Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update for September 12 – 18, 2011
Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom confirmed for early next year | Walt Disney World Moms Panel applications open today | Meet Mark this fall in Florida | Characters take over lunch at Tusker House | Adventures By Disney adds new destinations, itineraries for 2012 | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update
Last week, Disney finally made the official announcement that Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is coming to the Magic Kingdom early next year. You may remember that Jeff Kober broke the story (and the name of the game) here in April, also noting that it was likely to be in place before the Fantasyland addition.
The announcement on the Disney Parks Blog noted that guests will be recruited by "Merlin the magician." It's uncertain whether they mean the wizard from The Sword in the Stone or a magician named Merlin, though there's a good chance that it's the former. Merlin will recruit guests to help save the Magic Kingdom from Disney villains, and will provide them with maps and clues.
In his April article, Kober was uncertain as to what device would be used to run the game, but said that it would not be a phone or Pal Mickey. Since we've seen Mickey's Midship Detective Agency onboard the Disney Dream use cards displaying QR codes, it's entirely possible that this game will utilize sensors checking for cards with QR codes. Mickey's Midship Detective Agency also supplied maps and other clues, so it's quite possible that this will be similar. According to Disney, the first facilities for the game are going up in Adventureland, disguised as giant crates and new spaces.
Since the game is called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, the odds are that it will not cross over with the popular Kingdom Keepers series of books, which also features teenagers protecting the Disney parks from being taken over by the Disney villains. Instead, it is likely that it will be a standalone adventure with its own internal mythology.
In the same article, Kober also mentioned a game to be available at Disney's new Aulani resort, which has already been confirmed, as well as another game to be introduced at Disney's Animal Kingdom. We'll have to wait to see how long it will be before that one materializes.
Have you been waiting for your chance to join the Walt Disney World Moms Panel? Well, get on it because it's time! The application period opens this morning at 9 a.m. EDT, and it will close this Thursday night (September 15), a minute before midnight. You don't have to be a mom, or even a dad, to be on the panel. You just have to be knowledgeable about the parks and willing to answer a lot of questions online every week.
To apply, you need to be at least 18 years old, have access to a computer and an Internet connection, be familiar with Walt Disney World and have visited at least once in the last year, be fluent in English, and provide your opinions and feedback. You will need to submit an autobiography and photo or video to be posted online, be available to travel Walt Disney World for orientation December 9-13 this year, be willing to commit to the panel for at least 24 months, and commit to complete at least 25 written responses per week, every week.
In return, panelists will be paid based on their contract and their specialty.
Panelists can't be employees or cast members of any part of the Walt Disney Company or employed anywhere in the travel or theme park industries, or be immediate family members, room- or house-mates with an employee/cast member. Panelists also cannot be employees, contractors, advisors, or consultants for any business that owns or operates any hotel, resort, or theme park in the counties surrounding Walt Disney World, and can't serve on the Board of Directors or have any substantial ownership stake in the same.
The panel is getting more specific in looking for specialist panelists. This year, they've listed general specialties for Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise Line, Disneyland, Adventures By Disney, runDisney, and Disney Vacation Club specialists.
More information is available at the Disney World Moms website.
Do you want a chance to meet Walt Disney World Resort Update editor Mark Goldhaber? There's a fun event coming to Walt Disney World this fall. Join Mark on Sunday, November 13, at 4 p.m. through park closing for the Big Bad Voodoo Food-Do To-Do.
We'll wander the last day of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, sample cuisines from around the world, and pause to watch each of the three performances by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (one of Mark's favorite groups) at 5:15, 6:30, and 7:45 p.m. on the final day of the Eat to the Beat concert series. After the last performance, we'll get one last snack, secure some international desserts, and then find a place to enjoy the evening's performance of Illuminations.
You can RSVP on Plancast, or by email. You can also just show up, but if Mark can snag some swag from the MouseAdventure goodie bag, he'll want to have enough for you! We'll select a starting point for our adventure in another month or so, so watch the Plancast plan or this page for that information. You can also follow @MPMark on Twitter for updates on November 13 if you want to join the group later on in the day.
Calling all with a spirit of adventure!
Are you ready for MouseAdventure: World Explorers III? The third iteration of the scavenger hunt/puzzle quest/race through Walt Disney World's parks takes place on Saturday, November 12 at Disney's Hollywood Studios (the game has been going on at the parks of the Disneyland Resort for more than 10 years now). Do you think that you know Disney's Hollywood Studios? We bet you don't know them as well as you think you do. Test your wits against those of our puzzle masters. For more information, check out the MouseAdventure information page and sign up now.
