Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for March 26 – April 1, 2012

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

News and Views

Opening of Art of Animation Resort sections moved up | A Personal Appeal, Year Seven: Take Mark's March of Dimes Challenge! | Storybook Circus easily winning fans | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Opening of Art of Animation Resort sections moved up

Construction work is proceeding quickly at Disney's Art of Animation Resort—so quickly, in fact, that the openings of the various phases has been pushed up quite a bit. Back in October, Disney announced the opening dates for the Art of Animation Resort as May 31 through December 31 for the various wings. While the Finding Nemo-themed section will still open on May 31, the entire resort will be open more than three months earlier than predicted.

The Cars-themed section will now open on June 18 instead of July 31, The Lion King-themed suites open August 10 instead of September 30, and The Little Mermaid-themed rooms will be ready on September 15. Guests can start booking these rooms for the earlier dates now. The first three sections will comprise 1,120 family suites, while the Mermaid rooms will contain 864 standard guest rooms.

In anticipation of the resort's opening, the intersection of Victory Way and Buena Vista Drive is being widened and improved, with a dedicated turn lane being added from eastbound Buena Vista Drive to Victory Way southbound. This should help accommodate the added traffic for Art of Animation to the already-heavy load from Pop Century.

The entrance to the Art of Animation Resort from Victory Way is ready for the resort's first phase of opening on May 31. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Work is under way to widen the intersection of Buena Vista Drive and Victory Way to help with traffic flow once the Art of Animation Resort opens at the end of May. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

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!

A scrim covering facade work at Le Chapeau on Main Street even includes images of window dedications (though one window is triplicated on this corner). Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

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.

Storybook Circus easily winning fans

The new Storybook Circus area in the New Fantasyland expansion is now on park maps, and the Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Barnstormer Featuring Goofy as The Great Goofini are open to a happy reception by park guests. The new Carolwood Park railroad station is also delighting fans. Despite a one-hour wait due to locomotive problems last Thursday, guests were still happily standing in the station enjoying the new atmosphere.

The new Dumbo spinner goes clockwise, while the rethemed Barnstormer flies through a tower. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The cap of the hub for the updated Dumbo attraction features images of storks, Mrs. Jumbo's face, peanuts, and a stylized Dumbo logo "D". Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The spigots for Dumbo's new water feature are somewhat evocative of elelphant trunks spraying. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Cast members show off the new ringmaster-themed costumes for Storybook Circus. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Instead of a barn, the Barnstormer now flies through a billboard. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

One of Goofy's other daredevil stunts at the circus is as a Canine Cannonball. Note that the fuse on the cannon appears to be sparking. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

At Storybook Circus, Goofy also performs as the "Restless Rocketeer," with predictable results. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Some of Goofy's cannonball targets are used as queue shade covers. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The new Fantasyland Train Station in Storybook Circus is at Fair Weather Place in Carolwood Park, a nod to Walt Disney's Carolwood Pacific backyard railroad. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

At the Carolwood station house, the restroom building appears to be a converted former roundhouse with bricked-over tracks. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Construction continues on the turntable to go with the roundhouse, which will be a wet play area themed to the Casey Jr. circus train. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

It's easy to see just how close the construction for Prince Eric's Castle in Fantasyland Forest is to construction for Storybook Circus tents. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Fantasyland Expansion – area development package - phase 1 (chateau #1 and tunnel).
  • Magic Kingdom Fantasyland Expansion – area development package - phase 1 (restaurant).
  • Magic Kingdom Fantasyland Expansion – area development package - phase 1 (BV merchandise).
  • Magic Kingdom Fantasyland Expansion – area development package - phase 1 (cottage #1)
  • Magic Kingdom Fantasyland Expansion – area development package - phase 1.
  • Magic Kingdom Fantasyland Expansion – exterior rockwork package - restaurant and cottage.
  • Magic Kingdom Seven Dwarf Mine – installation of facility ride column steel.
  • Magic Kingdom parking lot – canal repairs.
  • Epcot Norway pavilion – construction.
  • Epcot China pavilion – construction.
  • Epcot Germany pavilion – construction.
  • Epcot France pavilion – construction.
  • Epcot Mousegears – construction.
  • Epcot Land pavilion – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios animation building – electrical.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Africa Kilimanjaro Safari ride area – area development.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Africa – construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Asia – construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom baobab tree – construction.
  • Downtown Disney West Side Green – signage.
  • Disney's Old Key West Resort Peninsular Road, South Point, Millers Road, and Old Turtle Pond Road bus stops – general construction.

Quick takes …

…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.

On the other side of Fantasyland, work continues on walkway expansion on the back side of the Yankee Trader shop. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

…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 November 9-10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is now open.

…Registration for the September 28–29 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend is 51 percent sold out.

…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 27, 2012 9 / 10
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 9 / 10
Thursday, March 29, 2012 9 / 10
Friday, March 30, 2012 10 / 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 Monday and Tuesday.
  • Avoid Magic Kingdom on 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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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.
  • Wilderness Lodge – metal roof seams recoated thorough June 29.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.


  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. For 2012, the show is not be performed:
    • 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 danyoung

    I always enjoy your hard work, Mark. But I just wanted to let you know that your Flower & Garden Festival links are taking me to last year's Flower Power concert series instead of this year's lineup. Thanks.

  2. By stan4d_steph

    The dates have been updated for this year.

  3. By danyoung

    Excellent - thanks!

  4. By Mark Goldhaber

    Sorry, Dan. I threw it together quickly in the hours before I left to board the Disney Fantasy, and I must've missed that.

  5. By danyoung

    No biggie - I'm always trying to help!

  6. By Mark Goldhaber

    Why did nobody tell me that I didn't have the links for my March of Dimes campaign in that story? I've added them to this Update, and will extend my dollar-for-dollar matching challenge for a week or so to give people a chance to donate.

  7. Discuss this article on MousePad.