Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update for April 30 – May 6, 2012
Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions | Comments
New Fantasyland opening dates announced | Test Track to get interactive | Thank you! | Art of Animation Resort just about ready for its close-up | Disney Settles Class Action Lawsuit for Visually Impaired | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update
Editor's Note: There was a tremendous amount of information put forth at the Summer to Remember press event last week, and we'll be rolling out all of the details that we couldn't fit into the Update this week in separate articles over the next couple of weeks.
At last Friday's "What's New, What's Next" presentation to media at the Summer to Remember press event, Walt Disney World President and President, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, United States and France, Meg Crofton revealed the opening time frames for the remainder of the New Fantasyland project at the Magic Kingdom park.
This July, the second Dumbo spinner will open, as will the indoor, air-conditioned, interactive queue for the attraction. Also opening in July will be the Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station in Storybook Circus. While not mentioned, the merchandise and character meet-and-greet locations in the area will also probably open in the same time frame.
In time for the holidays this year, the back portion of New Fantasyland will open. Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, Ariel's Grotto, Enchanted Tales with Belle, the Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston's Tavern, and Bonjour Gifts will all become available, though the exact timeline still hasn't been released.
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster, which will dominate the skyline and landscaping for the entire expansion, is expected to go into operation in 2014.
These was no mention of Princess Fairy Tale Hall. We are assuming that the character meet-and-greet location is a lower priority, and therefore more volatile in its completion date due to the ability to pull workers off of the project to work on others that may become critical.
We'll continue to watch this story and let you know about any changes that we're made aware of.
Steel continues to go up for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster. The grey steel is the support structure for the mountain, and the brown steel is the support structure for the track. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Test Track is closed, and is currently stated to be ready to return by November 30. The redesigned attraction will be sponsored by General Motors' Chevrolet brand instead of GM as a whole.
Guests will design their own vehicle to try to meet various criteria, and will then choose some of the tests to be performed. As the car goes through the ride track, would-be car designers will get feedback on how well their vehicle achieved its goals. In the post-show, park guests can then further utilize their car designs to create a TV commercial, race on a virtual track, or take a photo with their creation.
The interactive elements will eventually allow Disney to provide an extension of the attraction to the park guest's home via the Internet, but that part has not been developed yet.
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. Yesterday, I spent 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 $24,000 for the worthy charity over the seven years that I've been walking. This year, you were responsible for over $2,100 of the over $4,000 that we raised, including matching donations. Our walk-site raised an estimated $93,000. Thank you so much for your support!
It's still not too late to donate. You can continue to help this worthy cause by going to my fundraising page to help us to provide a better chance to prevent prematurity and to help those babies that are born prematurely! And join me in walking as a part of Team MousePlanet next year!
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.
The Finding Nemo-themed section of Disney's Art of Animation Resort is nearing completion, and Disney showed it off to the media last week. The building exteriors are finished, as is the feature pool and much of the interior. The resort will open on May 31 with the completion of main commercial building (containing Animation Hall, the Ink & Paint Shop, and the Landscape of Flavors food court), guest resort buildings, and Big Blue feature pool.
One really interesting new feature at the Big Blue Pool is that Dory, Crush, and other characters will be carring on a conversation that you can listen to when your head is under water. The pool is the largest ever built at a Disney resort.
View a time-lapse video of the construction of the Finding Nemo section of the resort provided by Walt Disney Imagineering.
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts and related Disney companies have reached a tentative agreement with a group that brought a class action lawsuit against them. The agreement must be approved by a judge, and must also spend a short while others who may be covered by the settlement class.
The suit was originally brought on May 10, 2010 by a small group of visually impaired people who claimed that Disney was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and California law by treating them discriminatorily as related to accessing the Disneyland theme parks and related online planning tools.
The original complaint was broken down into ten allegation classes, five of which were approved by the court to proceed. The tentative settlement agreement further condenses that to four settlement classes in order to cover all of the complaints in an efficient manner. The remaining settlement classes are: the Website Class, the Effective Communication Class, the Service Animal Class, and the Infrastructure Class.