Donald's Safari Breakfast, the character breakfast at Tusker House in Disney's Animal Kingdom, has proven so successful that it has been expanded to another meal. Donald's Dining Safari Lunch begins serving on December 4. Dinner remains character-free for the time being.
The new character buffet replaces the non-character buffet lunch previously served there, and the menu is likely to remain the same. Carved beef, curry chicken and fish, tandoori tofu, chutneys, Tunisian cousous salad, samosas, and banana-cinnamon bread pudding are all on the menu. A separate kids' buffet with more familiar dishes will also be available for those with less-adventurous tastes.
The character lunch will cost $25.99-$29.99 for guests ages 10 and older ($14.99-16.99 for children ages 3-9). The variable price is due to the occasional seasonal offset pricing for buffets.
Reservations are available now via the Disney Dining Line, 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463), and will be available online later this week.
Adventures By Disney adds new destinations, itineraries for 2012
Adventures By Disney has added some new destinations and enhanced others for 2012, including Greece and Northern France. Egypt has returned as a destination following the end of the unrest there, while London, Paris, the Galapagos Islands, and Australia itineraries have been enhanced.
The "Greek Odyssey" itinerary features visits to Athens, Santorini, and Crete, with travelers getting to try their hand at sporting games in the Panathinaiko Stadium, host of the modern Olympic Games, and hear stories of Greek mythology under the moonlight at the Parthenon. There will be grape stomping for kids and a wine tasting for adults, and families will see how to make tsatziki cheese and learn Greek dancing.
On the "Esprit de France" tour, travelers travel from Paris to Normandy and the Loire valley. Stops on the itinerary include Monet's Gardens, a private dinner at the Louvre, and a night in an authentic Chateau. Omaha Beach, the Mont Saint-Michel monastery, and Versailles are yet more highlights. The trip also includes a viewing of the famed Bayeux Tapestry, a 225-foot-long cloth that depicts the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England.
Egypt is back in the fold with the "Pyramids, Pharoahs, and Ancient Treasures" tour, which includes stops in Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, the Nile, and Sharm El Sheikh.
Meanwhile, the "Discovery Down Under" tour of Australia has added a visit to the island of Tasmania to experience a zipline through a Eucalyptus forest and see actual Tasmanian Devils. "Grandiosos Galapagos" provides a seven-night cruise aboard the Galapagos Explorer and plenty of interesting animal encounters. The "Cities of Knights and Lights" tour of London and Paris has added a privately-guided tour of Windsor Castle, among other events.
For more information on these and other returning itineraries, visit the Adventures By Disney website or call your favorite Disney specialist travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.
Send us your menu photos
Click on the "Dining" section from our Walt Disney World Guide to see our complete list of of the park restaurant menus from Walt Disney World. Please help us keep the menus up to date! Send photos or scans of park menus to firstname.lastname@example.org to help us keep our listings updated.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
- Magic Kingdom Mad Tea Party – construction.
- Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover – construction.
- Magic Kingdom parking lot – construction.
- Magic Kingdom Aloha Isle – plumbing.
- Magic Kingdom Adventureland Verandah – plumbing (and possible dining patio removal).
- Epcot kennel – renovations.
- Epcot front entrance – construction.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular theater landing – construction.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Fantasmic – construction.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Great Movie Ride – lighting upgrade.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios kennel LDU location – electrical modifications.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Harambe Pin Cart – construction.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom gorilla enclosure – construction.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom pharmacy – electrical.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace World of Disney – construction.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace – shed replacements.
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa beach and courtyard pool buildings – mechanical.
- Disney's Polynesian Resort feature pool – mechanical.
- Disney's Contemporary Resort pool equipment room – electrical.
- Disney's Wilderness Lodge spa collector tanks – electrical.
- Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge covered walkway – roofing.
- Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge vacation villa store room – construction.
- Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts Stormalong Bay pool equipment room – electrical.
- Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort Treehouses – construction.
- Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort Alligator Bayou guest buildings – paint.
- Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort Magnolia Bend guest buildings – elevator.
- Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort all village pools & pool buildings – mechanical.
…Jabali, the new baby elephant at Disney's Animal Kingdom, has made his debut on the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna, well ahead of schedule. Keep an eye out for him your next time you head out for a ride.
…A new wine debuts at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at the Italy pavilion's Enoteca Castello wine shop. The Sogno d'Italia ("Dream of Italy") label features a Pinot Grigio and a Chianti, and will be made by Placido in Tuscany and imported by Banfi Vintners. It will be available by the bottle ($16.95) or by the glass ($6.00). The wines will continue to be sold at the shop after the Food & Wine Festival, and they'll eventually be added to wine lists at some Disney restaurants.
