Last Friday, the second phase of the Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland expansion began a "dress rehearsal" with lucky park guests who began lining up as soon as the park opened in anticipation of the preview. The land is expected to be open to all guests for "dress rehearsal" from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day through this Friday, October 19. The land then begins two weeks of cast member previews, followed by Passholder, D23, and Disney Vacation Club previews. Official previews begin November 19, and the land's grand opening takes place on December 6 during a press event. We'll bring you reports from that event as close to real-time as we can.
Just about everything in Fantasyland Forest is now open, with the exception of the Be Our Guest Restaurant, which is open for guests to view, but will not begin food service until the official previews start. In addition to Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid and Enchanted Tales with Belle, Gaston's Tavern and Bonjour! Village Gifts are now open for dining and shopping. The Little Mermaid dark ride features Fastpass, which can be obtained at the Mickey's PhilharMagic Fastpass location. Gaston is available for meet-and-greets near the fountain in his honor outside his tavern. Ariel is also doing meet-and-greets at her grotto adjacent to the queue area for her attraction.
Gaston's Tavern is serving a variety of refreshments, including enormous warm cinnamon rolls ($3.99), roasted pork shanks ($7.99), chocolate croissants ($2.99), fresh fruit and veggies ($3.49 to $3.69), hummus ($4.39), and beverages ($2.19 to $3.49). The signature beverage will be LeFou's Brew (also known in Disney California Adventure's Cars Land as Red's Apple Freeze), a frozen apple juice with a taste of toasted marshmallow, topped with all-natural passion fruit-mango foam. It comes in a souvenir stein (featuring an image of Gaston) or goblet (featuring an image of Belle) for $9.99, or without the souvenir drinkware for $4.49. Elsewhere in the area, Maurice's Amazing Popping Machine sells popcorn and beverages.
Bonjour! Village Gifts, themed to Belle's favorite bookstore, features everything from apparel to dishware, costume accessories to home goods. As merchandise is still arriving, purchase of some items will be limited to two or four items per guest. Those items will be labeled as such in the store.
If you're looking for even more details about the new area, the Disney Parks Blog will be hosting a live chat with Chris Beatty this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Chris is the Creative Director for the project at Walt Disney Imagineering, and a heck of a nice guy.
The first phase of New Fantasyland, Storybook Circus, opened in July. Phase 3, Princess Fairytale Hall, is scheduled to open in early 2013. The final phase, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, is currently expected to open in early 2014.
Last week's preview reservations for Passholders and D23 members did not quite go off as scheduled. While the D23 reservations became available at 1 p.m. EDT as scheduled, Passholder reservations were delayed a week due to "technical difficulties." It's uncertain whether the delay was actually due to problems with the computer systems, concern about swamping the system with a higher percentage of people home on Columbus Day without worry of having to try from work, or wanting to get the "dress rehearsals" started before opening the official sneak previews.
Meanwhile, Disney Vacation Club Member previews were announced last Wednesday. Those reservations become available today at noon EDT, the same time as the rescheduled Passholder reservations open.
The DVC previews take place on November 4 and 5. Each day features three three-and-a-half-hour sessions (8:00 to 11:30 a.m., 12:30 to 4:00 p.m., and 5:00 to 8:30 p.m.). DVC Members can register for themselves and up to 3 guests. As a reminder, Passholders can register parties up to 8 guests total, but each member of the party must be a valid passholder at both the time of registration and on the date of the preview. To register, Passholders will need the names, dates of birth, and annual pass numbers for each member of the party.
The Passholder website will post a reservation link when tickets become available at noon EDT. There is no word yet on how the DVC reservation link will be posted. After you register, you see a confirmation page. Print this confirmation, and take it to the event check-in location with a valid photo ID and valid annual pass to receive your ticket(s). Disney is only accepting printed confirmations, and will not accept electronic images (on cell phones, tablets, etc.) for admission.
When you reserve your tickets, you choose between two itineraries. Both provide a self-guided tour of Be Our Guest Restaurant and a ride on Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. The itineraries diverge, as one provides the chance to experience Enchanted Tales with Belle, while the other provides access to the meet-and-greet photo opportunity with Ariel at Ariel's Grotto.
