Walt Disney World and the Orange County Health Department (OCHD) are working together to find the cause of an ailment that has affected more than 30 guests. Most of those affected appear to have participated in the Wild Africa Trek over a two-day period in early June. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatique, and nausea, usually over two to five days. A stomach bug is suspected, though the vomiting reported is less than what is common for norovirus infections.
Upon learning of the outbreak on June 11, OCHD inspectors reviewed the two locations that provide food service for the tour, and both were found satisfactory with no violations. At this point, it appears uncertain whether the virus was transmitted via food, water, or contact. In response, Disney has deep-cleaned areas used by guests, added more hand sanitizer locations, and reminded employees of hand hygeine requirements.
Wild Africa Trek, which debuted early last year, is a three-hour tour through normally backstage areas at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The tour allows guests to literally lean over cliffs above hippopotami and Nile crocodiles, cross a swaying two-section rope bridge, and take a private safari jeep off of the beaten track of Kilimanjaro Safaris to a meal at a "safari retreat" overlooking a number of areas of the savanna. The cliff-edge and rope bridge experiences take place while the guests are restrained by a safety harness.
During the food stop, guests are served a light meal of African-inspired food and juice, while having a view of a great deal of the savanna. Guests can see the plains, the elephant area, and—walking out a long pier—the lion area. Guests are also provided binoculars to view the wildlife more closely. It is quite possible that the virus was spread by an improperly cleaned pair of binoculars or even a railing on the safari camp. Those who didn't get sick told OCHD investigators that they frequently washed their hands or used hand sanitizer.
Groups of up to 12 guests depart up to six times daily in busy seasons for standard prices of $189 to $249. A $50-per-person discount offer is currently in effect through August 25. Call 407-WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687) to make a reservation.
In a situation reminiscent of the incident where Walt Disney World refused to let a teenager enter Disney's Animal Kingdom dressed as Tinker Bell, ClickOrlando.com is reporting that a man whose appearance resembled Santa Claus was asked by Disney to change his attire because he was "disruptive to our operations and confusing to our guests, particularly children who asked to take photos with him." Thomas Tolbert was wearing a shirt with Santa faces and quotes from Clement Clarke Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" while on a family vacation when he was approached by Disney.
While the Walt Disney World website states, in answer to the question, "What is the best way to dress for a day at the parks? Is there any clothing that isn't permissible?" that, "Attire that is not appropriate for the theme parks (and which may result in refusal of admittance) includes but is not limited to: Adult costumes or clothing that can be viewed as representative of an actual Disney character…"; however, Santa Claus is not a Disney character, and so it is not explicitly banned, as the Tinker Bell costume was. Instead, it appears that the fact that he was not only attracting crowds, but also posing for photographs and signing autographs that resulted in Disney's request. Tolbert did not approach anyone, but did not turn any autograph seekers away.
While it would seem that Disney would not need to ask someone to change their clothes and "be less 'Santa-ish'," the fact that he was posing for photos and signing autographs could possibly lead to liability for Disney if something went wrong because Tolbert could be perceived as being a Disney "streetmosphere" character, especially since Disney's Winter Summerland miniature golf course already posits that Santa and the elves spend their vacations at the resort. While Tolbert is commonly approached by people for photos and autographs, that could be a bit confusing at Disney.
Tolbert was not asked to leave the parks, but was requested to tell people who came up to him that "I am not who you think I am, I am on vacation and please leave me alone." In exchange for his cooperation, Tolbert was given park tickets for a return visit.
Registration is now open for MouseAdventure: World Explorers IV! The fourth annual running of the scavenger hunt/puzzle quest/race through Walt Disney World's parks takes place on Saturday, November 3 at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (the game has been going on at the parks of the Disneyland Resort for more than 11 years now). Do you think that you know the Magic Kingdom? We bet you don't know it as well as you think you do! Test your wits against those of our puzzle masters. For more information, check out the MouseAdventure information page.
The brackets and schedule for the 7th Old Spice Classic lineup are set. The first round takes place on Thanksgiving, November 22, and sees West Virginia take on Marist at noon, followed by Vanderbilt against Davidson at 2:00 p.m., UTEP vs. Oklahoma at 7:00 p.m., and Gonzaga vs. Clemson at 9:00 p.m. Those games are scheduled to be televised on ESPN2 and ESPN3D.
The second round takes place on Friday, November 23, and features semifinal games at 12:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and consolation games at 3:00 and 5:30 p.m. The first game will be televised on ESPN, the second on ESPNU, and the last two on ESPN2.