The Website Class relates to Disney's trip planning websites not being accessible to those utilizing screen readers. The Effective Communication Class claims that Disney has not made the standard trip planning tools, such as maps, menus, schedules, and information about sighted companions, available to those with disabilities.
The Service Animal Class claims an inability to properly kennel their pets when riding attractions that the animals cannot, and that Disney characters actively avoid those with service animals. The Infrastructure Class notes that the plaintiffs are not able to take advantage of special parade viewing areas for the disabled, and do not have easy access to lockers in the park or parking lots at the Disneyland Resort.
The settlement includes a number of actions required of Disney:
For the Website Class – by December 31, 2012, Disney will have converted a majority of their content-related pages on the Walt Disney World website to be accessible to screen readers, including a page with an accessible version of the hours and schedules for the Walt Disney World parks otherwise posted on the site. All Walt Disney World menus currently posted on the site will also be accessible to screen readers.
By July 2013, Walt Disney World tickets, passes, rooms, and packages will be available for purchase by guests using screen readers. Disney will have converted a majority of their content-related pages on the Disneyland website to be accessible to screen readers, including a page with an accessible version of the hours and schedules for the Disneyland parks otherwise posted on the site. All Disneyland menus currently posted on the site will be accessible to screen readers.
By June 2014, Disneyland tickets, passes, rooms, and packages will be available for purchase by guests using screen readers.
By December 31, 2015, Disney Cruise Line passengers will be able to book staterooms, reserve online activities, and book shore excursions using screen readers. In addition, Disney will have converted a majority of their content-related pages on the Disney Cruise Line website to be accessible to screen readers. Certain sections of the websites are excluded. Disney further agrees to provide a telephone service to assist visually impaired guests until the websites are brought into compliance.
The Effective Communications Class settlement requires Disney to make an audio recording available by telephone that provides the schedules for major entertainment offerings (such as Fantasmic and World of Color) at the Disneyland Resort parks, and parade and show information from the current park information sheets (and answer questions about such parades and shows). The telephone number must be included on the "services for guests with visual disabilities" sheet available at the parks for the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts within 90 days.
Those phone services will be included until either the Next Generation Handheld Device is deployed with the information on the schedule information sheet or the applicable portions of the park hours and schedule pages are available in screen-readable format for both Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts.
Disney must provide a telephone service to read information from menus for restaurants whose menus are posted on the park websites. The phone numbers will be added to the services pages on the Disneyland and Walt Disney World sites until either the Next Generation Handheld Device is deployed or the menus are available in a screen-readable format. Disney will also include menu information with the audio description service on the Next Gen handheld device.
Disney will also require cast members at food and beverage locations to read menus to guests on request and provide Braille menus at four restaurants. At least two stationary Braille maps will be provided at all domestic Disney parks, and mobile Braille maps will be available for a refundable deposit. Disney will provide, on a one-time basis, 100 one-day, one-park tickets each for the Disneyland Resort parks and the Walt Disney World parks to no more than two charitable organizations whose primary purpose is to serve individuals with visual impairments for use by companions of visually impaired guests.
The Service Animal Class settlement provides for at least three service animal relief areas in the public areas at each of the domestic Disney parks and add that information to the relevant websites and information sheets. Disney will also provide temporary kennels or cages at attractions which the service animals cannot ride. It will also post a policy that guests can also do a rider swap with another member of their party who would watch the animal until the visually impaired guest returned from their ride.
Disney will also update its operating guidelines for all characters in the parks to ensure that their interaction with guests with service animals take place as if the guests do not have service animals.
The Infrastructure Class settlement states that Disney will update operating guidelines to permit guests with visual impairments to utilize disabled parade viewing areas. Disney will also install five keyed lockers at a single location at both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks for use by guests with visual impairments. Disney must provide an appropriate number of disabled parking spaces at the Pinocchio lot at the Disneyland Resort and make other relevant modifications.
