Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for May 9 – May 15, 2011

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

News and Views

Dinner and a movie at Downtown Disney | Star Tours & Star Wars Weekends news roundup | New Passholder offers | Aulani webcast next week | March of Dimes; last call for contributions | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Dinner and a movie at Downtown Disney

A new option will be available starting next Monday for moviegoers at the AMC Downtown Disney 24 multiplex. Six AMC Dine-In Theatres (also referred to as Fork & Screen) will provide restaurant cuisine and cocktails with a movie. Reserved seating and seat-side service (with personal call buttons to alert servers) are part of the experience. The menu includes quesadillas, burgers, flatbread pizzas, grilled sandwiches, and more, and a wide variety of beer, wine, cocktails, and non-alcoholic drinks. Those attending movies at the Dine-In Theatres must be at least 18 years old or accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Ticket prices range from $6 to $13 depending on the time of day and day of week. Appetizers run $6.59-$8.99, while adult entrees will cost $8.59-$11.99. Children's entrees (ages 12 and younger) will be $6.99. Take a look at a sample menu (not necessarily the one that will be available at the Downtown Disney location).

In addition to the Dine-In Theatres, MacGuffins Bar & Lounge will also open next Monday. The area will also be restricted to those either 18 and older or accompanied by a parent or guardian. MacGuffins will feature a full-service bar and the full Dine-In Theatre menu, and will be open for hanging out before and after movies. The multiplex's other 18 screens (including the ETX auditorium) and new Marketplace concession area will also remain open.

AMC operates seven other Dine-In Theatre locations in Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, and Texas.

Star Tours & Star Wars Weekends news roundup

…The construction walls around Star Tours are down, final signage is going up, and cast member previews are scheduled for this Friday and Saturday. It's possible that there will be soft openings on the same days, or possibly a special ride opportunity for attendees of the Destination D event. A special cast member event will take place before park opening on May 24 or May 26. For updates on the possible soft-opening status of the attraction, check our friends at startourslive.com, who are sitting outside the attraction all day, every day, just watching so that they can notify followers the moment that soft openings happen.

A new marquee for Star Tours features the new Starspeeder 1000, planets, and Star Wars characters. The image will also be an attraction poster at Disneyland Park. Image © Disney.

…500 lucky Star Tours fans will get the opportunity to attend a special meet-up run by the Disney Parks Blog before the attraction's official opening. The meet-up was announced on the blog and on Twitter last Thursday morning and quickly filled. The event runs from just after midnight until 2 a.m. Thursday night, May 19 (or Friday morning, May 20, if you prefer). The meet-up promises a panel discussion with Walt Disney Imagineers providing behind-the-scenes details about the attraction, including a chance to ask the Imagineers questions about the making of the attraction, and "a few surprises." This is the first official Disney Parks Blog meet-up at Walt Disney World, but there are sure to be more in the future.

The new marquee was installed last Wednesday morning. Image © Disney.

…Daniel Logan (Young Boba Fett) has been added to the list of celebrities scheduled to attend the first weekend of Star Wars Weekends, May 20-22.

…If you're planning to ride Star Tours on the attraction's opening day, be prepared for a long wait. Some within Walt Disney World management are predicting that May 20 will be the busiest day in the history of Disney's Hollywood Studios, and are expecting that the wait for Star Tours may be as much as five to six hours.

New Passholder offers

Walt Disney World passholders will be able to save up to 75 percent on select merchandise at a special early-morning sale at the World of Disney on Saturday, July 23. The Downtown Disney Marketplace location will be open from 6:30-9 a.m. for the sale, which will feature special "doorbuster" items, surprise markdowns, and more. You'll need to present your passholder ID and a government-issued photo ID to get into the store for the sale, and again when making your purchase. There are other restrictions on the sale (including the fact that it must be for personal use only and not for buying merchandise with the intent to resell it). Check the page on the passholder site for more information.

Passholders can also get a free, exclusive Star Tours lanyard during the third weekend of Star Wars Weekends. The lanyard will be available June 3-5 while supplies last at the Jabba's Hutt merchandise tent, located behind Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. There is a limit of one lanyard per passholder, and is for personal use only.