…We don't know what it's going to be yet, but there will indeed be some sort of recognition of Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary on October 1. The official Disney Parks Twitter account (@DisneyParks) posted last week: "We can’t reveal all the details, but guests at Magic Kingdom can expect special surprises on Oct.1." Obviously, with an announcement like that, we won't be seeing anything on the scale of previous anniversary celebrations, but you should at least get a snack, a pin, or something, in addition to maybe a special replay of the original dedication ceremony.
…The Disney Magic and Disney Wonder cruise ships have changed their manicure and pedicure offerings. The former Elemis "Exotic Hand Ritual" and "Sole Delight Foot Treatment with Pedicure" have been replaced by the Fire and Ice Manicure and Pedicure offerings.
…Disney issued a non-committal message about the installation of Internet enhancements at the Walt Disney World resort hotels. No word on whether it means that WiFi connectivity is being rolled out, whether the Next Generation Initiative will bear fruit in allowing advance Fastpass reservations, or if it'll be only minimally accessible to guests. We'll have more when there's actually news to report on this.
…Walt Disney World has been recognized as one of the Best Companies Supporting the Arts in America by the Business Committee for the Arts. Walt Disney World was recognized for its millions in cash donations, in-kind products, and voluntEARism. Walt Disney World will receive its award at a black-tie gala at New York's Central Park Boathouse on October 5.
…Artist and miniaturist Robert Olszewski will be signing products at the "Room for One More" event at the Contemporary Resort on September 30, and will also be appearing October 1 and 2 at locations to be announced. Many pieces are being debuted for Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary.
…Registration for the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon (scheduled for the weekend of February 24 to 26, 2012) is now open.
…Registration is now open for all races during the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend of October 1. Sign up now for the Disney Halloween 5K. Registration for the individual half marathon, the half marathon relay, and the kids races are now full. The 5K is 80 percent full, and the Finish Line Party post-race event is now 52 percent full.
…Registration for the events for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012 (on the weekend of January 7) is now open. Note: Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is now 85 percent full. The Marathon is 67 percent full, the Marathon Relay is 53 percent full, the Half Marathon is 65 percent full, and the Family Fun Run 5K is 53 percent full..
Crowd information and forecasts are provided by TouringPlans.com, the website 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."
Join our networks
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.
- September 7–8: Nights of Joy.
- September 30, October 1: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
- September 30 to November 13: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
- October 20–23: Childrens Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
- November 10, 2011 to January 3, 2012: Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
- November 11–13: Festival of the Masters.
- November 24–25, 27: Old Spice Classic.
- December 3–10: Pop Warner Super Bowl & National Cheer & Dance Competitions.
- January 5–8, 2012: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.
- February 24–26, 2012: Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend.
- Mickey's Toontown Fair – closed permanently to make way for Fantasyland expansion.
- Main Street Fire House – closed since July 10, to reopen as headquarters for the new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game in early 2012.
- Fronterland Shootin' Arcade – closed for refurbishment through September 30.
- The Lunching Pad – closed for refurbishment August 29 to September 16.
- Casey's Corner – closed for refurbishment August 30 to September 14.
- Swiss Family Treehouse – closed for refurbishment September 8 to November 17.
- Yakitori House – closed August 10 through November 15 for major refurbishment. Some of the restaurant's menu will be available for the entire length of the refurbishment from Japan's Food & Wine Festival kiosk, located on World Showcase Promenade.
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – closed for refurbishment September 4–24.
- Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment September 6–24.
- Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show – closed for refurbishment October 3–6.
- Fantasmic – will not be performed January 5 through February 12, 2012.
- Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment through September 14.
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Club Concierge carpet replacement September 13–16.
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – closed from September 19 – mid-2013 for refurbishment.
- Polynesian Resort – beach sand renourishment through September 16.
- Wilderness Lodge – villas walkway – cedar shake roof repairs September 12 through November 8.
- Yacht & Beach Club – building exterior repair / refinishing through September 30.
- Old Key West Resort – roadway repaving throughout the resort through September 12.
- Old Key West Resort – Olivia's building metal roof repairs through September 23.
- Saratoga Springs Resort villa buildings exterior refurbishment from August 23 through summer 2012. Cleaning and painting will be done Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., one villa at a time.
- Port Orleans Riverside Magnolia Bend leisure pool near buildings 80/85 – closed for refurbishment September 5 to October 7.
- Port Orleans Riverside Magnolia Band leisure pool near buildings 90/95 – restroom refurbishment October 25 – November 11.
- Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou guilding 36 – building and room refurbishment.
- Port Orleans Riverside – building 80 parking lot resurfacing September 12–16.
- Port Orleans French Quarter – lodge buildings brick facade corrections through September 30.
- Coronado Springs Resort – El Centro and Casitas – roof repairs through October 14.
- Coronado Springs Resort – El Centro – front desk area wood flooring replacement.
- Caribbean Beach Resort – Barbados Village lodge buildings exterior repair/repainting through September 23.
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – front entrance path of travel and traffic flow changes September 13–30.
- Pop Century Resort – repairs of concrete deck at Hippy Dippy Pool October 4 through September 28, 2012. The pool will remain open during the work, but some small sections of the pool deck will be closed periodically throughout this period.
- Blizzard Beach – closed for annual refurbishment October 30 to December 3.
- Typhoon Lagoon – closed for annual refurbishment December 4 to March 17, 2012.
Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. The show will not be performed:
- September 20-24, 2011
- November 22, 2011
- January 17-21, 2012
- March 20, 2012
- May 15-26, 2012
- July 24, 2012
- September 18-22, 2012
- November 27, 2012
- Cirque du Soleil exterior restrooms – closed September 14–28 for refurbishment.
- Magnolia Golf Course – closed Tuesdays September 6–27 for maintenance (except September 13) for maintenance.
- Palm Golf Course – closed Wednesdays September 7–28 (except September 21) for maintenance.
- Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed Thursdays September 8 – October 6 for maintenance.
- Osprey Ridge Golf Couse – closed Mondays September 12 – October 3 maintenance.
- Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses – closed October 10–23 for Children's Miracle Network Classic.
- Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed October 24 – November 3 for overseeding.
Free dining for October 2011 through Spring 2012
A free dining offer has been released for Walt Disney World for dates through 2012. From now through October 29, guests can book free dining packages for select arrival dates from October 2, 2011, through March 31, 2012.
The 2011 dates run from October 2 through December 17, with breaks for Columbus Day week, PGA Tournament week, Veteran's Day week/Jersey week, Thanksgiving week, and Pop Warner week. Available arrival dates are:
- October 1 to 6
- October 22 to November 3
- November 12 to 17
- November 26 to December 1
- December 10 to 15
2012 dates run from January 8 through March 31 (the end of Disney's second fiscal quarter), with blockouts for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday week, and several popular spring break weeks. Available arrival dates are:
- January 8 to 12
- January 21 to February 2
- February 11 to 16
- March 3 to 8
- March 24 to 29
- August 19 to September 29 (Canada residents only)
Package eligibility is based on arrival date and is valid for the length of the reservation, so if you arrive on the last day before a blackout period and stay through a blackout week, you'll still have the free dining package for the length of your stay. Conversely, if you arrive on a Saturday that is the last day of the blackout, you will need to make a one-night reservation and then book the free dining package starting on your second day, during the availability period.
Guests staying at value resorts will get the Quick Service Dining Plan for free, and guests at moderate or deluxe resorts will get the standard Disney Dining Plan for free. As with all packages, park tickets must be part of the package. Packages are available for a minimum of 3 nights and a maximum of 14 nights.
No group rates or other discounts apply. The offer excludes suites, campsites and 3-bedroom villas. Advance reservations are required. The free dining plan excludes gratuities and alcoholic beverages. Children ages 3–9 must order from children’s menu if available. Some table service restaurants may already have limited or no availability.
You can book through October 29 while availability lasts, but reservations may go fast. The discount codes for the package are D3X for Value resorts and J4J for Moderates and above.
Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-1880, or your travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.
Passholder discounts released for late summer/early fall
Walt Disney World has announced a set of passholder discounts for stays from mid-August through the start of October. The discounts provide 20 to 35 percent off for stays most nights from August 14 to October 1. As with the summer deal, 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, but be aware that rooms may go fast, as the number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Suites and three-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) 939-7643, or your travel agent and using booking code Y3H. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.
Passholder discounts released through year-end
Walt Disney World has announced a set of passholder discounts for stays from the start of October through the end of 2011. The
discounts provide 30 to 40 percent off for stays most nights from October 3 through December 24, with a Thanksgiving blackout period of November 23-25. Passholders will save 40 percent at Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts and 20 percent at Moderate and Value resorts.
Passholders must book by September 4. Be aware that rooms may go fast, as the number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Suites and three-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) 939-5696, or your travel agent and using booking code W4K. 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 bicoastal 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 website.
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 September 30, 2012.
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.