Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update for April 23 – 29, 2012
Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions | Comments
Orange Bird flies home | Projections for Christmas Party dates, change to final Halloween Party date | A Personal Appeal, Year Seven: Last Week! | Epcot's VISION House opens | Disney Cruise Line to automatically add gratuities to bill| Disney Parks Blog issues special bonus code for Animal Kingdom Explorers game | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update
The Orange Bird has landed back in Adventureland.
From the Magic Kingdom's opening in 1971 through approximately 1981, Tropical Serenade (the original name for Walt Disney World's Tiki Room) was sponsored by the Florida Citrus Growers, as was the Sunshine Tree Terrace restaurant. The mascot for the group was the Orange Bird, which was designed by Disney and used in several advertising campaigns at the time. He had a theme song ("The Orange Bird Song") written by the Sherman Brothers, appeared as a walk-around character, and graced a variety of commemorative merchandise. The Orange Bird disappeared from the parks in 1981, and the Florida Citrus Growers let their sponsorship lapse in 1986.
The character started his comeback last fall, when Orange Bird-inspired merchandise was released as part of "The Florida Project" merchandise event in celebration of Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary. The warm reception that the merchandise received led to Walt Disney Imagineering bringing back the character to the place where it all began, the Sunshine Tree Terrace (this time without the Florida Citrus Growers connection). The return was announced at a special "tweetup" (a gathering of Twitter users) hosted by Disney's official D23 fan club last Tuesday morning.
There is plenty of new Orange Bird merchandise on the shelves already—including T-shirts, a novelty drink cup, pins, a print—with more on the way, with an Orange Bird ear hat available this summer. In fact, there's even an original Orange Bird statue from the 1970s that was brought back from Imagineering offices in California to be displayed behind the counter at the Sunshine Tree Terrace.
Along with the Orange Bird, an original treat from the Sunshine Tree Terrace has returned. The Citrus Swirl, a soft-serve vanilla ice cream and frozen orange juice twist, is also back. The frozen concoction—which returned about a month ago—is available in either a cone or a cup for $3.19. A similar version has been available at Magic Kingdom park's Aloha Isle using orange-flavored soft-serve instead of frozen orange juice, but it lacks the tartness of the original, which some consider much more refreshing.
Long lines of park guests were grabbing drinks in an Orange Bird sippy cup throughout the weekend. In the background is the original Orange Bird that greeted guests back in 1971 when the park opened. It has been newly refurbished. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Walt Disney World's November operating calendar has been released, and it appears that the final night of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party is one night later than expected. The final Halloween Party of 2012 will take place on Friday night, November 2, instead of Thursday night, November 1.
We also have the projected November dates for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and have used them to further project the dates for December. The November dates appear to be November 9, 12, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, and 30. Based on the apparent Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday schedule (as opposed to last year's Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday schedule), we are projecting December's dates to be December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, and 21.
The final dates will be released when tickets go on sale, which should take place within the next couple of weeks.
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 April 29, I will spend my birthday 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.
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. My dollar-for-dollar donation matching offer raised over $1,100 in qualifying donations, resulting in over $2,200 for the March of Dimes!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to help us keep our listings updated.
The VISION House opened yesterday at Epcot's Innoventions. The date was chosen to coincide with Earth Day, as the focus of the house is that the smart home features many green technologies to save energy and decrease the impact on the environment.
The exhibit, which replaces the former House of Innoventions, displays such technologies as smartphone-controlled security and climate control, smog-eating roof tiles, whole-home automation, high-efficiency air conditioning, water-conserving fixtures, and other technologies that park guests can implement in their own homes. The exhibit was designed in conjunction with Green Builder Media and features technologies from Ingersoll Rand, Nexia, Schlage, Trane, and Kohler, among others.
Park guests take a guided tour led by a cast member, utilizing a mobile device to activate various displays. To extend the experience back into the home, Green Builder Median has created a special website for the VISION House.
Casey Jr. has come to town. He is pulling the giraffe and elephant cars behind him. The camel car is currently across from him. Note that each car is numbered. The camel car is labeled 98 for the year that Disney's Animal Kingdom opened. The giraffe car is number 89 for the opening of the Disney-MGM Studios. In the foreground are circus wheels. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
This is the backside of the elephant car, which is number 71 for the opening of the Magic Kingdom. Across the way is the clown car, which is likely numbered 82 for the opening of Epcot. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Look carefully and you will see monkeys and giraffe heads to be added to the train cars. Also present are likely clown props for their car. Casey's cow catcher is still missing. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
This week we learned that Disney Cruise Line is rolling out a mandatory pre-payment policy for onboard gratuities. Dining room servers, assistant servers and head servers, as well as stateroom hosts / hostesses (housekeeping), earn the majority of their wages from tips. Until this week, Disney offered passengers the opportunity to pre-pay the suggested gratuity (about $12 per day per passenger) before they boarded. Passengers who opted not to pre-pay their gratuities could do so once onboard, but this practice resulted in long lines near the end of every cruise.