Aulani webcast next week

Next week, the Disney Vacation Club will be presenting a special webcast featuring Travel Channel star Samantha Brown. The show, promoting the soon-to-open Aulani: A Disney Resort & Spa on O'ahu and featuring behind-the-scenes footage, will be broadcast May 17-21. Viewers will receive a special Disney character lithograph for watching the show. You can register to watch the broadcast at the event website. Check out the preview below:

A Personal Appeal for the March of Dimes; the walk is this week!

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.

For more information about why I'm walking, or to donate to my walk, please go to my fundraising page. Let's give those struggling babies a fighting chance to survive!

Send us your menu photos!

We've recently 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 Liberty Square walkway – plumbing work.
  • Transportation & Ticket Center West Gate area – plumbing, electrical, and tile work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – Star Tours replacement billboard.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Island Mercantile – electrical work.
  • Typhoon Lagoon Leaning Palms – electrical work.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa accent lighting – electrical work.
  • Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village – automatic door operator installation.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort Old Port Royale & Jamaica bus stops – concrete work.

Quick takes …

…To help promote the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Captain Blackbeard (played by Ian McShane) will replace Davy Jones (Bill Nighy) as the face on the misty waterfall before the drop into the caverns beginning May 20. Davy Jones will return to the waterfall later this year.

…This coming weekend promises to be quite busy at Walt Disney World, with the Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th event, Pixar Weekend for the final weekend of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, Car Masters Weekend at Downtown Disney, and likely crowds at Disney's Hollywood Studios hoping for a soft-opening of Star Tours. If you're planning to be there, watch for heavy crowds.

…The British Airwaves, the new musical group at the United Kingdom pavilion at Epcot, which we mentioned last week, is performing by the name of English Channel while at Epcot.

…We're hearing rumors of a possible construction-related delay of a few days for the Phineas & Ferb meet and greet, though the official date is still May 16. Buzz Lightyear and Woody will now be available together at the Pixar Place meet-and-greet location all day. The location will be open from 9:15 a.m.-2:15 p.m., and again from 3:15 p.m. to park closing.

…We're pleased to hear that our friends at Owner's Locker have a discount that is now an official perk for Disney Vacation Club members. By clicking on the special link on the Member Perks page of the DVC Member site, you can get a 20 percent discount off of the Owner's Locker membership fee.

…A new canopy has been installed on Deck 10 Forward of the Disney Wonder to provide a partially sheltered area from which to view the Alaskan scenery. The ship is just completing its first 7-day Alaskan cruise, after repositioning from Los Angeles to Vancouver the previous week. The ship will continue its Alaskan itineraries through September 6, when it will go into dry dock for two weeks. It will leave Vancouver on September 20 to return to Los Angeles.

…The Give Kids The World Village celebrates 25 years of operation this coming weekend. The 70-acre resort in Kissimmee, near Walt Disney World, was founded in 1986 to provide children with life-threatening illnesses a place to enjoy a one-week fantasy vacation, including attraction tickets, meals, and more, all underwritten by founder Henri Landwirth and his family, corprorations, wish-granting organizations, and generous individuals. In its 25 years, the resort has played host to more than 107,000 families from around the world. As part of the anniversary celebration, then resort will unveil two new buildings—a visitor center and a place for special ceremonies for each child.

…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 individual half marathon is now 55 percent full!

…Registration for the events for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012 is now open. Note: Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is now 60 percent full!

Crowd update


Crowd information and forecasts are provided by TouringPlans.com, the Web site of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, to help you better plan your trip to the Walt Disney World 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."


The TouringPlans.com Crowd Calendar reflects how long you will wait in line for attractions at the Walt Disney World theme parks, on average. As we continue in the gap between Spring Break and Summer Vacation, expect crowds to remain at average levels 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, May 9, 2010 6 out of 10
Tuesday, May 10, 2010 4 out of 10
Wednesday, May 11, 2010 3 out of 10
Thursday, May 12, 2010 6 out of 10

This week sees moderate numbers on the Crowd Calendar everyday, with low numbers over the weekend. Check out the Disney World Park Crowd Levels page on TouringPlans.com for park-specific predictions.

  • The Magic Kingdom is the Park to Avoid on Thursday.
  • Epcot is a Best Park on Monday and Thursday, with the resort-wide crowd level only a 6 on each day.
  • Animal Kingdom is the park to avoid Sunday through Wednesday. Visit it on Friday or Saturday for the lowest crowds!

