Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for October 24 – 30, 2011

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

News and Views

2012-2013 Disney Cruises now available for booking | James Cameron visits Disney's Animal Kingdom as Avatar planning gets under way | Join us for the Big Bad Voodoo Food-Do To-Do meet-up | Disney Parks offers $1,000 Shopping Card | Disney tests parade Fastpasses | Donald wins Disney golf tournament | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

2012-2013 Disney Cruises now available for booking

You can now book most cruises for 2012 and 2013 aboard the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy cruise ships online. The Dream sails 3-, 4- and 5-night Bahamian cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida, with stops at Nassau and Castaway Cay.

The Fantasy sails Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Port Canaveral, starting with its maiden voyage on March 31, 2012. Western Caribbean itineraries include two sea days and stops at Grand Cayman, Mexico (Costa Maya and Cozumel), and Castaway Cay. Some Eastern Caribbean voyages feature stops at St. Maarten and St. Thomas, with excursions to St. John and Castaway Cay, in addition to three days at sea. Other Eastern Caribbean itineraries feature a stop at San Juan, Puerto Rico, instead of St. Maarten.

For more information or to book, go to the Disney Cruise Line website or contact your favorite travel agent. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations for the information.

James Cameron visits Disney's Animal Kingdom as Avatar planning gets under way

Planning for the Avatar-themed land to be built at Disney's Animal Kingdom is under way and in its early stages,with director James Cameron touring the theme park last week with his producing partner Jon Landau, Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs, and Imagineer Joe Rohde.

James Cameron, Joe Rohde, and Tom Staggs walk through Disney's Animal Kingdom exploring ideas for Avatar theming. Photo © Disney.

As the creative guardian for the park, Rohde is likely to be leading the team that creates the new land. Cameron and Landau are creative consultants on the project.

Cameron, Rohde, and Staggs view wildlife from the Wild Africa Trek pathway. Photo © Disney.

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 Parks offers $1,000 Shopping Card

Disney Parks is now offering a special $1,000 Disney Parks Shopping Card (normal gift cards have a maximum value of $500). Purchasers of this special card will also receive a deluxe (24" high x 20" wide) framed castle pin set that features "as many as 60 authentic Disney Pins that have been framed and double matted to create a whimsical image of Cinderella Castle." The pin set is only available as part of this package.

The Disney Parks Shopping Card is only available in a $1,000 denomination. Image © Disney.

The Disney Parks Shopping Card and Deluxe Framed Castle Pin Set Product can be purchased online at DisneyWorld.com, Disneyland.com, ArtofDisneyParks.com, Vinylmation.com, and PinTrading.com. The Disney Parks Shopping Card and Framed Castle Pin Set Product can also be purchased through Disney Reservation Center at 407-WDW-DISNEY (407-939-3476) and select Disney-approved Travel Agents.

You can only use the Disney Parks Shopping Card at Disney Parks & Resorts and Disney Vacation Club properties, and not for online purchases.

The Deluxe Framed Castle Pin Set is only available with the purchase of the $1,000 Disney Parks Shopping Card. Image © Disney.

Before you say, "Ooh, I'm going to spend that much during my trip—let's get it!", here's something to consider: you can use the card only for merchandise, not food, services, hotel rooms, Disney Dollars, gift cards, or tickets, nor can you use it at third-party owned locations such as the Mitsukoshi store at Epcot's Japan pavilion. Not only that, but you cannot use the Disney Parks Shopping Card in conjunction with any discounts you might normally qualify for when purchasing Disney theme park merchandise, including but not limited to Passholder Merchandise discount, Cast Member discount, and AAA discount. Also, any remaining value may not be redeemed for cash at the end of your stay.

In addition, shipping and handling charges apply beyond the $1,000 cost for the set.

On the other hand, if you're planning to spend $1,000 or more on merchandise and you aren't eligible for any discounts, it's a great deal to get the pin set for free. You can get more information and buy the card online.

Disney tests parade Fastpasses

This week, the Magic Kingdom begins a one-month test of Fastpass tickets for a restricted-access viewing area for the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade. There's no word yet on how the passes will be distributed yet. However, this appears to be another aspect of the Next Generation Initiative, where guests will eventually be able to schedule their entire trip in advance, from attractions to meals to character visits to parade viewing. What do you think about this? Let us know if the comments thread at the bottom of this column!