The final round takes place on Sunday, November 25. The fifth-place game, between the two consolation game winners, takes place at 11:30 a.m. to be televised on ESPNU. The seventh-place game, between the two consolation game losers, starts at 2:00 p.m. to be televised on ESPN3. The third-place game, between the semifinal losers, takes place at 4:30 p.m. to be televised on ESPNU. The championship game, between the semifinal winners, is scheduled for 7 p.m., to be broadcast on ESPN2.
All games in all rounds are also appearing on ESPN3D, online at WatchESPN.com, and via the WatchESPN mobile app for those who subscribe to an affiliated provider.
Gonzaga will attempt to become the tournament's first two-time winner, having won in 2008. Other previous winners include Dayton (2011), Notre Dame (2010), Florida State (2009), North Carolina State (2007), and Arkansas (2006).
For more information, go to the event website.
Low railings around the Mad Tea Party were removed several months ago, coinciding with the progress of the construction of the new Fantasyland Forest, making it easier to sit down on the brick wall. Unfortunately, children climbing up the wall and running in the gardens have pushed over the Wonderland leaves. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
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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.
Tickets for the 2013 D23 Expo in Anaheim, California, go on sale at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET) on Thursday, August 9, exactly one year before the show itself opens. The Expo runs from August 9 through 11, 2013. New features to accommodate crowds include a 2,000-seat overflow theater for live streaming of Arena presentations, nearly doubling the size of Stage 23 from 1,000 seats, expanding the show floor, and a larger Collectors Forum. The event also features the Disney Legends Awards.
D23 Expo 2013 also features the Disney Legends Awards—a stirring biennial event that pays tribute to the talented men and women who have made indelible contributions to the Disney legacy; an all-new Fan Art Contest themed to the upcoming 50th anniversary of Mary Poppins; the 12,000 square-foot Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit featuring costumes, props, and set pieces from Disney’s rich history; plus amazing live events, celebrity appearances, panels and presentations, sneak peeks, and unique experiences that celebrate the past, present, and future of Disney.
From August 9 through December 31, 2012, tickets are $47 for a one-day adult admission and $37 for children 3-12. Tickets for members of D23: The Official Disney Fan Club are $40 for a one-day adult admission and $32 for children. Prices go up on January 1, 2013. Multi-day money-saving tickets are also available for both D23 members and the general public, and D23 Members can save as much as $204 off the price of admission, based on the purchase of four three-day tickets at the D23 member rate.
In addition to these special advance-purchase savings, D23 Members can also buy D23 Expo VIP Sorcerer Packages, extremely limited tickets that are only available to members and which offer incredible, exclusive opportunities. Sorcerer Package tickets will be available exclusively to both Gold- and Silver-level D23 Members at $1,500 per ticket. Members will also have the option to purchase up to two Sorcerer tickets, which includes three days of admission, reserved seating at all presentations, a special credential, a pre-Expo tour of the Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives exhibit, and other benefits.
For more information, go to the D23 Expo website .
The following is a listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…If you'll be at Walt Disney World over the next couple of weeks and want to keep tabs on your favorite Olympic events, Disney has provided a list of restaurants and lounges that will be showing the games from London through the closing ceremonies:
If you're looking for Olympic-themed merchandise, some is available for purchase at Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion.
…The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Disney's Magical express experienced a precipitous drop in May. Ridership was down about 30,000 riders—14.1 percent—from May 2011, pulling April-June numbers down 3.8 percent and figures for the first half of 2012 down by about 1 percent. Overall numbers were still high, at just over 1.1 million passengers between January and June, but the number was down about 11,000 from the same period last year. It's uncertain as to why the May numbers were down, or whether it is likely to repeat. The impact to the resort won't be known for certain because Disney does not report park attendance or hotel occupancy totals for the resort.
…The popular Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom game will be expanding in August. While it's footprint in the theme park is not changing, the game will be gaining a board game and a new distribution method. In addition to the free packs of cards given out at the two dispatch stations within the park (maximum one per person per day), there will also be a new retail package available both at the Walt Disney World Resort and through the Disney Parks Online store. The package will contain seven random spell cards (including at least one of the rare spell cards numbered 61-70), a game board (four are available), rules for the new board game, new tokens, and a complete spell card checklist. The four game boards feature Maleficent, Dr. Facilier, Jafar, and Cruella de Vil.
