Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update for February 14 – 19, 2012
Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions
First Lady Michelle Obama visits ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World | New kids' meal choices coming to Magic Kingdom | Goodbye Little Red, hello zebras | Disney takes possession of its newest ship | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update
Just weeks after her husband's policy speech on Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom, First Lady Michelle Obama appeared at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World on Saturday. Mrs. Obama's appearance was in conjunction with the second anniversary of her "Let's Move" campaign to inspire children and families to lead healthier and active lifestyles. Disney has tied into that campaign with the Disney Magic of Healthy Living program.
The event included hundreds of kids from Central Florida, who participated in physical fitness activities and learned a new dance, "The Platypus Walk" (themed to Disney's "Phineas and Ferb") to perform for the First Lady. The event got started with the singing of the national anthem and the reciting of Pledge of Allegiance. Florida Senator Bill Nelson then took the stage, welcomed the crowd, then performed 50 military push-ups to show how seriously he takes fitness.
Emcee Ernie D from Radio Disney then welcomed fitness guru Tony Horton to the stage. Horton led the hundreds of children in a series of high-energy exercises. Ernie D returned to the stage to welcome stars from Disney Channel and Disney XD programs and Rosero McCoy, the choreographer from the Disney Channel's Shake It Up TV show.
McCoy then taught the approximately 800 kids the Platypus Walk, assisted by Disney Channel stars Debby Ryan, Roshon Fegan, Doc Shaw, Kelsey Chow, and Olivia Holt. After a couple of run-throughs, the group was joined onstage by the "Agent P" Perry the Platypus character for one last rehearsal.
Ernie D then welcomed the First Lady, dressed in a sweatsuit, to the stage. Mrs. Obama then briefly addressed the crowd about the Let's Move program. McCoy led everyone in performing the dance, with Mrs. Obama joining in on stage.
The children then split into groups around the field, each group doing a different fitness activity. Mrs. Obama worked her way around to each group, participating with some. She appeared to really enjoy the modified tennis game and had to be encouraged by her entourage to move on to the next group. After visiting with each group, the First Lady left the field and headed back to Washington, D.C.
Like the President's visit last month, Mrs. Obama did not bring their daughters Sasha and Malia with her on her visit to Walt Disney World, perhaps proving that Disney Parks & Resorts are not just for kids.
For more information on the Let's Move campaign, go to the campaign's website.
As part of the Disney Magic of Healthy Living program, Walt Disney World has been increasing its focus on healthy eating choices over the last few years, replacing french fries with fruit, and soda with water or milk in kids' meals, improving nutrition in entrees, and increasing the amount of fruit and other healthy snack options, among other changes. A new round of choices for children is being rolled out tomorrow at Magic Kingdom table-service restaurants, as more "non-burger" options join the menus.
Tony's Town Square Restaurant is adding a steak skewer "spiedini" with roasted sweet potato fries and fresh fruit, as well as grilled cheese on multigrain bread "dippers" with tomato sauce. The Plaza Restaurant will feature grilled chicken slices, cous cous and a fresh fruit skewer. Meanwhile, Cinderella's Royal Table gets three dishes: a chicken drumette with rice and broccolini, chicken pot pie with a biscuit crust, and grilled beef skewers with mashed potatoes and corn. Liberty Tree Tavern gets two new kids' choices of its own, with a barbecued chicken and pineapple flatbread pizza with a side of crisp veggies and apples, and oven-roasted turkey with mashed potatoes, veggies, and fruit.
If your child is not a fan of burgers, they'll probably be happy with these new healthy options.
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 email@example.com to help us keep our listings updated.
Little Red, the Animatronic elephant orphaned by poachers and then rescued at the end of the Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom, doesn't have much time left himself. Imagineers will be removing the scene from the attraction starting this spring, then replacing it with a new savanna and watering hole hosting zebras and other animals.
This isn't the first story change for the attraction. Following the unexpected response of horrified test audiences just before the attraction opened to the public, Imagineers removed a large set piece featuring a dead Big Red (Little Red's mother) with her tusks cut off by poachers, and replaced it with additional narration from Warden Wilson and Miss Jobson over the driver's radio indicating that "Big Red is down!" Later, Miss Jobson herself was cut from the storyline and Warden Wilson became the only voice heard on the radio.
