Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for November 28 – December 4, 2011

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News and Views

Disney kills National Harbor resort project | Chita Rivera fills final Candlelight slot | Will your yard go Disney? | Jim Korkis tells stories about storytellers | Dayton runs away with Old Spice Classic | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Disney kills National Harbor resort project

The Walt Disney Company has canceled plans to build a mixed resort development at National Harbor in Prince George's County, Maryland, according to a report in the Washington Post. The 500-room resort—expected to be a combination of Disney Vacation Club lodging and standard hotel rooms—was announced in May 2009, when Disney purchased the real estate overlooking the Potomac River for $11 million.

The Post reported that Disney backed out due to other projects currently in process, including Shanghai Disney Resort and the Avatar-themed land in preparation for Disney's Animal Kingdom. "Given the full slate of expansion currently underway at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, the timing isn’t right to proceed with another new project of this scale," Disney spokeswoman Kristin Nolt Wingard told the newspaper in a statement Friday.

This is another in a series of highly public announcements from Jay Rasulo's tenure as Parks & Resorts Chairman that have been scrapped or reimagined. The New Fantasyland development was redesigned to reduce the profile of princesses and fairies and to provide more entertainment aimed at the whole family. The closure of Downtown Disney Pleasure Island to provide guests with "more shopping and dining experiences" still has not borne fruit (the first plan to reimagine the area, Hyperion Wharf—which took over two years to announce after the closing—has been put on hold).

The Peterson Cos., the owner of the development, is reportedly planning to repurchase the land and work it back into the area's development plan.

Chita Rivera fills final Candlelight slot

The final spot as narrator for the Candlelight Processional at Epcot has been filled, as Chita Rivera returns to the podium December 16-18. The traditional telling of the Christmas story with a mass choir and 50-piece live orchestra runs through December 30 at the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot three times nightly, at 5:00, 6:45 and 8:00 p.m. Here is the latest list of this year's narrators.

  • November 25 to 27 – Mira Sorvino
  • November 28 to December 1 – Michael W. Smith
  • December 2 to 3 – Geena Davis
  • December 4 to 6 – Edward James Olmos (6:45 p.m. & 8:15 p.m. shows only)
  • December 7 to 9 – Isabella Rossellini
  • December 10 to 12 – Neil Patrick Harris
  • December 13 to 15 – Lorraine Bracco
  • December 16 to 18 – Chita Rivera
  • December 19 to 21 – Trace Adkins
  • December 22 to 24 – Susan Lucci
  • December 25 to 27 – Blair Underwood
  • December 28 to 30 – Marlee Matlin

There will be no public performance of the Candlelight Processional at 5:00 on December 4, as that is the annual Community Day presentation for local dignitaries.

Will your yard go Disney?

The HGTV series My Yard Goes Disney has transformed the backyards of lucky recipients in a Disney dream makeover. If you live in the Orlando area, you can apply to have your yard redone as part of the show's second season.

Jay TV is looking for families in search of a Disneyfied backyard. Check out the casting call and then fill out the application. The application must include a picture of your family and a wide picture of your backyard. You can also optionally submit a YouTube video as well. Applications are due by January 30, 2012. The show plans 11 makeovers for the season.

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.

Jim Korkis tells stories about storytellers

With the beginning of Holidays Around the World at Epcot last Friday, the Holiday Storytellers are now out entertaining guests around World Showcase. MousePlanet's Jim Korkis has recorded a video for the Disney Parks Blog about the storytellers, their craft, and their costumes. Check it out:

Dayton runs away with Old Spice Classic

Congratulations to the University of Dayton Flyers, who beat the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers in a score of 86 to 70 in the championship game of the sixth annual Old Spice Classic college basketball tournament at Walt Disney World's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. After being down by as much as 11 points with just over 8 minutes left in the first half, Dayton tied it up two minutes later, and went ahead for good with just less than five minutes left in the half. The Flyers never looked back, leading by 9 points at halftime and going on to win by 16.

Third through eighth place were taken by Indiana State, Fairfield, DePaul, Arizona State, Wake Forest, and Texas Tech.

The teams for the 2012 Classic have been announced. Next year, the competitors will be Vanderbilt, Gonzaga, Clemson, Davidson, Marist, Oklahoma, UTEP, and West Virginia. The tournament will again take place over Thanksgiving weekend—November 22, 23, and 25—at the HP Field House at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. Marist is the representative of the sponsoring Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). Gonzaga won the tournament in 2008.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Pirates of the Caribbean – electrical.
  • Monorail Barn first floor mechanical room – mechanical.
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort "cast marshalling yard" – rejuvenation.
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort Cabanas parking lot – rejuvenation and restriping.