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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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

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

  • Sounds Dangerous Starring Drew Carey – seasonal downtime beginning May 1.
  • Phineas & Ferb play-n-greet on near Mama Melrose's – opens May 16.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh meet-n-greet at Art of Disney Animation – begins May 16.
  • Star Tours – closed for refurbishment through May 19.
  • Cars 2 meet-n-greet near MuppetVision 3-D – opens June 5.
  • Lightning McQueen replaces Herbie the Love Bug at Lights, Motors, Action! – begins June 5.

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.

Water Parks

  • Blizzard Beach – closes for annual refurbishment October 30.


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

Current Discounts & Promotions

Free dining returns

Last week, a two-tiered free dining package was announced for Disney Visa Rewards cardholders, and the package becomes available to the general public today. The free dining plan is available for stays August 28 through September 24. The deal includes lodging, base Magic Your Way passes (you can upgrade them with any of the available add-ons), a 20-page Disney's PhotoPass Photo Book, and the free dining plan. Additional pages may be added to your Photo Book, at standard cost, if you wish.

If you choose a Value Resort for your stay, you'll receive the free Quick Service Dining Plan (two quick-service meals and two snacks per person per night, plus one resort refillable drink mug per person). If you'd prefer to stay at a Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resort, you'll get the free standard Disney Dining Plan (one table- service meal, one quick-service meal, and one snack per person per night). Those at value resorts can upgrade their Quick Service Dining Plan to the standard plan for the difference in the plan's cost. The dining plans do not include gratuities or alcoholic beverages.

One thing to note here: Since these dates are already within the 180-day booking window, some table-service restaurants might already be booked solid. Don't count on having the ability to book any specific restaurant without checking first. Of course, if dining is the most important part of your trip, you can book your dining reservations first to lock in your favorites, then find a resort for those nights. You can always cancel the dining reservations if you can't get a resort for those dates.

You can book through August 27 while availability lasts, but reservations may go fast. The discount codes for the Disney Rewards Visa package are I25 for Value Resorts and O2M for Moderates and above. The codes for the general public were not available at publication time.

Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7211, or your travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Room-only, Deluxe/Deluxe Villas-only discounts released for summer

Walt Disney World has announced a new set of room-only discounts for Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts only for stays through mid-August. The discounts provide 30 percent off for stays most nights from June 15 through August 13 (25 percent at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge and Polynesian Resort), with discounts ranging from 20 percent to 30 percent for most nights from April 22 through June 14. Note that this offer does not include suites and three-bedroom Grand Villas.

You can book all of these dates through April 30, and dates starting May 29 can be booked through May 28. Beware, though as rooms may go fast. The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas are not included.

Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7837, or your travel agent and using booking code M2X. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Passholder discount through early June

Passholders can save on stays through June 2, including a special rate of $90 plus tax at select Value Resorts most Friday and Saturday nights May 6-27.

Passholders can book through the day before arrival. Beware, though as 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.

Book your reservation through the Walt Disney World passholder website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-5691, or through your travel agent and using booking code L2H. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Passholder discounts released for summer

Walt Disney World has announced a new set of passholder discounts for stays through mid-August. The discounts provide 20-35 percent off for stays most nights from June 3 through August 13. The Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian Resort are excluded for all dates, and Wilderness Lodge is excluded June 3-14. Passholders will save 35 percent at Deluxe Villa Resorts, 30 percent at Deluxe Resorts, and 20 percent at Moderate and Value Resorts.

Passholders can book through the day before arrival. Beware, though as 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 Passholder website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7414, or your travel agent and using booking code QT9. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

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.

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  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



  1. By jpg391

    Great update.

  2. By KrisCynical

    Do you know if DVC members can just contact Owner's Locker and give them their DVC membership number rather than clicking the link through DVC's website? My family has been DVC members for more than 10 years and we have NEVER been able to get into the website due to a circular loop from hell at the login page. Multiple calls to tech support have done nothing to rectify the problem.

    Also, is this discount just for NEW lockers, or can it be applied to existing lockers? Or should I just e-mail them about that?

  3. By aidensdaddy

    I think a correction is needed for the Liberty Square Riverboat closure from May 2 - 25th. My family and I were there on May 12th and we rode on the riverboat, it was not closed.

  4. Discuss this article on MousePad.