With the removal of Little Red, the attraction will no longer have any non-living animals on display. Reportedly, however, the attraction will continue to have a conservation-focused theme. Meanwhile, guests who had been asking for more animals, specifically more chances to see zebras, will get their wish. There is no word yet on whether Warden Wilson continues to be part of the attraction once the "poacher" plotline is removed, but the changes will remove the lesser of the two plotlines for the safari. The "we've got to save Little Red!" plotline frequently seemed to be incongruous to the "wow, look at all the amazing animals!" angle. Little Red's departure will probably also mean fewer guests being confused by the sudden jerky acceleration at the end of the attraction, and will also mean less wear and tear on the safari jeep vehicles.
Construction is expected to be complete by this fall. The attraction is expected to remain open during the work.
Last Thursday, the Disney Cruise Line took possession of the Disney Fantasy. In a traditional maritime delivery ceremony, the flag of the Meyer Werft shipyard was lowered and the Disney Cruise Line flag was raised over the ship. The ceremony included Bernard Meyer, managing partner of Meyer Werft; Karl Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line, Meyer Werft Captain Wolfgang Thos, and Disney Captain Tom Forberg. "Captain Tom" has now been the inaugural captain for all four ships of the Disney Cruise Line, and will take the ship from Bremerhaven, Germany, to its home port at Port Canaveral, Florida.
The ship is currently undergoing final preparations and will leave Germany on Thursday, February 16. It will arrive in New York City on February 28 for christening festivities, culminating the evening of March 1 for the actual christening ceremony. It will leave New York City the next day and head for Port Canaveral, arriving on March 6. After some shakedown test voyages, the ship will host travel agents and the media for two cruises, then depart on its official Maiden Voyage on March 31. MousePlanet will begin its detailed coverage of the Disney Fantasy in late March.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
- Magic Kingdom Space Mountain – construction.
- Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain – mechanical.
- Epcot – construction.
- Epcot Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion &ndas; elevator sill replacement.
- Epcot Odyssey Restaurant – mechanical for fire panel upgrade.
- Epcot Morocco pavilion – cast elevator upgrade.
- Epcot Morocco pavilion – mechanical.
- Epcot Mexico pavilion – cast elevator upgrade.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Fantasmic Light – construction.
- Transportation & Ticket Center monorail platform & entrance gate upgrades.
- Walt Disney World Speedway – 3,600 square foot open metal roof pavilion for Richard Petty Driving Experience.
- Grand Floridian Expansion Project – STOLport Complex trailer expansion.
- Yacht & Beach Clubs quiet pool – mechanical.
- Port Orleans Riverside food court – carpentry.
…Our friends at TouringPlans.com are reporting that the Magic Kingdom monorails were running at reduced capacity yesterday due to beam damage between the Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom stations. We'll see if we can find out more on this issue.
…New merchandise for this year's Disney Princess Half Marathon weekend will include a shirt featuring a running shoe on a pillow and a light-up tiara with the same logo. There will also be a selection of Dooney & Bourke bags. All merchandise will be available for purchase at the Disney's Fit for a Princess Expo during the event weekend.
…This year's Star Wars Weekends logo features Donald Duck as Darth Maul in honor of the re-release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 3D. The logo will be available on many forms of merchandise, including posters (standard and lenticular), mugs, and photo frames. Star Wars Weekends is scheduled to run Friday through Sundays, May 18 to June 10.
…Walt Disney World has reached an agreement on a new contract with Local 389 of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). The contract provides for pay raises for each of the next six years and bonus pay of up to $750. The contract runs through June 2018.
…As is sometimes the case when Florida weather really cools off, Blizzard Beach was closed on Sunday due to cold weather. Sunday's weather had high temperatures in the 50s, so it's likely that not many would have been swimming anyway.
…For the fourth consecutive year, the seven Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotels are partnering with Walt Disney World to honor teachers in their A+ For Teachers at Downtown Disney contest. The essay contest, which runs through April 13, has students in grades 1-12 nominate their favorite teacher by writing an essay of no more than 300 words and submitting it via a form on the hotel association's website. The essays should explain how the teacher has made a difference in the student's life. Seven winning teachers and their nominating students will each win a five-day, four-night vacation at one of the participating hotels, tickets to Walt Disney World theme parks and DisneyQuest, breakfasts at the hotel, and a gas card. For more information, check out the hotel association's website
…Registration for the May 5 the Expedition Everest Challenge is now open.
…Registration for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler opens today, on February 14.
