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Update for November 26 – December 2, 2012

Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions | Comments

News and Views

Finding New Fantasyland | Bullion's Thunder | Fantasmic dining on the go | Disney Parks Cyber Monday deals | Early-bird shopping discounts return | Gonzaga takes second Old Spice Classic | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd Update

Finding New Fantasyland

Open previews of New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom continue this week, leading up to the official grand opening on December 6.


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If you want to get a feel for the new expansion, Disney has launched a new mini-website called Finding Fantasyland that gives you an entertaining look at the story behind the land and its attractions. Make sure that you click the "Enter to Reveal the Story" link to get a look at some cool animation and hear the voice of David Ogden Stiers (Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast) narrating the story. Play the game to reveal each of the four symbols to watch some more animation and see images with some more points to the area's back story.

It's interesting to note that, after you lift the curse in the game to help open New Fantasyland, there's a little bit of animation that hints at the remaining major construction in the Enchanted Forest: The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

In another angle to the New Fantasyland story, the "Believe in Fantasy" promotion by Disney continues to add to the new legend of dragons at the Magic Kingdom. Last week, Gary Buchanan posted some "newly discovered" photos and video of Imagineers finding a dragon's egg and footprints while originally building the Magic Kingdom, as well as some purported video of a dragon on the loose in the city. It's an entertaining yarn, and it'll be interesting to see the payoff, when it finally happens.


The Finding Fantasyland website tells readers about the huge music box that Maurice designed for Belle and the Beast. His original design sketches for the music box sit on top of the podium next to the Magic Mirror portal. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


One of Maurice's test sculptures for the music box sits on a wall behind the podium. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The finished music box turns and plays music in the center of the Rose Gallery inside Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Beast's Castle. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The Finding Fantasyland site also tells readers more about Maurice's Popping Machine. It sits near Bonjour! Village Gifts in Belle's Village. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Bullion's Thunder

Last week, we reported that Walt Disney Imagineering had revealed a piece of artwork that contained a clue as to one of its upcoming projects at Walt Disney World. Further, we speculated that it likely would be related to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Later that day, Disney confirmed that it would indeed be part of an enhanced interactive queue at Big Thunder.


A magnificent cascade falls down a mountain near Beast's Castle. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Maurice's Cottage sits near the bridge to Beast's Castle and Be Our Guest Restaurant. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Passing through the fallen archway, you cross the bridge to approach Be Our Guest Restaurant. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

The new back story, as reported on the Disney Parks Blog:

Barnabas T. Bullion is the founder and president of the Big Thunder Mining Company. The longtime mining magnate comes from a powerful East Coast family and considers gold to be his very birthright by virtue of his oddly appropriate name; in fact, he considers the ultimate gold strike to be his destiny. And that is why he is having so much trouble with Big Thunder Mountain. According to superstitious locals, Big Thunder Mountain is very protective of the gold it holds within, and the unfortunate soul who attempts to mine its riches is destined to fail. And so far that prophecy is coming to pass. The mine has been plagued by mysterious forces and natural disasters ever since. And yet the Big Thunder Mining Co. is still in operation. In fact, Bullion is discovering new veins of gold and digging new shafts every day, offering a closer look at the Big Thunder mining operation than ever before. But a word to the wise for anyone attempting to visit the mountain: watch out for runaway trains.

The blog is also reporting that there will be additional interactive elements coming to the queue. Work has already begun on the queue after park hours, so we'll have to wait to see when the changes become visible to the public. We're hoping that some of this will be revealed during the press event next week.


Along the entrance queue to Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid are multiple waterfalls that catch the sun. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


A closer look at the waterfall gives it a slightly different character. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Fantasmic dining on the go

If you're looking for reserved seating for Fantasmic but don't really feel like a sit-down meal, you've got an option from December 22 through January 5. The Taste of Hollywood To Go meal provides you with a boxed meal and a reserved seat to Fantasmic that evening. Reservations are available by calling the Walt Disney World Dining Line at 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) up to 24 hours ahead of time. You can also check in the park for remaining same day availability. You may also pick up picnic meals from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. the day of your reservation from Min & Bill's Dockside Diner.

Choices for adult meals ($15.99) include:

  • Cold fried chicken with roasted sweet potato and baby spinach, broccoli slaw, and blueberry cheesecake;
  • Cajun shrimp salad with beet and apple salad, ginger-marinated tomatoes and cucumbers, and mandarin orange cheesecake;
  • Cold-cut roast beef with creamy horseradish, potato salad, grilled asparagus, and chocolate cake;
  • Veggie sandwich with tomato salad, tabbouleh, and chocolate cake; or
  • tuna sushi roll with beet and apple salad, ginger-marinated tomatoes and cucumbers, and a spicy pecan chocolate cluster.

