Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for October 17 – 23, 2011

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

News and Views

Disney expands credit card guarantee requirements for dining reservations | Free wi-fi added at higher-end resorts | Join us for the Big Bad Voodoo Food-Do To-Do meet-up | Disney Cruise Line recategorizes 120 staterooms on new ships | Disney Fantasy's AquaLab revealed | The Benefit Sale returns to provide discounts, benefit charity | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Disney expands credit card guarantee requirements for dining reservations

Effective October 26, Walt Disney World will require a credit card guarantee for reservations at any "Signature Dining" and most character dining locations. Failure to cancel an unused reservatiron 24 hours in advance will result in a fee of $10 per person being charged to your credit card. To help guests cancel reservations, Disney has set up a new phone number just for cancellations, 407-WDW-CNCL (407-939-2625).

This change appears to be in response to guests making multiple reservations for the same time period and not cancelling the one(s) that they're not using. It should clear the unused tables for use by other diners.

The new guarantee will be in place for:

  • 1900 Park Fare
  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
  • Artist Point
  • California Grill
  • Cape May Café
  • Chef Mickey’s
  • Cítricos
  • The Crystal Palace
  • Flying Fish Café
  • The Garden Grill
  • The Hollywood Brown Derby
  • Hollywood & Vine
  • Jiko – The Cooking Place
  • Le Cellier Steakhouse
  • Narcoossee’s
  • ‘Ohana
  • Tusker House Restaurant
  • Victoria & Albert’s ($25 per person)
  • Yachtsman Steakhouse

If the party size changes, there is no fee. Disney largely wants to eliminate tables going empty and people getting turned away because Disney was holding the table for someone who was never coming. There's no word yet on whether there's a process for handling legitimate reasons for last-minute cancellations.

Free Wi-Fi added at higher-end resorts

Walt Disney World has added free wireless in-room Internet access at deluxe, deluxe villa, and convention resorts.

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn Resort
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

There's no official word on it, but other moderate and value resorts may get Internet access at a later date.

Join us for the Big Bad Voodoo Food-Do To-Do meet-up

Meet Walt Disney World Resort Update editor Mark Goldhaber and other MousePlanet readers and MouseStation podcast listeners on Sunday, November 13, from 4 p.m. through park closing for the Big Bad Voodoo Food-Do To-Do. The meet will kick off at the World Showcase side of the Odyssey Restaurant bridge, and Mark will provide location updates during the event via Twitter (@MPMark) and Facebook in case you want to join later on.

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! Time is short!

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. Registration closes this Thursday, October 21!

Disney Cruise Line recategorizes 120 staterooms on new ships

Disney Cruise Line has re-categorized some staterooms on the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. Effective October 18, a total of 120 staterooms will be categorized into five new categories:

  • 4E – Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah - Oversized Verandah
  • 5E – Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah - Oversized Verandah, some with solid white wall
  • 7A – Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Navigator Verandah, Undersized or Obstructed Verandah
  • 9C – Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom, One Porthole, Obstructed View
  • 9D – Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom, One Porthole, Obstructed View - limited view of ocean

Disney has helpfully provided a list of staterooms affected by this change:

Deck 5
Stateroom Number
Previous Category
New Category
5024 & 5524
5026 - 5052
5150 - 5164
5526 - 5552
5650 - 5664
5180 & 5680
5188 & 5688


Deck 6
Stateroom Number
Previous Category
New Category
6000 - 6006
6500 - 6504
6178 & 6678
6190 & 6690


Deck 7
Stateroom Number
Previous Category
New Category
7000 - 7004
7006 & 7504
7500 - 7502
7022 & 7520
7170 & 7668
7182 & 7680
7190 - 7194
7688 - 7690


Deck 8
Stateroom Number
Previous Category
New Category
8000 - 8004
8006 & 8504
8500 - 8502
8022 & 8520
8164 & 8662
8176 & 8674
8184 - 8188
8682 - 8684


Deck 9
Stateroom Number
Previous Category
New Category
9012 & 9512
9152 & 9652
9164 & 9664
9170 - 9176
9670 - 9674


Deck 10
Stateroom Number
Previous Category
New Category
10158 - 10166
10658 - 10664

Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations for helping to put all of this together.

Disney Fantasy's AquaLab revealed

Disney Cruise Line has released some information and concept art for AquaLab, the new water play area aboard the Disney Fantasy. Located on deck 12 near the AquaDuck water coaster's entrance, AquaLab's back story has it created by Donald Duck's nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie to control the water flowing through the area. The various activities will drench families playing in the area. From a leaky wall to pipes squirting to pop jets, geysers, bubblers and more, there's plenty to do. The boys have left "hand-painted notes" to explain how to "control" the speed and temperature of AquaDuck from three stations.

AquaLab squirts water all over the play area on board the DIsney Fantasy. Image © Disney.