…Will registration sell out before the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon (the weekend of February 24 to 26)? Registration has been slowing, but just a few slots are left. The Princess Half Marathon is 98 percent full and the Royal Famly 5K is 97 percent full. The Royal Family Kids' Races and the Pasta in the Park Party are sold out.
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."
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- February 16–20: Twirl Mania 2012.
- February 24–26: Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend.
- March 7 to May 20: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
- March 10–11: UCA/UDA International All Star Championship (Cheer/Dance).
- March 31: Disney Fantasy Maiden Voyage.
- April 27–29: Cheerleading and Dance Worlds.
- May 5: Expedition Everest Challenge.
- May 18 to June 10: Fridays through Sundays: Star Wars Weekends.
- May 31: Finding Nemo wing of Art of Animation Resort opens.
- July 31: Cars wing of Art of Animation Resort opens.
- September 28–29: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend.
- September 28 to November 11: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
- September 30: The Lion King wing of Art of Animation Resort opens.
- November 9–10: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
- November 22, 23, 25: Old Spice Classic.
- December 31: The Little Mermaid wing of Art of Animation Resort opens.
- January 10–13, 2013: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.
- Mickey's Toontown Fair – closed permanently to make way for Fantasyland expansion.
- Peter Pan's Flight – remains open while work takes place on a new interactive queue through March 6.
- Plaza Ice Cream Parlor – closed for refurbishment through March 27.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed for refurbishment through May 27.
- Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment through May 20.
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant – closed for refurbishment; will reopen at Storybook Circus March 11.
- Magic Carpets of Aladdin – closed for refurbishment February 26 to March 10.
- House of Innoventions – closed through May for conversion to "green home."
- Tutto Italia – closed through April 30.
- Test Track – closed April through September.
- Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment February 13 to March 9.
- Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – closed for refurbishment February 13 to March 9.
- Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show – closed for refurbishment April 29 to May 2.
- No known current closures.
- Grand Floridian Spa – closed through mid-2013 for refurbishment.
- Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – pool side at Beach Pool closed February 6 athrough March 2. The pool remains open.
- Contemporary Resort – main tower balcony wall panel refinished through March 30.
- Contemporary Resort – pool slide at feature pool closed through February 17. The pool remains open.
- Polynesian Resort – rockwork clear coat applied at Nanea Volcano Pool through February 21.
- Polynesian Resort – Great Ceremonial House atrium ceiling steel refinished and skylight fabric replaced February 27 to March 23.
- Wilderness Lodge – Teton Boat and Bike Rental marina dock deck boards replaced January 30 to February 17.
- Wilderness Lodge – metal roof seams recoated from January 30 to June 29.
- Wilderness Lodge – exterior decorative timbers repaired and replaced from February 13 to March 12.
- Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House Bus Stop lane repaved from February 22 to March 21.
- Yacht Club Resort – building exterior repaired and refinished through August 3.
- Yacht Club Convention Center – lobby refurbished through March 2.
- Yacht Club Resort – rooftop HVAC hot water piping replaced January 9 to September 28.
- Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – painting of rockwork at Stormalong Bay Pool touched up January 9 to February 21.
- Yacht Club Resort – guest room door locks replaced February 2-22. Letters will be placed in the rooms advising guests the door locks will be replaced. Guests need not get new keys, as their existing Key to the World cards will work with the new lock.
- BoardWalk Resort – roadway rejuvenation from the main entrance road to the bus stop area and through the Conference Center exit area from February 22 to March 21.
- Old Key West Resort – lobby and Olivia's buildings undergo metal roof repairs February 23 to May 16.
- Old Key West Resort – bus and picnic shelters undergo wood truss repair and repainting February 9 to March 30.
- Saratoga Springs Resort – villa buildings undergo exterior cleaning and painting one at a time between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through August 30.
- Saratoga Springs Resort – rockwork painting at High Rock Springs Pool from February 9 to April 24.
- Saratoga Springs Resort – the Carriage House lobby repainted from February 21 to April 16.
- Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – the main commercial building has its flat roof replaced through March 30.
- Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – buildings 6 & 7 parking lots undergoes roadway rejuvenation from through March 13.
- Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – building 3 parking lot undergoes rejuvenation February 27 to April 27.
- Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – Alligator Bayou leisure pool near buildings 36 & 39 closed February 27 through March 1. All other leisure pools plus the Ol' Man Island feature pool remain open.
- Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – Alligator Bayou buildings receives exterior repainting two at a time through March 30.
- Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – Magnolia Bend building 90 undergoes building and room refurbishment through February 17, for conversion to Royal Princess Rooms.
- Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – Magnolia Bend building 80 undergoes exterior repair and repainting from February 16 to April 19.
- Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – Magnolia Bend building 95 undergoes building and room refurbishment from February 19 to March 23.
- Coronado Springs Resort – Ranchos buildings experiences tile roof repair and replacement through July 27.
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – pool side at Meadow Feature Pool closed February 6 through March 2. The pool remains open.
- Fort Wilderness Campsites – concrete pad repairs takes place through March 12.
- Fort Wilderness Campsites – repaving takes place on Loop 2100 from through February 21.
- Pop Century Resort – 80s lodge building will have themed walls refinished near the Roger Rabbit icon from through February 17.
- Pop Century Resort – 60s lodge building will have themed walls refinished near the Mowgli & Baloo icons from February 20 to March 30.
- Pop Century Resort – repairs of concrete deck at Hippy Dippy Pool through September 28. The pool remains open during the work, but some small sections of the pool deck will be closed periodically throughout this period.
- All-Star Music Resort – Piano Pool closed February 6 to March 2; Calypso Pool will remain open.
- All-Star Movies Resort – Beverage coolers installed in guest rooms through March 16. The installation takes place one floor at a time between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Guests notified via an in-room flier the day before the work is scheduled to take place.
- Typhoon Lagoon – closed through March 17 for annual refurbishment.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace Basin – closed through mid-March for renovations.
Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. For 2012, the show is not be performed:
- March 20
- May 15–26
- July 24
- September 18–22
- November 27
Florida resident ticket discount
Florida residents can take advantage of a special 3- or 4- day ticket at discounted prices through late May. The "Wild for 3" (and "Wild for 4") tickets are available for purchase through May 21, and are valid for admission any three (or four) days through May 24, excluding blackout dates. The tickets are not valid February 18-20 and April 1-13 due to high crowd levels.
The Wild for 3 Pass ($99 plus tax) and Wild for 4 ($129 plus tax) passes are good at any one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks each day, but without park hopping privileges. Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More options can be added for $27.50 each ($55 for both).
Proof of Florida residency is required for each adult age 18 and older. The discounted price applies to both adults and children.
Passholder discounts available through March
Disney has released a Passholder discount for most nights from through March 8. Discounts are 35 percent for select Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa accommodations, and 30 percent for Value resorts from Sunday through Thursday nights.
As with most Passholder discounts, you can book this discount up through your arrival date, if discounted rooms are not yet sold out by then. The rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length-of-stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. No group rates or other discounts apply. Suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas are not included.
You can make your reservation through the Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7731 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code H5L. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Room-only discounts for February through June
Disney has released a room-only discount for all nights from April 13 through June 14. Discounts vary based on date. However, many resorts are excluded from the discount, including All-Star Movies Resort, Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, Contemporary Resort, Beach Club Villas, Wilderness Lodge Villas, and premium views at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
For stays on the nights of May 25 to 27, guests receive discount rates of:
- 15 percent at Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, standard view rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Fort Wilderness Cabins, Port Orleans Riverside Resort, Pop Century Resort, All-Star Music Resort, and All-Star Sports Resort
- 20 percent at Animal Kingdom Villas, Boardwalk Villas, Caribbean Beach Resort and Coronado Springs Resort
- 25 percent at Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Boardwalk Inn, and Wilderness Lodge
- 30 percent at Saratoga Springs Resort and Old Key West Resort.
For all other nights during the discount period, the discounts are:
- 20 percent at Polynesian Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, standard view rooms at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Fort Wilderness Cabins, Port Orleans Riverside Resort, Pop Century Resort, All-Star Music Resort, and All-Star Sports Resort
- 25 percent at Animal Kingdom Villas, Boardwalk Villas, Caribbean Beach Resort and Coronado Springs Resort
- 30 percent at Saratoga Springs Resort, Old Key West Resort, Yacht and Beach Club Resorts, Boardwalk Inn, and Wilderness Lodge.
You must book this discount by February 28. 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 N6P. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Passholders can save 25% on tickets to La Nouba
Passholders can save 25% on Category 2 tickets La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil on performances Tuesday through Friday nights, from January 31 to March 30. To purchase tickets, (407) 939-7604. Note that a valid Passholder ID and advance purchase is required. Tickets can be purchased up to 30 days prior to the show date, and must be picked up at the La Nouba box office Will Call window.
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 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.