Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for March 19 – 25, 2012

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

News and Views

Storybook Circus soft-opens | "Oh, there you are, Perry": Agent P to replace Kim Possible at Epcot this summer | A Personal Appeal, Year Seven: Take Mark's March of Dimes Challenge! | Free WiFi now available at all Value resorts; mini-fridge rollout in progress | Water play area coming to Grand Floridian | Shareholders hear about Marvel characters, Avatar, "Heroes Work Here" | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Storybook Circus soft-opens

The first part of the New Fantasyland expansion is now open to the public, as a portion of Storybook Circus began a soft-opening (dress rehearsal) phase just before 11 a.m. last Monday, March 12. This is not surprising, as the official Walt Disney World website has listed the Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction as being closed through March 11 since mid-January. The entirety of Storybook Circus is not yet open, however, as the wet play area themed to Casey Jr. and the merchandise, snack, and character meeting locations are still under wraps.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant has one of its two spinners open. The new (clockwise) spinner looks wonderful, with a water feature inside and below the elephants, and the top of the spinner's hub decorated with storks and images of Mrs. Jumbo's face. The colors are vibrant, and the attraction now has a soundtrack with a circus feel to it. The interactive queue is not yet open. The original Dumbo spinner from behind Cinderella Castle is now back in the shop for refurbishment to the new design and color scheme, and will join its sister spinner later this year.

The Barnstormer featuring Goofy as The Great Goofini (an even longer name than The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wise Acre Farm) is a complete retheming of the small roller coaster. Goofy is now the circus' daredevil, serving as human (dog?) cannonball, "bear wrassler," and stunt water skier. His cannon and targets are placed throughout the area. In fact, several of the targets are placed horizontally to provide shade over the queue. The planes' route still flies through several obstacles, in theme with Goofy's questionable piloting skills. The coaster is easily visible from Dumbo.

The redesigned, brightly-colored Dumbo the Flying Elephant attraction is now taking flight in Storybook Circus. Photo © Disney.

A water feature below brings even more kinetic attraction to the Dumbo attraction. Photo © Disney.

The Barnstormer "crashes" through a control tower adjacent to the relocated Dumbo attraction. Photo © Disney.

Goofy appears to have had some difficulty in flying past this sign. Photo © Disney.

The Walt Disney World Railroad's new Fantasyland Station is also open, with a beautiful new design reminiscent of Walt Disney's Carolwood Pacific barn that now resides at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. The station area also includes a wonderful restroom facility.

The area's official opening is reportedly scheduled for this Wednesday, March 21. The area will be opening late that day to allow the opening ceremony to take place after park opening. We'll have more in-depth coverage in next week's Update.

"Oh, there you are, Perry": Agent P to replace Kim Possible at Epcot this summer

The rumor that we reported in January and again in Feburary has now been officially announced. The Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure is closing this summer to be replaced with "Disney Phineas & Ferb: Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure." As with the Kim Possible game, guests will be deputized as agents to stop evil plots. Rather than different Kim Possible villains in each pavilion, all Agent P missions will involve his nemesis, Dr. Doofenshmirtz. The evil doctor will apparently create a different "-inator" device in each World Showcase pavilion.

Agent P will be replacing Kim Possible in Epcot's interactive World Showcase game this summer. Image © Disney.

As with Kim Possible, the game takes place in seven of the 11 pavilions: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Japan, France, and United Kingdom, with participants issued a "high-tech secret agent device" for the game. No word on whether it will continue to be a modified Verizon cell phone or a new device. The semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action begins his adventure this summer.

A Personal Appeal, Year Seven: Take Mark's March of Dimes Challenge!

There is nothing more heartbreaking than a baby who is born too soon having medical complications that leave them with medical difficulties for life, or worse, that never let them leave the hospital alive. On May 15, I will once again be walking to raise money for the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

I will be spending my birthday this year walking to raise money for the March of Dimes. MousePlanet readers and MouseStation listeners have helped me to raise over $20,000 for the worthy charity over the last six years. This year, my goal is to raise another $5,000. This month, I am issuing a special challenge: I will match, dollar-for-dollar, every donation that comes in by March 31 from any MouseStation listener or MousePlanet reader. If it's in by March 31, I'll match it.

You can also walk with me, either in person or virtually, by joining Team MousePlanet and getting your friends and family to contribute! You can go to my fundraising page to sponsor me, or the Team MousePlanet page to join in and walk yourself! Help us to provide a better chance to prevent prematurity and to help those babies that are born prematurely!

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.