The agreement also requires Disney to pay service payments of up to $15,000 for each named plaintiff for their assistance in resolving the matter, and $1,550,000 in attorney fees.
The next step is for a judge of the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, Western Division, to approve the settlement. Once it is approved, notices will be sent out to all potentially impacted individuals who can opt in or out of the class and support or attempt to block the settlement. Only after it gets past those steps would the settlement go into effect.
For more information, you can read the entire 95-page filing online (PDF).
The following is a listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
- Magic Kingdom Be Our Guest Restaurant – menu shrouds.
- Magic Kingdom Peter Pan – construction.
- Magic Kingdom Pecos Bill – mechanical roof work.
- Epcot Odyssey Bridge – "Agent P" main marquee.
- Epcot Captain EO – queue modifications.
- Epcot Journey Into Imagination With Figment – queue modifications.
- Epcot Mission: Space – queue modifications.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios MuppetVision Theater – queue modifications.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show – queue modifications.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Disney Jr. Live on Stage – queue modifications.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios ABC Sound Studio – electrical.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Restaurantosaurus – removal and replacement of stainless steel accordion damper.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Tree of Life – construction.
- Disney's Grand Floridian Resort convention center – mechanical.
- Disney's Contemporary Resort – general construction.
- Disney's Yacht Club, Beach Club, and Beach Club Villas – electrical.
- Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Outpost – electrical.
- North World Drive – road work.
…The nighttime projection show The Magic, The Memories,& You will be getting an update for the summer, beginning May 25. The show, which features photos of park guests taken during the day in addition to some stock photos, mixed in with a while bunch of special Disney effects. The summer theming, which we already had discussed with Gene Harding on the MouseStation podcast back in December, will feature Phineas and Ferb, The Lion King, and The Little Mermaid, among other themes.
…A group of anti-homophobia activists have put together a plan to counteract the signs flown by the Florida Family Association, which regularly hires an airplane to fly their banners about Gay Days at Walt Disney World. The independently-organized and operated Gay Days is an annual multi-day event that brings as many as 150,000 visitors to the Orlando area each year. The "average Americans against hatred," or "Non-A-Holes," are planning to fly their own banner in response to such Florida Family Association banners as last year's "Warning: Gay Day at Disney 6/4." The banner would read: "WARNING: Homophobes Loose in Orlando. Hide Your Kids." The banner will be flown on June 2.
…This year's special merchandise location for Star Wars Weekends will be called Darth's Mall. Featured merchandise will include shirts, pins, lanyards, Vinylmations, beach towels, iPhone cases and more.
…Passengers sailing on the Disney Fantasy may now make reservations for the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and The Pirates League through the online DCL Planning Center up to 120 days in advance. This is only available to cruisers who are paid in full and within their pre-reserve window. Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations for the info.
…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 78 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 51 percent full.
…Registration for the January 10-13, 2013, Disney Marathon Weekend is now open. Registration for Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is already 52 percent full.
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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Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.
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- Through May 20: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
- 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.
- July: Remainder of Storybook Circus opens at Magic Kingdom.
- 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.
- "In time for Holidays 2012": Little Mermaid- and Beauty and the Beast-themed sections of New Fantasyland open at Magic Kingdom.
- 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.
- 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.
- Enclosed Dumbo queue, – opens in July.
- Second Dumbo spinner – opens in July.
- Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station – opens in July.
- Be Our Guest Restaurant – opens by Holidays 2012.
- Maurice's Cottage – opens by Holidays 2012.
- Gaston's Tavern – opens by Holidays 2012.
- Bonjour Gifts – opens by Holidays 2012.
- Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid – opens by Holidays 2012.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – opens 2014.
- Princess Fairy Tale Hall – opens 2014.
- 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 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.
- Fort Wilderness Campground & Resort Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue – closed for refurbishment August 5 through December 31.
- 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.