Meals for kids ages 9 and under cost $5.49 and include a choice of:

  • Turkey and American cheese wrap with apples and carrots with ranch dip, strawberry yogurt, and a seven-layer cookie bar
  • Strawberry yogurt, apple wedges, carrot sticks, Goldfish crackers, and an organic apple cinnamon and oatmeal bar.

Meals also include a 20-ounce soft drink or water. You can use one quick-service entitlement on a Disney Dining Plan for this meal.

Note: A credit card is required, with complete payment upon arrival. There is a 24-hour cancellation policy for this meal.

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.

Disney Parks Cyber Monday deals

Last Thursday, the Disney Parks Blog noted special deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While Black Friday is already past, you can still take advantage of today's Cyber Monday specials. You can get 15 percent off purchases of $50 or more, 20 percent off purchases of $75 or more, and 25 percent off purchases of $100 or more. In addition, all orders of $75 or more get free shipping. Just use the promotional code CYBER at checkout.

In addition, to get text messages about special offers and deals sent straight to your mobile device, you can text SHOP to 48169. You'll get no more than one text message per day, and you can text STOP to the same number to stop the messages. Note that standard message and data rates apply. For more information about the program, go to the terms and conditions page.


Prince Eric's Castle appears to sit right on the shore of the sea. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Approaching Prince Eric's Castle, it appears to rise up right out of the rocks themselves. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Early-bird shopping discounts return

The seasonal attempt to increase shopping at the major merchandise locations early in the day has resumed. Quick service dining receipts contain coupons good for 20 percent off merchandise purchased before 1:00 p.m. at the main shops at each theme park and Downtown Disney. The coupon can not be used in conjunction with other discounts such as AAA, Annual Pass, Disney Vacation Club, Disney Rewards Card, or Cast Member.

Shops offering the discount include:

  • The Emporium at Magic Kingdom
  • MouseGear at Epcot
  • Mickey's of Hollywood at Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Keystone Clothiers at Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Island Mercantile at Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • Disney Outfitters at Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • World of Disney at Downtown Disney Marketplace

Note: The coupons are not valid on certain merchandise, including alcohol, tobacco, Disney ticket media, periodicals, postage stamps, digital & video cameras, personalization, DVDs, CD, Disney Dollars, and Disney Gift Cards.


The queue for Under the Sea winds under Prince Eric's Castle. A side room for use with lengthy queues provides cautionary tales about going to sea through the use of frescoes on the ceiling. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


An adjacent picture accompanies every verse. Together, the four verses fill the eight sections of the domed ceiling. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The second verse warns of the danger posed by sirens. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


From the adjacent image, it appears that the sirens in this mythology have wings and can fly. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The third verse warns against encounters with a Leviathan. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The accompanying image depicts a Leviathan seemingly a cross between a whale, a shark, and more. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The final verse warns about a "monstrous beast." Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The accompanying illustration ties the series of frescoes to the attraction, depicting Ursula the Sea Witch as the "monstrous beast." Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Gonzaga takes second Old Spice Classic

Congratulations to the Gonzaga University men's basketball team, which knocked off Davidson College 81 to 67 last night in the finals of the seventh annual Old Spice Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. The 17th-ranked Bulldogs also knocked off Clemson and Oklahoma on their way to their second Old Spice Classic championship. They had previously won in 2008, beating Tennessee in the final game.

The eight teams for next year's Classic were also announced last week. The tournament, which takes place November 28-December 1, 2013, hosts Memphis, Butler, Oklahoma State, Louisiana State, Purdue, Saint Joseph’s, Siena & Washington State. Siena is the representative of the tournament host Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Yankee Trader – signs.
  • Epcot Italy pavilion Il Bel Cristalo – electrical.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom backstage Werikhe Way – mill and overlay.
  • Typhoon Lagoon Mayday Falls load area – paint.
  • Typhoon Lagoon – roadway improvements.
  • Downtown Disney Pleasure Island Mannequins Dance Palace – mechanical.
  • Downtown Disney West Side Cirque du Soleil – electrical.
  • Osceola Parkway Westbound near Disney's Animal Kingdom entrance – mill and overlay.
  • Disney's Boardwalk Resort Boardwalk Bakery – construction rehab.
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort access road – mill and overlay.
  • Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort service road – mill and overlay.
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort Convention Center – finishes.
  • Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – mill and overlay.

