On Wednesday, Disney Parks and Resorts made an announcement that had been rumored for some time, and there are a lot of changes coming to the executive leadership at Disney Parks & Resorts, effective February 1, most notably a new president for the two domestic resorts.
As with her predecessor, Al Weiss, when Meg Crofton was named President of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Operations for U.S. and France, she held on to her title as President of Walt Disney World Resort until a successor was named. In Weiss' case, he was named to the global title in November 2005 and held on to his Walt Disney World title until Crofton was named president in August 2006. Crofton took the global title from Weiss in July 2011. Now, starting February 1, Crofton will hand the Walt Disney World Resort President title to current Disneyland President George Kalogridis, who has been in that role since 2009.
Crofton will now focus entirely on strategic oversight of initiatives impacting Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disneyland Paris Resorts combined.
Kalogridis, who began his Disney career in an hourly busboy position at the Contemporary Resort in 1971, has progressed through the ranks at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, and Disneyland Resorts. He is highly regarded, and is noted for walking the parks regularly to see what is going on first-hand. This change should be a positive one for Walt Disney World. Moving to fill Kalogridis' position at Disneyland Resort President will be Michael Colglazier, currently Vice President for Disney's Animal Kingdom, who has been in that role since 2010 and with Disney since 1989.
"With all that we currently have in flight across our resort destinations in the U.S. and France, the time is right to move forward with this leadership transition, noted Staggs in the press release. "This group of Disney veterans has the knowledge and expertise needed to continue delivering on our legacy of creating unforgettable experiences that our guests have come to know and expect. I would like to thank Meg for her tireless devotion and the extraordinary contributions serving in both positions, and wish George and Michael the best of luck in their new roles. They both bring a wealth of operational expertise, leadership and passion to these roles, which will contribute to the success of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts."
There is a further cascade effect of promotions to fill positions upward. Colglazier's role will be handed to Josh D'Amaro, currently head of Adventures by Disney. Claire Bilby, who filled in on short notice as Senior Vice President and General Manager of Disney Vacation Club after the abrupt dismissal of Jim Lewis, will be moving overseas to assume a position as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Disneyland Paris and Europe. With the moves of D'Amaro and Bilby, the combined role of Senior Vice President and General Manager of Disney Vacation Club and Adventures by Disney will be filled by Ken Potrock, who has been Senior Vice President of Disney Sports Enterprises and Downtown Disney in Florida. Potrock's position will be filled by Tom Wolber, currently Senior Vice President of Disney Cruise Line.
This is seen by some as a chance to try out some additional executives to see how they fare in new roles in preparation for expected changes coming in 2015 with the announced retirement of Disney President and CEO Bob Iger and the (at present) expected succession of Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs to the CEO role. Staggs will need to decide who should fill his current role, and the current line is that it would be either Crofton or President of New Vacation Operations and Disney Cruise Line Karl Holz, who oversees DCL, Disney Vacation Club, and Adventures by Disney, and reports directly to Staggs. Other executives would then further backfill up the chain in the wake of that transition.
When Walt Disney World began the full roll-out of its Next Generation technology last month, we noted that it was expected that the RFID cards being used for the system were expected to soon be replaced with the MagicBands that we first reported on in October. It looks the the time has come.
Last Monday on the Disney Parks Blog, Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs announced the new "MyMagic+" system, which will incorporate MagicBands, guest room access, theme park tickets, PhotoPass cards, room charge cards, the Fastpass+ system, and the My Disney Experience website and mobile app.
The MyMagic+ system will include Annual Passholders, as well as guests purchasing photography packages. All other guests will continue to use the RFID cards unless they opt to purchase a MagicBand.
We've read concerns that Disney will use the data to track guests' whereabouts throughout the park. That likelihood is improbable at best. The amount of data being tracked to make the system work as announced is tremendous, and the possibility that Disney would actually be interested in where a specific individual was at any given time is infinitesimal. A more probable use of all of the data collected is to gather the Fastpass requests for each attraction to ensure that only a maximum number of Fastpass tickets is issued for each time increment and to determine typical crowd flow patterns to better address capacity needs and crowd management.
As we understand it, all data analysis will be conducted with scrubbed data; that is, data that has been cleansed of personally identifying information (PII). The protection and use of PII is a topic that is much discussed in Information Technology circles. While guest names and celebrations might be used (via an opt-in selection by adult members of the party) to allow cast members and characters to have a more personal interaction with guests, Disney is more interested in the aggregate information, such as crowds and trends, that will help them to better plan future improvements. Any more personal use would probably be on an opt-in basis.
Currently Fastpass+ only allows guests to select three attractions in advance per day, and they may not be able to select additional Fastpass tickets during the day. If that becomes standard and all guests will only be allowed to get three Fastpass tickets per day (in advance or at centralized kiosks, with the dispensers at the attractions being removed), that would put more people into the queues, which are incidentally being outfitted with more interactive aspects. It's still uncertain as to the net effect that all of this additional technology will have on park touring strategies, but it will certainly be interesting to follow. Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org to help us keep our listings updated.