Free WiFi now available at all Value resorts; mini-fridge rollout in progress

Disney's All-Star Sports, All-Star Music, and All-Star Movies Resorts have all now begun rolling out free WiFi access to guests, joining Pop Century, which recently began offering it. Hard-wired Internet connectivity is still available at a fee of $9.95 per day. The WiFi is not as fast as the hardwired jacks, so if you're not happy with your connection speed, you may want to pay the daily charge (DVC members staying at a DVC resort on points continue to get the hardwired Internet connectivity for free).

Installation of mini-fridges in Value resort guest rooms is also under way. Previously only available at Value resorts upon request at a $10 per day fee, the small chiller will allow guests to more easily keep their beverages cool in their room. This will also benefit those traveling with medications that must be kept refrigerated. The installation in all resorts is expected to be complete in the next few weeks.

It is expected that, when the Art of Animation Resort opens on May 31, all rooms will have mini-fridges installed and free WiFi will be available.

Water play area coming to Grand Floridian

Disney has filed plans with the South Florida Water Management District for a revised water management plan around a new water play area at the Grand Floridian Resort. The new water activity pool will help to expand capacity for the new Disney Vacation Club expansion at the resort. According to the plans, the new pool will be built in the space between the existing Beach Pool, the resort's main building, and the Summerhouse. The water activity pool's sub-basin is planned to be just over a quarter-acre, or roughly one-sixth of the sub-basin for the Beach Pool.

There's no information yet on a construction timeline, though it's pretty certain that it will be open by the time that the T-shaped Villas building opens.

Take a look at how Imagineers are making the Be Our Guest Restaurant (opening later this year) appear to be on a mountaintop.

Shareholders hear about Marvel characters, Avatar, "Heroes Work Here"

At the annual meeting of the Walt Disney Company last Tuesday, President and CEO Bob Iger mentioned that at some point in the future Marvel characters will appear in attractions or lands or in some form, like Disney characters, in "a few places around the world." That may or may not mean Walt Disney World, as Universal Islands of Adventure still has a contract for the use of many of those characters in a theme park setting in Central Florida. Since there are only preliminary designs thus far, any use is still some time away, so anything could happen in that time.

During the meeting, Iger also indicated that the Avatar-themed land for Disney's Animal Kingdom is still moving forward. He recently sat in on a pitch meeting for various ideas on what to build, and said that nothing would be opening until the 2015 time frame.

In other news from the shareholder meeting, the company announced a new program called "Heroes Work Here," which both honors veterans currently working at the company and also commits to provide at least 1,000 jobs and career opportunities for returning U.S. veterans over the next three years. It will also provide support for military families and veterans as they return to civilian life, and will launch a national public awareness campaign to encourage all employers to hire returning veterans. The program is in conjunction with the "Joining Forces" initiative co-sponsored by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.

See the first of the "Heroes Work Here" commercials.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Transportation & Ticket Center Monorail – electrical work.
  • Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Crystal Arts – signage package.
  • Magic Kingdom Liberty Belle dock – paint.
  • Magic Kingdom – DBO Show Control Hardware.
  • Epcot Land pavilion Seasons kitchen – upgrade air conditioning control system and test and balance air conditioning system.
  • Epcot Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion aquatic quarantine heat exchanger – mechanical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Fantasmic Lagoon – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Backlot Express – electrical.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Studio Catering Company – electrical.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant – electrical.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios left block building – electrical.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Mama Melrose Restaurant – electrical.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – pond improvement restoration.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom elephant life support compound – construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Dinosaur – electrical.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Animal Programs Administration – HVAC modifications.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Conservation Station – ultra-light aircraft package.
  • Downtown Disney West Side building 1 – electrical.
  • AMC Theaters Downtown Disney 24 – removal of millwork and no bearing partitions, add new millwork, equipment and finishes.
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex The Milk House – electrical.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort main tower, South Garden Wing, Bay Lake Tower – LED lighting installation electrical.
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort plumbing work area – electrical.
  • Disney's Beach Club Resort – plumbing.
  • Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – mechanical.
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge – doors.
  • Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge – doors.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort DVC Sales Building – logo removal.
  • Hilton Orlando WDW Resort (Downtown Disney Resort Area Hotel) – chiller replacement.

Quick takes …

…Disney Photopass PhotoCD prices will rise from $149.95 to $169.95 on Wednesday, March 21. The pre-purchase price will also increase, from $99.95, but we do not currently have information on what the new price will be.

…Mr. & Mrs. Easter Bunny have begun their annual meet-and-greets in Tour Guide Gardens next to City Hall in the Magic Kingdom.