Quick takes …

…The new projection show on Cinderella Castle, The Magic, The Memories, and You, has captured the imagination of many. Disney Parks Online has now provided a way to create your own personalized version for the show utilizing your Facebook photos. The Facebook application will ask to post on behalf of you, but it will still work if you don't allow it to. Check it out and enjoy.

…Not going to be at the parks over the holidays but want to get a park-related gift for someone? Check out the Disney Parks Holiday Showcase Guide (high resolution | low resolution). The 54-page guide includes a variety of gifts, including items themed to each pavilion around World Showcase.

…Today at the Disney Parks Store Online, you can save big for Cyber Monday. Discounts include 10 percent off $50 or more, 15 percent off $75 or more, 20 percent off $100 or more, and 25% off plus free shipping on $125 or more. There will also be special surprise savings around the site. Don't forget to text SHOP to 37275 for holiday offers throughout the season.

…The Reedy Creek Improvement District, Walt Disney World's governmental body, received approval from the South Florida Water Management District last week for a permit to allow a revised water management plan that would allow roadway construction near Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Pop Century Resort. The permit includes drainage changes that would allow widening of eastbound Buena Vista Drive from the Studios' parking lot exit to Victory Way. A dedicated right-turn lane would allow an easy flow of cars to a new extra right-hand lane on Victory Way southbound. Additional work would be done on the opposite side of the intersection, in front of the "Dalmatian" fire house. You can check out the details of the permit by going to the SFWMD website and searching for Application # 111003-15, Permit # 48-00714-P.

…The 2012 version of the Expedition Everest Challenge (a 5-kilometer [3.1 mile] event that also involves an obstacle course and scavenger hunt) 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 69 percent full and Kids' Races are 65 percent full.

…Registration is open for events for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012 (on the weekend of January 5 to 8, 2012), but events are starting to fill up. If you were considering entering one of these, now's the time. As of this week, registration is at:

  • Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge – 94 percent full
  • Marathon – 93 percent full
  • Marathon Relay – 81 percent full
  • Half Marathon – 94 percent full
  • Family Fiesta 5K – 90 percent full
  • Kids' Races – 86 percent full (All Kids Dashes on Friday, January 6 are sold out. Mickey Mile registration is still open for Friday, as are all dashes on Saturday, January 7)

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."

Expect lighter crowds this week, as the throngs of Thanksgiving crowds subside! 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, November 28, 2011 5 / 10
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 3 / 10
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 3 / 10
Thursday, December 1, 2011 5 / 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 Osborne Lights to draw dense crowds to the Streets of America in Disney's Hollywood Studios at night.
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parties are this week; remember to account for the Magic Kingdom's 7 pm closings on party nights when you're planning your itinerary!
  • Following a Touring Plan is important during the heavy portions of the Christmas season!

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


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Coming up

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Mickey's Toontown Fair – closed permanently to make way for Fantasyland expansion.
  • Main Street Fire House – closed; reopens as headquarters for the new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game in early 2012.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed for refurbishment January 9 to April 30, 2012.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – closed for refurbishment and moving to Storybook Circus January 9 to 31, 2012.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment through January 31, 2012.


  • No known closures.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Fantasmic – is not performed January 9 to February 12, 2012.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known closures.


  • Grand Floridian Spa – closed through mid-2013 for refurbishment.
  • 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 through December 3 for annual refurbishment.
  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed December 4 to March 17, 2012 for annual refurbishment.


  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. The show will not be performed:
    • January 17 to 21, 2012
    • March 20, 2012
    • May 15 to 26, 2012
    • July 24, 2012
    • September 18 to 22, 2012
    • November 27, 2012

Current Discounts & Promotions

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 to 31, 2011; April 1 to 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 twelve Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased, activated and/or used by any Eligible Service Member or spouse during the life of this promotion, and no Eligible Service Member or spouse may purchase, activate and/or use more than six Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets during any single week of the promotion. One of the Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets purchased on each occasion must be for use by the Eligible Service Member or spouse. This offer is for active or retired members of the U.S. military, including the National Guard, Reservists and the U.S. Coast Guard. 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, visit the Walt Disney World website, 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 spectromen

    Thanks for the update, as always.
    Also as always, Disney embarasses themselves with poor/lack of proofreading skills on pg. 53 of the Holiday PDF with "Glass SUPPER Pillow". LOL

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