Walt Disney World Resort Update

by Mark Goldhaber, staff writer

Update for May 21 – 28, 2012

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News and Views

Marathon gets a new course and other surprises for 20th annual event | New Fantasyland model now on display at Disney's Hollywood Studios | Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure closes; preparing for Agent P | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Marathon gets a new course and other surprises for 20th annual event

The 20th annual Walt Disney World Marathon features a brand new course, with runners visiting two new locations and passing through the Magic Kingdom earlier than ever before.

For the first time, runners will run nearly a lap around the Walt Disney World Speedway. Some, including MousePlanet's Stephanie Wien, have voiced concerns about running on a banked racetrack. It will be interesting to see how Disney handles that issue when the race is actually run.

Runners will also spend more time at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which previously just served as a get-there-and-turn-around spot. The course instead passes through and around various fields, takes three-quarters of a lap around the track and field venue, and—at around mile 19-1/3—takes a full lap around the field at Champion Stadium for the "Mile 20 Spectacular" entertainment (in honor of the 20th annual marathon).

Take a look at Disney's summary of this year's course changes.

What may turn out to be the most significant change, though, is the elimination of the early-morning loop through Epcot in favor of an earlier arrival at the Magic Kingdom park. Runners would previously take a short lap through the northeast corner of Epcot and pass back near the start line just after Mile 4, then pass by the west side of the Walt Disney World Speedway around Mile 8 before finally reaching the Magic Kingdom around Mile 10. On the new course, runners head straight for the Magic Kingdom, bypassing the Speedway on the east side, and arriving at the park around Mile 5.

The accelerated trip to the Magic Kingdom serves two purposes: First, runners are fresher when they reach the park, making it less likely that slower entrants might get swept before they run through some of the park's iconic locations, making for happier racers. Second, runners will have cleared the park well before its scheduled opening, making the turnover from race to regular operations much smoother, and again imposing less pressure to sweep runners before they arrive.

This elimination of five miles in the early portion of the race is made up for by the lap around the Speedway (one mile) and the loop through the sports complex (four miles). By the time runners hit Mile 21 back along Osceola Parkway, they'll be at the same point as they were a year ago.

Star Wars Weekends return to Disney's Hollywood Studios

Celebrity hosts and this week's guests for Star Wars Weekends along with some costumed characters greet crowds at the Sorcerer Hat Stage at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Pictured are (left to right) Dee Bradley Baker, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor, Andy Secombe, and Ray Park. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The American Idol screen makes it easy to view the 501st Legion of stormtroopers as they march during the Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Donald Duck greets guests as a stormtrooper. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

A closeup with Minnie Mouse as Princess Leia. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Youngsters join in the Padawan Mind Challenge. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

One of the special Star Wars Weekends counter service offerings is Kids Power Packs with treats loaded inside a collectible R2-D2 container. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

New Fantasyland model now on display at Disney's Hollywood Studios

The scale model of the New Fantasyland expansion is now on display for the general public in the exhibition area of Walt Disney: One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The model, which was on display to the attendees of last summer's D23 Expo in Anaheim, and for the media at last month's press event, shows off all of the work that is completed and still in progress in the back half of the Magic Kingdom.

What was formerly an empty wall in the back of the One Man's Dream exhibit now houses an extensive scale model of the New Fantasyland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

A map accompanying the Fantasyland model helps to lay out the pathways that will compose the New Fantasyland Forest addition. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will take up a huge amount of space in the new Fantasyland Forest. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The hill for the Mine Train should be sufficient to block the view of Prince Eric's Castle for those first entering the land.

The extended northeast corner of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, in conjunction with the curving path and plenty of foliage, will prevent guests from having disruptive sightlines for the new attractions. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Storybook Circus will be the first area of New Fantasyland to be completely open. 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.

Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure closes; preparing for Agent P

The first visible step in the conversion from the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure to the Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure took place this week with the closure of the Kim Possible attraction. The well-received attraction is now being retired as the Agent P edition is now prepared for a late June debut.

Many of the popular effects used for the Kim Possible version will be repurposed for the Agent P version, with all-new effects being added, as well. Agent P will make several appearances throughout the game. "You never know where Perry's going to pop up," Imagineer Matt Beiler told MousePlanet last month, "so you may see him zip-lining across a rooftop in France, or popping out of a pot in Mexico, or you may have to help him escape from a lamp in the U.K."

The storyline for the new attraction holds that Perry the Platypus is on vacation with the Flynn-Fletcher family, and is stuck in a cat carrier. Since he can't get out and adopt his Agent P alter-ego, the OWCA (Organization Without a Cool Acronym) is recruiting guests to help stop the evil Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz.

Doofenshmirtz has created all-new evil "-inators" for the game across World Showcase, Beiler said. "For example, in Mexico he's created a Flashbackinator, which brings back everyone's haircuts from the 1980s."