Here are the currently scheduled preview dates:
Saturday, November 3
Sunday, November 4
Monday, November 5
Saturday, November 10
Sunday, November 11
Registration is now open for MouseAdventure: World Explorers IV, but only until this Friday, October 19. 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. Registration will close on Friday, October 19th at 11:00 p.m. (EDT), or when the event sells out. For more information, check out the MouseAdventure information page.
One of the most popular parts Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party is the ride of the Headless Horseman before the Boo To You Parade. Last Monday night, while taking the turn in Liberty Square on a wet pathway, the Horseman's horse lost its footing and fell, throwing its rider. The horse and rider were OK. The rider soon remounted, and the duo completed the parade route. They did not ride before the second parade that night.
A cell phone video (please shoot horizontally, people!) shows the Headless Horseman's mount slipping and falling in Liberty Square last Monday night.
There are weather-related criteria for whether or not the ride will take place, and whether it would be full speed or a slower pace. It's unknown at this time what caused the fall. The ride has taken place again since that night, though at a reduced speed.
There are reports that this is a new horse riding the route this year, replacing Khan, who had traveled the route many times over the preceding years. Those reports, however, are unconfirmed.
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.
Tye Arnold, of Northeastern Arkansas, and Rich Tamayo, of Queens, New York, were named the 2013–2014 Walt Disney World Ambassador team during a ceremony at Epcot's America Gardens Theatre last Friday. The two men made it through a two-month candidate search to represent the more than 64,000 cast members at the resort from January 2013 through December 2014. They will succeed the outgoing Ambassador team of Norman Vossschulte and Jennifer Mason, whose terms expire at the end of the year.
The new team will represent the resort at an average of nearly 10 events per day throughout the year, from community and VoluntEAR events to hospital visits to serving as masters of ceremonies at press events and internal cast member recognition ceremonies.
Tye Arnold and Rich Tamayo are named the Walt Disney World Ambassadors for 2013-2014.
Nominations are now open for the sixth annual Disney's Dreamers Academy. The event, presented in conjunction with Steve Harvey and Essence magazine, takes place March 7 to 10, 2013. One hundred U.S. high school students ages 13-19 and a parent or guardian will attend the educational and mentoring program.
The students will be inspired by celebrities and motivational speakers, and will participate in workshops to get hands-on experience in a variety of careers. Students will be able to explore arts and sciences, athletics, culinary, and more.
Students can be nominated through October 31 by parents, teachers, mentors, and even themselves. Nominations must be made online at the Disney's Dreamers Academy website. You can also get more information on Facebook or by following @dreamersacademy on Twitter. Winners will be announced in early 2013.
The widow of Russell Roscoe, the maintenance worker killed while working on Primeval Whirl on March 13, 2011, has filed a wrongful death suit against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Terrie Roscoe claims that her husband was injured when a a ride operator broke protocol in releasing a ride vehicle without sufficient warning, and that a loudspeaker malfunction prevented her husband from hearing any warnings. She also claims that the management of maintenance workers "fostered a rushed environment whereby important implemental safety precautions were ignored by management."
Last September, OSHA cited Disney for four violations in the incident and levied $69,000 in fines against the company. Two of the violations were classed as "Serious," one as "Repeat," and one as "Other."
Roscoe is seeking damages for wrongful death, pain and suffering, funeral expenses, and lost support.
The following is a listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…Test Track reopens on December 6, following the opening of New Fantasyland earlier in the day. The "reimagined" attraction will have guests in the queue design their own concept car in a design studio via a series of selections, then board a six-passenger SimCar for a test drive. Guests will find out how well their design responds in capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power as compared to the SimCar. In the post-show, guests will find out their test results, and will also be able to use a digital driving table to race their design over various terrains and extreme conditions. There will even be an opportunity to create a commercial for their custom car. Of course, there will also be a Chevrolet showroom displaying the latest models. Test Track's reopening will be part of a press event for the Magic Kingdom's expansion. MousePlanet will bring you reports from the press event as close to real-time as possible.
…The new Alice in Wonderland-themed water play area at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is officially open. There are water sprays, two small water slides, and an oversized Mat Hatter's hat that fills with water and dumps its contents on those below.
…For those steampunk fans out there, a new series of Mechanical Kingdom merchandise will become available over the next few months. New Vinylmation figures are being rolled out now, two open edition pins will be released in November, and a set of ear hat ornaments will roll out next spring.