Disney has posted a video about Walt Disney's love of steam trains, featuring long-time MousePlanet columnist Jim Korkis. The video was featured last week on the Disney Parks Blog and Facebook page.

Donald wins Disney golf tournament

Luke Donald rode a run of six consecutive birdies to come from 13th place and win the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic golf tournament at Walt Disney World yesterday. In doing so, he also won the PGA Tour money title for 2011. Donald's eight-under-par final round of 64, including a total of 10 birdies and two bogies, brought him the tourney's top prize of $846,000, enough to beat out Webb Simpson for the money title. Simpson finished in a five-way tie for sixth place, but still could have won the money title if Donald had finished second.

Donald is in the unique position of having won the PGA Tour money title and also having a large lead in the European Tour money title as the Race to Dubai approaches in just 7 weeks.

Meanwhile, the Disney tourney was also the last stop on the $1 Million Kodak Challenge, which was won by Bill Lunde. Lunde won the multi-tourney title when closest challengers Fabian Gomez and Cameron Tringale failed to eagle the 17th hole.

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 Street U.S.A. – MO-8 power installations, tunnel and park levels.
  • Magic Kingdom Main Street U.S.A. MO-2 – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Main Street U.S.A. Newstand – general construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Main Street U.S.A. bridge to hub – concrete & metal repair.
  • Magic Kingdom Peter Pan's Flight – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Seven Dwarfs Mine – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Monorail – construction.
  • Transportation & Ticket Center – electrical.
  • Epcot Innoventions – The Great Piggy Bank Adventure.
  • Epcot Mission: Space merchandise shop – door replacment.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris – scissor gate replacements.
  • Blizzard Beach – construction.
  • Polynesian Resort – plumbing and electrical.
  • Boardwalk Resort – construction.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort – rope replacements near Colonel's Cotton Mill.

Quick takes …

…Epcot remains open until 10 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday nights throught the end of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival on November 13. Illuminations will be presented at 10 p.m. on those nights.

…Walt Disney World is testing out a new text-messaging program to provide guests with tips and updates during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Signs around the park tell guests to text TREAT to DPARK (37275) to get text updates. You can text STOP to cancel the alert (standard text messaging rates apply).

…Members of the MousePad discussion forums are discussing some intriguing rumors about the future of the Polynesian Resort posted on Steve Seifert's usually reliable Tikiman website. Join the discussion.

…Disney guest Wi-Fi is also available at the Winter Summerland miniature golf course. Thanks to MousePlanet reader Todd Perlmutter for the info.

…New Pirates of the Caribbean-themed Disney Dollars are now available for sale, in $1 denomination only.

…Downtown Disney is promoting this month's seasonal decor, entertainment, merchandise, and dining options as "WonderFall."

…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 53 percent full and Kids' Races are 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 – 79 percent full
  • Marathon Relay – 65 percent full
  • Half Marathon – 84 percent full
  • Family Fiesta 5K – 64 percent full
  • Kids' Races – 61 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 24, 2011 4 / 10
Tuesday, October 25, 2011 2 / 10
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 5 / 10
Thursday, October 27, 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!

  • Expect World Showcase to have dense crowds over the weekend for Food & Wine Festival.
  • 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.


Join our networks



The MouseStation Podcast


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; reopens as headquarters for the new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game in early 2012.
  • Swiss Family Treehouse – closed for refurbishment through 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 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 through mid-2013 for refurbishment.
  • Wilderness Lodge – villas walkway – cedar shake roof repairs through November 8.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Magnolia Band leisure pool near buildings 90/95 – restroom refurbishment through 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 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
  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed October 24 through 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 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:

  • Now to November 3
  • November 12 to 17
  • November 26 to December 1
  • December 10 to 15

Dates for 2012 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 jpg391

    Great WDW update!

  2. By DisneyGator

    Parade Fastpass? I don't know that I like the idea of that at all. As if it's not hard enough to score a good spot for the parade, now I'll have to compete with a fastpass section. They're making WDW way to complicated for the average visitor - shoot, it's getting too complicated for me.

  3. By davidgra

    As someone who has visited WDW two or three times a year for more than the past decade (and as a DVC member), I know I'd be able to schedule an entire trip in advance. That doesn't mean I'd WANT to. In many ways, it seems such a system would punish newcomers and those who prefer to be more spontaneous, creating longer "stand-by" waiting times and restricting viewing space for more and more attractions and shows.

  4. Discuss this article on MousePad.