus tax. No Base ticket is available with this offer.

The tickets expire and may not be used after October 1, 2011. The tickets may not be used at all Walt Disney World theme parks and other gated attractions on the following blockout dates: December 27-31, 2010 and April 17-23, 2011. Additionally, the tickets may not be used at the Magic Kingdom on July 4, 2011.

Eligible service members include active or retired members of the U.S. military including the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reservists. Disney Military Promotional Tickets can be purchased at Shades of Green or at a participating military base (MWR/ITT) office. There is no tax charged for these tickets but they must be activated at a theme park ticket window. Tickets may also be purchased at Walt Disney World Park Ticket Offices and Guest Relations Offices where tax will be charged. No more than six tickets may be purchased by any eligible member of the U.S. military (or their spouse, but not both) for themselves, family members, and friends, and all tickets must be purchased at the same time. If the immediate family has more than five dependents, additional tickets may be purchased for the dependents, however, additional tickets for guests may not be purchased. Valid military identification is required. The tickets are non-transferable and may not be resold.

The tickets may be upgraded to Seasonal Passes or Florida Resident Weekday Select Passes (for Florida Residents), or Annual Passes, Premium Annual Passes, or Disney Premier Pass with credit toward the upgrade based on the actual price paid. The no-expiration option and other upgrades, such as additional days, are not available.

For complete information regarding Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets, military personnel may call (407) 939-7830 or participating U.S. military base ticket offices.

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