Now Disney has announced they will automatically add the suggested gratuity to the shipboard accounts of passengers who have not pre-paid their gratuities by the time they check in for their cruise. The policy is already in place on the Disney Magic, and rolled out to the Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder this weekend. Disney has not yet determined when the policy will go into effect on the Disney Dream.
Passengers who wish to increase or decrease the amount of tip, or who wish to change the form of payment (paying cash instead of by credit card) can still do so at guest relations after they board.
This change helps reduce the frequently long lines at guest services, and also eliminates the chance that a passenger might "forget" to arrange gratuities for their service team, both benefiting Disney and their crew. However, some passengers object to being forced to pay the nominally-discretionary gratuity before ever boarding the ship, and question whether the service on Disney's ships will be impacted by the change. Will servers and stateroom hosts go that extra mile if they know that their tip is already on the books, or will pre-paid tips result in the same decrease in service often experienced at character dining restaurants and other locations where an automatic gratuity is applied?
Thanks to Mary Kraemer with MousePlanet sponsor MouseEarVacations.com for the heads up on this latest DCL policy change.
Players of Disney's theme park-inspired Facebook game Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers can get a special bonus code from the Disney Parks Blog. The blog posted the code last Wednesday in honor of the release of the Disneynature movie Chimpanzee. As a reminder, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund will donate 20 cents to the Jane Goodall Institute for every install and tutorial completion by players referred to the game through a special website through April 26.
Let us know what you think of the game.
The following is a listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
- Magic Kingdom Newsstand – construction.
- Magic Kingdom Guest Relations – construction.
- Magic Kingdom Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin – roofing.
- Magic Kingdom castle hub gazebo – crepe myrtle light replacement.
- Magic Kingdom Liberty Square Riverboat landing – electrical.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom – Wild Africa Trek sign panel.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris – queue modifications.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Primeval Whirl – queue modifications.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom It's Tough to Be a Bug – queue modifications.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Dinosaur – queue modifications.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Discovery Island – replacement of pump at Safari Village P4 location.
- Transportation & Ticket Center monorail station – general construction.
- Blizzard Beach Lottawatta Lodge – general construction.
- AMC 24 Downtown Disney Theatre Complex – electrical.
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa Mizner's Lounge – contractors general conditions.
- Disney's Contemporary Resort main kitchen – plumbing.
- Disney's Yacht Club Resort – contractors general conditions for roadway and gate rehab.
- Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – plumbing.
- Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and Beach Club Villas – mechanical.
- Disney's Beach Club Villas – plumbing for ice machine replacements.
- Disney's Fort Wilderness Tri-Circle D Ranch draft horse barn – carpentry.
- Disney's Pop Century Resort Everything Pop Food Court – electrival.
- Disney's Art of Animation Resort buildings 4 & 5 – construction.
- Lake Buena Vista Team Disney – signage installation.
When eating lunch at a counter service restaurant at the parks, don't be surprised to receive a coupon giving you 20% off merchandise at the major stores at the parks if you shop prior to noon. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
…The closure of Test Track for "reimagining," previously announced to run through mid-September, has quietly been extended. The Walt Disney World website now lists the closure as running through November 30, the last day currently on the calendar. This extension is reminiscent of the update of Spaceship Earth in 2007, which was originally announced to be returning before the park's 25th anniversary celebration on October 1, but did not reopen until December. In this case, the closure was originally scheduled to end before the park's 30th anniversary celebration, and now will be delayed well beyond that date.
…Did you know that you can learn to surf at Walt Disney World? Craig Carroll's Cocoa Beach Surf School runs a two-and-a-half hour class on select mornings prior to the opening of Typhoon Lagoon. The park's 2.75-million-gallon wave pool is actually capable of producing 6-foot surfing waves. The program is available to those ages 8 and older, and costs $150 per person. You can make your reservations by calling 407-WDW-PLAY (407-939-7529).
…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. Registration will open Tuesday, July 10 at 12:00 p.m. EDT.
…Registration for the May 5 the Expedition Everest Challenge is now full for both the team and individual divisions. The Kids' Races are 73 percent full.
…Registration for the September 28–29 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend is now full. There is a waitlist in case additional spots become available..
…Registration for the November 9-10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is now open.
…Registration for the January 10-13, 2013, Disney Marathon Weekend is now open.