…Registration for the featured race of the November 9–10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is full. There are still some opportunities available to run the race via charity groups and travel operators. Look for details at the event website. The related Mickey's Jingle Jungle 5K is 73 percent full, runDisney Kids Races are 69 percent full, and the Wine & Dine Finish Line Party is 90 percent sold out.
…Registration for the featured events of the January 10–13, 2013, Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend are full, including the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, the full Marathon, and the Half Marathon. The Runner's World Challenge is also sold out. The Disney Family Fun Run 5K still has room at 76 percent full, and the runDisney Kids' Races are 53 percent full. Space for the featured races is still available through Team in Training and other groups with reserved spots.
…Registration for the February 22–24, 2013, fifth annual Princess Half Marathon Weekend is open. The individual and team Half Marathons are both 72 percent full. The Race Retreat is 80 percent full and the post-5K breakfast is 52 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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A Passholder discount is available for most dates through December 24. 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. Campsites, 3-bedroom Grand Villas, and standard rooms at Disney's Art of Animation Resort are not included. Discounts range from 20-35 percent and availability varies by date.
You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7859 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code Q5M. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
A free dining package for 2013 is now available for citizens of the United Kingdom. The package is valid for arrivals in 2013 between January 13 and March 19, as well as April 7, through December 8. The package includes not only a free Disney Dining Plan, but also a $100 gift card and a 14-day ticket for the price of a 14-day ticket. The deal is valid for a free Quick-Service Dining Plan at Moderate resorts and a free standard Dining Plan at Deluxe resorts. You must book by November 15, 2012 to get this deal.
You can now can book a room-only reservation at select Walt Disney World resorts for 15-35 percent off of standard rates most nights from January 2 through March 7, except January 18-20. Reservations must be booked by December 31.
Guests can receive 35 percent off at all Deluxe and Deluxe Villas Resorts, except for Disney's Wilderness Lodge and the Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, which both offer 25 percent off..
30 percent discounts are available at most Moderate Resorts, including Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort, and Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort Cabins.
Guests can also get a 25 percent discount at Disney's All-Star Sports Resort, Disney's All-Star Movies Resort, and Disney's Pop Century Resort
Fifteen percent discounts can be had at Disney's Art of Animation Resort, family suites only. Standard rooms in the Little Mermaid-themed section are excluded. Also excluded are Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, All-Star Music Resort, 3-bedroom Grand Villas, and Fort Wilderness campsites.
The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length-of-stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.
You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-7661 or your favorite travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
You can now book a room-only reservation at select Walt Disney World resorts for discounts on room, ticket, and dining packages most nights from January 2 through March 7. Value Resort package discounts apply to Quick-Service Dining Plans, while Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas Resorts all offer discounts on the standard Disney Dining Plan. Reservations must be booked by December 31.
Packages are available at all resorts except for the standard rooms in the Little Mermaid-themed section of Disney's Art of Animation Resort, 3-bedroom Grand Villas, and Fort Wilderness campsites.
The discount codes offer are Q8J (for Disney Visa cardmembers) and T64 (for Disney Visa cardmembers) for Value resorts and Q83 (for all guests) Q85 (for Disney Visa cardmembers) for all other resorts. We do not have word on the general-availability codes yet.
The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length-of-stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.
You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling 407-939-7661 or your favorite travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
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 before you arrive 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, and Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.
From now through September 28, 2013, 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 $156 per ticket, plus tax (up from $138 last year), or with both the Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More options for $184 per ticket, plus tax (up from $165). No Base ticket is available with this offer.
You cannot use these tickets before October 1, 2012, and they expire after September 28, 2013. Blockout dates are December 24 to 31, 2012 and March 24 through April 4, 2013 at all ticketed locations, and July 4, 2013 at Magic Kingdom park only.
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. Tickets may be purchased by active and retired military personnel for themselves and up to five additional family members or friends. 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.
You may upgrade the tickets 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.
In addition, specially priced rooms are available to active and retired U.S. military personnel at select Walt Disney World resorts for stays most nights from October 1, 2012 through September 28, 2013, except for November 24, 2012, December 23-31, 2012, and March 25 through April 4, 2013.
For complete information regarding Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets and discounted resort rates, 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.