Contact is made between the OWCA's Major Monogram and the new recruits via a device called Field Operative Notification Equipment (FONE), which seems to indicate that guests will continue to utilize some sort of modified Verizon cell phone as their gameplay device.

The new game will take place in the same seven pavilions as the Kim Possible version: Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Japan, France, and United Kingdom.

For the audio of the entire interview with Beiler, as well as interviews with Phineas and Ferb creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff "Swampy" Marsh, Phineas voice talent Vincent Martella, and Test Track show producer Trevor Bryant, check out this week's MouseStation podcast, scheduled for publication tomorrow.

The Magic of Disney Animation now offers a campus map that offers a more flexible set of choices as to where to go instead of being drawn through a set course. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The Animation Gallery now has a new exhibit called "Setting the Scene," showcasing layouts and backgrounds from years of Disney Animation films. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney Cruise Line changes rebooking policy

Mary Kraemer with MousePlanet travel sponsor Mouse Ear Vacations shared some changes to Disney Cruise Line's policy about credits on cruises rebooked on board the ship. Mary asks, "don't shoot the messenger," but Castaway Club members are not happy about this latest change.

Under the new policy, passengers who book a new six-day or shorter cruise while they are on board the ship receive a $100 shipboard credit per stateroom; the discount increases to $200 for cruises lasting one week or longer. Passengers also receive a 10 percent discount off the published fare. This discount and shipboard credit is the same for all passengers, regardless of Castaway Club status. Previously, Platinum Castaway Club members (those who had gone on at least 10 Disney cruises) were eligible for rebooking credits of up to $350 depending on the itinerary.

The new policy also applies when you change the date of a previously booked cruise. Repeat cruisers frequently book a "placeholder" cruise while onboard to lock in the stateroom credit and discount, then move their booking to another date as their vacations plans firm up. Cruisers who move a placeholder cruise booked onboard before this policy changed will now receive the new standard, and possibly lower, onboard credit. 

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom bridge from hub to Fantasyland (near Mad Tea Party) – construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Dumbo – experience development AV package.
  • Magic Kingdom AVAC systems – construction.
  • Epcot Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion aquatic quarantine building 1, turtle rehab building – construction.
  • Epcot Odyssey Bridge – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – electrical.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – electrical.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris pool heaters – mechanical.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom main entrance equipment room – signage.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris – installation of cattle gate.
  • Blizzard Beach handrail project – electrical.
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – general contractor's conditions for fuel line replacement.
  • Disney's Polynesian Resort building 1 – fire sprinkler repairs.
  • Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Outpost – drainage.
  • Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – sidewalk repairs.
  • Disney's Boardwalk Resort – construction.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort – construction.
  • Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort Barbados bus stop – concrete.
  • Centra Care – sidewalk installation.

An interesting display promoting Disney-Pixar's Brave show Merida shooting an arrow at a target on an adjacent billboard. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Quick takes …

...Last Friday, the Disneyland Resort in California announced increases of up to 35 percent in the cost of its annual passports. This increase also included the Premier passport valid at both the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort. The Premier pass, is now $849 per year, a $100 (13 percent) increase. While Walt Disney World has not yet announced a pending price increase, the Disneyland hike should be enough to make you really consider your future ticket needs—the Disneyland increase came with less than 48 hours warning.

…A new book will feature the art of Disney theme park posters. Poster Art of Disney Parks will be available in select stores at Disneyland and Walt Disney World at the end of this month. Priced at $40, the 144-page book features nearly 300 posters and poster concepts, including images from international Disney parks and almost all of the original 1950s Disneyland posters. The book will be released nationally this fall. If you can wait, Amazon will have the book (release date 9/4) for $26.13.

…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 opens Tuesday, July 10 at 12:00 p.m. EDT.

…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. The related runDisney Kids' Races are now 52 percent full.

…Registration for the November 9-10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is 59 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 61 percent full.

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."

Crowd levels are moderate to high this week at Walt Disney World. 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, May 22, 2012 5 / 10
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 6 / 10
Thursday, May 24, 2012 7 / 10
Friday, May 25, 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!

  • Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios start this weekend.
  • If visiting Epcot, remember that Test Track is closed now Fall 2012; plan your FASTPASS strategy accordingly.
  • 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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Coming up

  • 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 2. 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 9, 12, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, and 30, December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, and 21. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • 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.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • 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.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment August 4-10.
  • 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.


  • Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure – closed May 19 to make way for the Disney Phineas and Ferb: Agent P's World Showcase Adventure.
  • Test Track – closed through November 30 for "reimagining."

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • No known current closures.

Animal Kingdom

  • Affection Section – closed for refurbishment May 3-June 6.


  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – 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.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 28 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – closed for annual refurbishment upon reopening of Typhoon Lagoon.


  • 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 June 6 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

Current Discounts & Promotions

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.

MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

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, May 29 to June 27. Prices for members and up to 3 guests are $57.85 plus tax for adults and $46.80 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.