Quick takes …

…Did you play MousePlanet World Explorers IV with us earlier this month? Check out a selection of photos from our World Explorers IV event on our Facebook page and tag yourself! If you didn't play, check out the photos and make a note to join us next year!

…The Studios Central blog is reporting rumors that Disney Junior – Live on Stage may receive another update in January 2013 to replace the Little Einsteins and Handy Manny segments with Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First. The refurbishment, if it happens, would be the first in 22 months for the live show, which has received a number of updates in the past to reflect current Disney Channel/Disney Junior offerings.

…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 and the Stroller Walk Division of the 5K are sold out. The runDisney Kids' Races are 59 percent full (with more space available in the Mickey Mile than the dashes) and the Pasta in the Park Party is 54 percent full. Space for the featured races may still be available through Team in Training and other groups with reserved spots.

…Registration for the featured events of the February 22–24, 2013, fifth annual Princess Half Marathon Weekend are full, including the individual and team Half Marathons, the Race Retreat and the ChEAR Squad Platinum Package. The post-5K breakfast is 54 percent full, the runDisney Kids Races are 55 percent full, and the Pasta in the Park Party is 51 percent full. ChEAR Squad Gold and Silver packages are still available.

…Registration opens for the 2013 Expedition Everest Challenge on Tuesday, December 11, 2012. Individual registration starts at $105 per person and team registration start at $210 per two-person team. On January 30, those prices go up to $115 and $225 respectively, and they go up again on March 21 to $125 and $240, respectively. The related runDisney Kids Races for kids ages 4 to 10 has a $20 registration cost. Post-race party tickets start at $49 for adults (ages 10 and up) and $25 for kids (ages 3-9). Those prices go up to $59 and $30 on March 21.

…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 update

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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 drop off precipitously this week, and it's a perfect time to visit if you don't like the typical holiday season crowds. If you need tips for visiting during the holidays, check out our Disney Holiday eBooks! TouringPlans.com can also 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, November 27, 2012 1/10
Wednesday, November 28, 2012 2/10
Thursday, November 29, 2012 2/10
Friday, November 30, 2012 5/10

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!

  • Several Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parties this week close the Magic Kingdom at 7 pm.
  • If visiting Epcot, remember that Test Track is closed until December 6, 2012; plan your FASTPASS strategy accordingly.
  • Magic Kingdom is our Best Park on Friday.
  • 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


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Snow White's Scary Adventures – closed permanently for conversion to Princess Fairytale Hall.
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant – now in soft-open status, official opening December 6.
  • Enchanted Tales with Belle – now in soft-open status, official opening December 6.
  • Gaston's Tavern – now in soft-open status, official opening December 6.
  • Bonjour Village Gifts – now in soft-open status, official opening December 6.
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid – now in soft-open status, official opening December 6.
  • Ariel's Grotto – now in soft-open status, official opening December 6.
  • Splash Mountain – closed January 2 through March 19 for refurbishment.
  • Main Street Bakery – closed January through early summer for conversion to Starbucks location.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment February 1–7, 2013.
  • Princess Fairytale Hall – opens 2013.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – opens 2014.

Epcot

  • Test Track – closed through December 5 for "reimagining."
  • Bistro de Paris – closed through December 3 for refurbishment.
  • Fountain View Cafe – closed March through mid-summer for conversion to Starbucks location.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow – now in dress rehearsals, official opening December 6.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known refurbishments.

Resorts

  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa:
    • Grand Floridian Spa closed through December 17 for refurbishment.
    • Sandy Cove shop closed through December.
    • Courtyard Pool closed through early December for addition of zero-entry area.
    • Mouseketeer Club closed through November 2012.
    • Gasparilla Grill & Games closed through December 17.
    • Ivy Trellis Beauty and Barber Shop closed October 20 through December 3 for refurbishment.
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort – California Grill closed February 2, 2013, through late summer 2013 for refurbishment.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 28 through January 5, 2013 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – January 6, 2013 through March 16, 2013 closed for annual refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • Magnolia Golf Course – closed for refurbishment November 26 through December 2.
  • Palm Golf Course – closed for refurbishment December 3–9.
  • Oak Trail Golf Course – closed for refurbishment December 10–14.
  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. For 2012, the show will not be performed on November 27.
  • Splitsville Lanes & Lounge – opens December 8.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Passholder room discounts through end of year

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 to 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).

Room-only discount for January through early March

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).

Magic Your Way package discount for January through early March

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).

Special PhotoPass+ deal

Disney's PhotoPass service provides a discount on Disney PhotoPass+ pre-arrival packages. For $149.95 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.

2013 Military Salute offers

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.

These tickets 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 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.


Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.


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(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.