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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- Through May 20: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
- 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 Disney's Art of Animation Resort opens.
- June 18: Cars wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort opens.
- August 10: The Lion King wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort opens.
- September 7-8: Night of Joy.
- September 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, 30, October 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, November 1. Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
- September 15: The Little Mermaid wing of Disney's 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.
- November 9–10: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
- November 22, 23, 25: Old Spice Classic.
- December 13: Disney Vacation Club Condominium Association annual meeting.
- January 10–13, 2013: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.
- February 22-24, 2013: Disney's Princess Half Marathon.
- Storybook Circus – is now open on the former site of Mickey's Toontown.
- Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment through May 20.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed for refurbishment through May 27.
- Snow White's Scary Adventures – closes permanently on May 31 for conversion to Princess Fairy Tale Hall.
- Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin – closed for refurbishment June 27-29.
- House of Innoventions – closed through May for conversion to "green home."
- Tutto Italia – closed through April 27.
- Test Track – closed through November 30 for "reimagining."
- 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.
- Wilderness Lodge – metal roof seams recoated thorough June 29.
- Beach Club Resort – Cape May Cafe closed for refurbishment July 9 through August 3.
- Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – a portion of the Stormalong Bay pool and the Shipwreck Slide closed for refurbishment April 9 through April 23. Guests that wish to use a pool slide as part of their resort pool experience can use the Luna Park pool at the BoardWalk Resort.
- Yacht Club Resort Yachtsman Steakhouse – closed for refurbishment August 27 through September 15.
- 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.
- 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.
- Old Key West Resort – South Point leisure pool closed April 23-24. All other pools at the resort will remain open.
- Fort Wilderness Campground & Resort Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue – closed for refurbishment August 5 through December 31.
- 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.
- Coronado Springs Resort – Ranchos buildings experiences tile roof repair and replacement through July 27.
- 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.
- No current closures.
- Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed May 7-17 for refurbishment.
- Magnolia Golf Course – closed May 14-23 for refurbishment.
- Palm Golf Course – closed May 29 through June 8 for refurbishment.
- Oak Trail Golf Course – closed May 29 through September 28 for refurbishment.
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
Discounted rooms and packages released for summer
Two new discounts have been released for this summer, one for room and ticket packages and one for room-only reservations. Both discounts are available for stays most nights from June 15 through August 14 and must be booked by June 14.
Discounts on package stays are available for a minimum stay of three nights and a minimum Magic Your Way base ticket of two days. These rates are available for June 15 through August 4 at Value and Moderate Resorts and July 15 and August 14 at Deluxe and Deluxe Villas Resorts. This discount does not include Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
Room-only discounts are available for June 15 through August 4 (Value Resorts) or August 14 (Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas Resorts). Discounts are 15 percent at Value Resorts, 20 percent at Moderate Resorts, and 25 percent at Deluxe and Deluxe Villas Resorts. This discount does not include suites and 3 bedroom Grand Villas.
No other discounts or group rates apply. The number of discounted rooms at these rates are limited, and additional minimum stay lengths may apply for weekend arrivals.
Both packages use discount code C8Q.
For the discounted packages, you can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-4990 or your favorite travel agent.
For the room-only discounts, you can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-1920 or your favorite travel agent.
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.
Free dining offers for late August through late September
Walt Disney World is offering free dining with packages for Disney Visa card members and the general public. The offer is valid for stays most nights from August 25 through September 29, 2012. As with the most recent offers, guests staying at Value resorts receive a free Quick Service Dining Plan, while guests staying in Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa accommodations receive the standard Disney Dining Plan. Guests can upgrade their dining plan for the usual difference in price between each dining plan.
The offer is only available for packages including room, tickets, and dining, and all members of the party much purchase the same package and tickets. Minimum length of stay is three nights with two-day base tickets; maximum stay on the package is 14 days. Some blackout dates apply.
Suites and campsites are not included in this offer, and you must book by May 18 to get this offer.
For the general-availability packages, you can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-7414 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code B7H (for Value resorts) or SS5 (for Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa Resorts).
Disney Visa card members can make reservations through the Disney Visa Rewards website or by calling (407) 939-1881 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code L69 (for Value resorts) or B7I (for Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa Resorts).
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).
Tables in Wonderland members can save on tickets to La Nouba
Tables in Wonderland members can purchase discounted Category 2 tickets La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil on performances Tuesday through Saturday nights, from April 17 to May 11. Prices for members and up to 3 guests are $66.75 plus tax for adults and $54.00 plus tax for children. To purchase tickets, call 407-WDW-SEAT (407-939-7328). Note that a valid Tables in Wonderland ID and advance purchase is required. Tickets 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.