…Dooney & Bourke aficionados will be pleased to hear that the Disney Cruise Line will be coming out with two new exclusive collections. The first one will be released on the maiden voyage of the Disney Fantasy on March 31, featuring the name logos of all four ships of the Disney Cruise Line. The collection will become available aboard the other ships over the summer. The second collection will debut aboard the Hawaiian itineraries later this year, and will also make their way to the other ships later this summer. That collection will feature blue and white nautical stripes and the DCL logo. [Editor's note: If history is any indication, passengers interested in these ladies' purses should expect to queue up very early to get their hands on these before they quickly sell out.]

…The MousePlanet Newsletter is here! The newsletter contains a recap of the week's articles (in case you miss a day), news that may have developed since the weekly Updates were published, and tips about what's happening at the Disney theme parks for the coming weekend. We'll also include a fun MouseAdventure bonus, such as an Eye Spy or a trivia question. To subscribe to our free newsletter, go to the MousePlanet main page and enter your email address in the top right box labeled "Join the MousePlanet Newsletter." Click Join, then fill out the fields in the registration page, including your first and last name. The Newsletter is free, but you must complete this registration to receive it, even if you may have signed up for one with us in the past.

…The 2013 Princess Half Marathon weekend takes place February 22-24, 2013. No word yet on a registration opening date for the race.

…Registration for the January 10-13, 2013, Disney Marathon weekend opens April 10 at 12 noon Eastern Time.

…Registration for the September 28–29 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend and November 9-10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is now open..

…Registration for the May 5 the Expedition Everest Challenge is now full for both the team and individual divisions. The Kids' Races are 53 percent full. If you're interested in running it, you may want to register now to avoid being closed out.

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."

Walt Disney World is still in the midst of Spring Break season this week. 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
Tuesday, March 20, 2012 10 / 10
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 9 / 10
Thursday, March 22, 2012 9 / 10
Friday, March 23, 2012 9 / 10

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!

  • Avoid Disney's Hollywood Studios on Tuesday and Thursday.
  • Avoid Magic Kingdom on Monday and Saturday.
  • Following a Touring Plan is important when crowd levels spike at the park you're visiting!

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

  • Storybook Circus – is now open on the former site of Mickey's Toontown.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment through May 20.
  • Plaza Ice Cream Parlor – closed for refurbishment through March 27.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed for refurbishment through May 27.


  • House of Innoventions – closed through May for conversion to "green home."
  • Tutto Italia – closed through April 27.
  • Test Track – closed April through September.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show – closed for refurbishment April 29 to May 2.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known current closures.


  • Grand Floridian Spa – closed through mid-2013 for refurbishment.
  • Contemporary Resort – main tower balcony wall panel refinished through March 30.
  • Polynesian Resort – Great Ceremonial House atrium ceiling steel refinished and skylight fabric replaced February 27 to March 23.
  • Wilderness Lodge – metal roof seams recoated thorough June 29.
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House Bus Stop lane repaved through to March 21.
  • Beach Club Resort – Cape May Cafe closed for refurbishment July 9 through August 3.
  • Yacht Club Resort – building exterior repaired and refinished through August 3.
  • Yacht Club Resort – rooftop HVAC hot water piping replaced January 9 to September 28.
  • Boardwalk Inn – leisure pool closed March 19-22. The Luna Park feature pool and Villas leisure pool remain open.
  • Boardwalk Resort – roadway rejuvenation from the main entrance road to the bus stop area and through the Conference Center exit area through March 21.
  • Old Key West Resort – bus and picnic shelters undergo wood truss repair and repainting thorugh 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 through April 24.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort – the Carriage House lobby repainted through April 16.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – the main commercial building has its flat roof replaced through March 30.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – building 3 parking lot undergoes rejuvenation through April 27.
  • Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – lobby/atrium refurbishment in commercial building April 9 through May 25..
  • Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – Alligator Bayou leisure pool near buildings 36 & 39 closed March 19-22. 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 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.
  • 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.

Water Parks

  • No current closures.


  • 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

Current Discounts & Promotions

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 room discounts available through June

A Passholder discount is available for most dates March 9 through June 14. The nights of April 1 to 14 and May 25 to 31 are not available due to peak travel periods of Easter break and Memorial Day week.

Passholders can book this discount through the day of arrival if rooms are still available. As with all discounts, rooms available at these rates is limited, and 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 Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-1876 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code RX2. 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.



  1. By houseofmouse

    Just thought I would mention. You were always able to get a mini fridge for free in the Value resorts if you were needing it for medical reasons or dietary reasons. You just needed to call ahead and let them know. We did this twice because my son is allergic to milk and it was not an issue. They didn't even need to see the doc note I brought with me. Will be nice though for them to all have them now for no charge.

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