The AquaLab's back story says that Huey, Dewey, and Louie designed the water "experiments." Image © Disney.

Three "control stations" purportedly control the water flowing through the AquaDuck water coaster. Image © Disney.

Also new aboard the Fantasy is a wading pool with a fountain at deck 12 forward, with plenty of seating nearby and a shade canopy.

A wading pool with seating and shade is a new family area at deck 12 forward. Image © Disney.

For adults, a new Satellite Sun Deck on deck 13 forward includes a circular splash pool called Satellite Falls, which includes benches and a rain curtain. This also has plenty of seating and a shade canopy.

Satellite Falls is a new adult area located at deck 13 forward. Image © Disney.

The Disney Fantasy is scheduled to set sail in March 2012.

The Benefit Sale returns to provide discounts, benefit charity

For the second year, a special discount sale will be taking place at Downtown Disney early in the morning of Saturday, November 5, from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. The Benefit Sale is a special way to get big bargains on Disney theme park merchandise while helping out the local community. In order to participate in the sale, you must purchase a Benefit Sale Voucher from the Heart of Florida United Way or a participating local partner agency.

If your voucher is purchased from a partner agency, $4 will go to the agency and $1 will go to the United Way. If you purchase directly from the United Way, they will receive the entire $5. Vouchers are required for all shoppers age 13 and over.

On the morning of the sale, you will exchange the voucher for a The Benefit Sale Wristband, which will then let you enter participating stores during the sale. You'll find discounts of up to 50-75 percent on select items, special doorbuster items, surprise markdowns and more. Participating locations include World of Disney, Once Upon A Toy, Tren-D, Team Mickey, Disney Days of Christmas, Mickey's Pantry, Disney Pin Traders, Marketplace Fun Finds, and more.

The special website for the sale will be updated on Friday to list many of the special deals that will be available. A link will also be added to the site to allow you to purchase your voucher directly from the United Way.

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 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 main entrance – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom wardrobe building – construction.
  • Epcot Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion – construction.
  • Epcot installation of wall-mounted restroom blade signs.
  • Epcot The Land pavilion – installation of auto clave at the Bio Lab, plus electrical and plumbing.
  • Epcot The Land pavilion Sunshine Seasons Food Court – electrical and telecomm.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show – electrical.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios MuppetVision 4D theater – electrical.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom main entrance – construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Pangani Forest Exploration Trail suspension bridge – construction.
  • Transportation & Ticketr Center – construction.
  • Blizzard Beach pump house – roofing.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort main lobby – electrical.
  • BoardWalk Resort lobby – electrical.
  • Old Key West Resort lobby – electrical.
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge The Mara – electrical and telecomm.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – construction.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort all Alligator Bayou buildings and Magnolia Bend buildings 90 & 95 – mechanical.
  • Coronado Springs Resort main lobby – electrical.
  • Pop Century Resort Everything Pop food court – electrical and telecomm.

Quick takes …

…A new, interactive character from the world of Toy Story was on display for two days at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The "playtest" of Cubot went well from what we hear. Cubot is modeled after a playground spinning blocks toy. Appearing to be somewhat like three vertically stacked blocks, Cubot has a different character painted on each side (cowboy, princess, robot, astronaut), and the three blocks spin independently, letting guests mix and match character heads, bodies, and legs. The little animatronic rolls around and speaks in the same way as PUSH. Cubot was tested in the Animation Courtyard last Tuesday and Wednesday, and (based on a successful playtest) will be heading to Hong Kong Disneyland's Toy Story Land soon.

…Disney Vacation Club has completed the recalculation of dues figures for Aulani, and is now seeking permission from each state to resume sales to the citizens of that state. The new presales estimated cost for annual dues is $5.73 per point, as opposed to the previous $4.31 per point. All those who bought their ownership interest in Aulani before the change will get a permanent offset for the additional 33 percent assessment.

…Aulani is offering a special grand opening deal for those who can visit in the next three months. For stays most nights from November 27 to December 16, 2011; January 4-12, 2012; and January 16-25, 2012, when you buy a four-night stay, you get the fifth night free. Hurry, though, as the number of rooms allocated for this offer is limited. The offer excludes resort fees and taxes, and it not valid in combination with any other discounts or offers. Suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas are excluded. Other restrictions apply. visit the Aulani website, call Disney reservations at 866-411-3883, or contact your favorite travel agency and mention offer code Y5J.

…This year's Disney Vacation Club Condominium Associations will have their annual meeting at the Contemporary Resort on December 8, starting at 2 p.m. All DVC members are welcome to attend the free event.

…The 2012 version of the Expedition Everest Challenge takes place on May 5, 2012. No registration date has yet been announced.

…Registration is open for events for the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon (scheduled for the weekend of February 24 to 26, 2012). The Princess Half Marathon is 51 percent full.