…With the victory of Danielle Colding in the finale of HGTV's Design Star, she will join the lineup of HGTV and DIY Network stars at this fall's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Colding will appear September 28-30, during the Festival's opening weekend.
…Sharky and Bones of The Never Land Pirate Band, from the popular Disney Junior series Jake and the Never Land Pirates, performs at Downtown Disney's Waterside Stage August 3 through 12. The characters perform three shows daily, and 2:00, 3:00, and 5:00 p.m. Their show includes songs from the series, including "Roll Up the Map," "Castaway on Pirate Island," and "Talk Like a Pirate."
…A construction project is adding a single lane to southbound Sherberth Road at the intersection with Osceola Parkway, making striping modifications to westbound Osceola Parkway at the intersection to convert an existing through lane of Osceola Parkway into a second left turn lane. The changes are being made to accommodate higher levels of traffic turning left at the intersection, causing some backups along westbound Osceola Parkway.
…Registration for the February 22–24, 2013, fifth annual Princess Half Marathon Weekend is now open.
…Registration for the September 28–29 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend is now full. The related runDisney Kids' Races are now 61 percent full and the 5K is now 60 percent full, and the Disney Villains Hollywood Bash after-party is 57 percent full.
…Registration for the November 9-10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is now officially full. There are still some opportunities available to run the race via charity groups and travel operators. Look for details at the event website.
…Registration for the January 10-13, 2013, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is now open. Registration for Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is 87 percent full, the full Marathon is 75 percent full, and the Half Marathon is 65 percent full.
…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.
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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Walt Disney World has announced a free dining offer for Disney Visa card members and the general public. The offer is valid for stays most nights September 30 through October 4, October 19 through November 1, November 9-15, November 23-29, and December 10-13, 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.
Campsites, 3-bedroom villas, and the Little Mermaid standard view rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included in this offer, and you must book by September 29 to get this offer.
Remember: If you're planning to play MouseAdventure: World Explorers IV on November 3, you can get free dining as long as you arrive by the preceding Thursday, November 1.
You can make your reservations through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-7631 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code F8Z (Disney Visa) or X9N (general availability) for Value resorts or D85 (Disney Visa) or I87 (general availability) for Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa Resorts.
Disney's PhotoPass service has announced a new summer discount on Disney PhotoPass+ pre-arrival packages. For $169.95 plus tax, Walt Disney World guests receive a voucher to exchange for a PhotoPass+ card upon arrival at the resort, a Photo Gallery CD with over 400 stock photos ($39.95 value), a unique code to create and order a photo CD upon return from their trip ($169.95 value), print packages at select dining locations ($29.95 value each), and digital photos from select attractions ($14.95 value each). Applicable taxes will be charged to all orders.
This special offer is only available from this link or by calling the Guest Support line at 407-560-4300, and only prior to arrival at Walt Disney World Resort. All sales are final, and not eligible for an exchange or refund.
The package may take as long as 14 days to arrive, and you must bring your voucher from the package to redeem it, so make sure that you order far enough in advance to allow your materials to arrive.
Attractions currently participating in the program are Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, Expedition Everest, and Dinosaur. Current participating restaurants are 1900 Park Fare, 'Ohana, Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Chef Mickey's Cinderella's Royal Table, Tusker House Restaurant, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.
A new room-only discount has been released for this summer. The discount is available for stays most nights from August 15 through September 29 and must be booked by August 14.
Discounts vary by resort:
Other room types may be available at varying rates.
This discount does not include suites, 3 bedroom Grand Villas, and Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
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.
You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-1894 or your favorite travel agent and using discount code T47.
A Passholder discount is available for most dates August 17 through September 29. 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, 3 -bedroom Grand Villas, and Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included. Discounts range from 25-35 percent and availability varies by date.
You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7635 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code W9G. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
A Passholder discount is available for most dates July 22 through August 14. 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, 3-bedroom Grand Villas, and Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included.
Discounts range from 20-30 percent and availability varies by date.
You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7283 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code C87. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
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. July 4, 2012 is a blockout date.
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.
(Send an email to Mark Goldhaber)
Mark (@MPMark) is a veteran of dozens of trips to Walt Disney World starting in 1972, with a few Disneyland trips thrown in for good measure. As a Disney stockholder and a Disney Vacation Club member, Mark is always in touch with what's going on with The Mouse. Mark serves as MousePlanet's Walt Disney World content coordinator. Mark is a senior information technology manager working for the State of New York. He lives in the suburbs outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son.