…Registration is open for events for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012 (on the weekend of January 5 to 8, 2012). As of this week, registration is at:

  • Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge – 91 percent full
  • Marathon – 75 percent full
  • Marathon Relay – 56 percent full
  • Half Marathon – 76 percent full
  • Family Fiesta 5K – 61 percent full
  • Kids' Races – 57 percent full

Crowd update


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."

Food & Wine Festival is now in full swing, and it will affect the number of people visiting Epcot, but not necessarily wait times. TouringPlans.com can help you avoid falling into the typical tourist pitfalls, and will help you avoid the dreaded tour groups, with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines - Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. Now more than ever, it's a good time to subscribe to TouringPlans.com to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!

Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.

Date Overall
Monday, October 17, 2011 3 / 10
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 1 / 10
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 4 / 10
Thursday, October 20, 2011 2 / 10

Crowds will be moderate this entire week. Check out the Disney World Park Crowd Levels page on TouringPlans.com for park-specific predictions and recommendations on which days to visit and avoid particular parks!

  • Epcot is our Park to Avoid Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
  • More Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties this week; remember to account for the Magic Kingdom's 7 pm closings on party nights when you're planning your itinerary!
  • Magic Kingdom is one of the Best Parks Friday and Sunday.

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.
  • 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.
  • Swiss Family Treehouse – closed for refurbishment September 8 to November 17.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed for refurbishment January 9 to March 31, 2012.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – closed for refurbishment and moving to Storybook Circus January 9 to February 17, 2012.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment January 28 to February 3, 2012.


  • 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.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Fantasmic – is not performed January 5 through February 12, 2012.

Animal Kingdom

  • Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment.


  • Grand Floridian Spa – closed from September 19 – mid-2013 for refurbishment.
  • Wilderness Lodge – villas walkway – cedar shake roof repairs September 12 through November 8.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Magnolia Band leisure pool near buildings 90/95 – restroom refurbishment October 10 – November 11.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou building 36 – building and room refurbishment October 25 through November 11.
  • 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.

Water Parks

  • 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:
    • November 22, 2011
    • January 17-21, 2012
    • March 20, 2012
    • May 15-26, 2012
    • July 24, 2012
    • September 18-22, 2012
    • November 27, 2012
  • 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.

Current Discounts & Promotions

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 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 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 (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

New fall discount announced

A new room-only discount for fall 2011 has been released. These discounts are available for travel most nights from October 30 through December 23 (except for Thanksgiving week):

  • 15 percent at All-Star Movies Resort and Port Orleans French Quarter Resort
  • 20 percent at other value and moderate resorts, as well as Fort Wilderness Cabins
  • 25 percent at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian Resort
  • 30 percent at other deluxe resorts, and deluxe villas resorts

You must book this discount by November 19. The rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-1917 or your favorite travel agent, and mentioning discount code J5N.

MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com, Small World Vacations, and Get Away Today.

Room-only discount for January and February

A room-only discount was released for early next year. The discounts are available for travel from January 2 through February 20, 2012. Guests receive discount rates of:

  • 25 percent at value resorts except All-Star Movies Resort, which is 20 percent
  • 30 percent at moderate resorts except Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, which is 25 percent
  • 35 percent at deluxe and deluxe villa except Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian Resorts, which are 30 percent

You must book this discount by December 21. The rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.

You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-1917 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code UU7. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

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, 2012, 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. Blackout dates are December 26-31, 2011; April 1-12, 2012; and July 4, 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.



  1. By sbmmickey

    Wi-Fi is great news! I have always hated to be tethered to the desk or bed because of the tiny cord they provide. And free is better as well! It's really about time they did this.

  2. By jpg391

    Another great WDW update!

  3. By 3colliers

    We stayed @ the Poly back in June and they had free Wi-Fi out by the pool and in the lobby @ that time. It was a PLUS for our 12 year old!!! Glad to hear it is in the rooms now.....love the Poly, we r going back next summer!!

  4. By davidgra

    We've been after the DVC to get free WiFi into the guest rooms for several years now. We were pleasantly surprised to have WiFi in the DVC wing of the Grand Californian when it first opened, and we assumed they would be putting it in the DVC properties in Florida, but the DVC folks kept telling us it wasn't going to happen. I guess they finally listened. As we don't bring laptops with us when we travel (we stick to our iPads), we can't use ethernet connections, so we'd have to bring our own wireless router to create a WiFi network for our villa.

    I'm kind of glad about the credit card reservations for Signature Dining restaurants -- as long as it makes it easier to get a reservation. We've found that we can't get a reservation at Le Cellier unless we call EXACTLY 180 days out, which is a pain. I imagine, though, it's going to create some pretty serious complaints from people who miss a reservation because of a delay in Disney transportation or being stuck in a ride that has shut down. We've missed reservations for both those reasons, even though we allowed plenty of time.

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