Shrugging off heat warnings, more than 25,000 runners took on the Walt Disney World Marathon yesterday, with Brazilian Adriano Bastos reclaiming the crown after being beaten by countryman and training partner Fredison Costa the last two years. Bastos won his seventh Disney Marathon in the past nine years, his eighth in 11 years. He has said that his goal is to win 10 Walt Disney World Marathons. No other runner has won more than two. Bastos missed the race entirely due to an injury in 2004, placed 15th in 2010 due to a stomach illness, and was outrun by Costa (by 14 seconds) last year.
As with last year, Bastos and Costa ran together for nearly the entire race, with Bastos pulling it out in a sprint in the last half mile. Bastos finished in 2:21:16, 16 seconds ahead of Costa. The women's standings saw a repeat winner as well, as last year's winner, Renee High of Virginia Beach, Virginia, won her second straight Disney marathon in 2:48:30, three seconds faster than last year.
On Saturday, the Hanson-Brooks Distance Project once again dominated the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, with runners from the Michigan team winning both the men's and women's division of the race. Mike Morgan of Rochester Hills, Michigan, finished in 1:05:26 to set a new course record, while teammate Melissa White of Shelby Township, Michigan, finished in 1:14:56 to take the women's crown. In all, more than 27,000 runners took on the race, including a Los Angeles woman completing her 52nd half marathon in 52 weeks after being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect, and a Chicago couple that renewed their vows during the weekend after being married during the 2003 Walt Disney World Marathon.
A record 65,000 runners participated in the weekend's events, including 10,000 who attemped the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, a combination of both the half-marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday.
Congratulations to Team MousePlanet's runners this year, who all completed their races, with some of whom setting personal records: Kevin Krock (Half Marathon, Personal Record), Jeff Moxley (Half Marathon), Alex Stroup (Marathon), Lani Teshima (Half Marathon, Personal Record), Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix (Half Marathon), and Stephanie Wien (Goofy Challenge).
The Boulangerie Patisserie bakery at Epcot's France pavilion has grown up and moved out. The quaint shop could no longer handle the demand for its wares, and so a new location has opened at the exit to the Impressions de France theater. The new Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie still sports two serving lines, but features a much larger space where a traditional Disney serpentine queue allows more patrons to wait without spilling out into the pavilion's small side street.
The new location also offers an extended menu. Offerings now include soups, sandwiches, salads, and additional authentic French dishes. Even more exciting for Epcot guests is the fact that the new location opens at 9 a.m. each morning, prior to the 11 a.m. opening of World Showcase. This will allow guests to head further into World Showcase before the pavilions officially open and get a great French pastry for breakfast.
Now that the new boulangerie has opened, the smaller shop that it formerly occupied has closed and will be remade into an ice cream shop called Glacier. We do not currently have a projected opening date for this, but it's a good bet that Glacier will not be serving breakfast.
Tables in Wonderland, the discount dining program available to Annual Passholders and Florida residents, is hosting another Discovery Dinner in January.
Thursday, January 17, sees another Discovery Dinner at The Wave… of American Flavors at the Contemporary Resort, with a 6:30 p.m. reception and 7:00 p.m. dinner. The $110 price includes tax and gratuity. Appetizers are be paired with wine during the reception, and dinner features an appetizer, salad, entree and dessert, and each course will be paired with wine. This month's dinner showcases Cahaba Clubs Herbal Outpost in Odessa, Florida. Wines are from Stacole Fine Wines, hosted by Chris Doncsecz. The event is limited to 46 attendees.
Dishes during the reception include Chive-tied Crepe Bundles with Smoked Salmon and Lemon Crème Fraîche; Wild Boar with Parsnip Purée and Chive Oil; and Roasted Vegetable Terrine with Goat Cheese, paired with Iron Horse Fairy Tale Cuvée from Sonoma County, California. Dinner starts with an appetizer of Oyster Rockefeller Soup with Big Bayou, Apalachicola Bay Oysters, paired with Spy Valley Pinot Noir from Marlborough, New Zealand. Warwick Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc from Stellenbosch, South Africa, is paired with a salad course of Micro Green Salad with Red Oak, Green Oak, Red Sticks of Fire, Yellow and Green Pea Shoots, Tiny Heirloom Tomatoes, and Ice Wine Vinaigrette.
The Apple Cider Braised Pork Belly with Naturally Raised Pork Tenderloin entree with Anson Mills Risotto Oats and Micro “Bulls Blood” Beet Greens is paired with Pulenta Estate La Flor Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. A cheese course of Cabot Cheddar, Pecorino Romano, and English Stilton Blue is paired with Torbreck Woodcutter’s Shiraz from Barossa Valley, Australia. A dessert sampler of Fennel Scented Caramel Apple Crepes, Cinnamon Basil Ice Cream, and Vanilla-Thyme Shortbread is paired with Gruet Blanc de Noirs from Albuquerque New Mexico.
Dress is casual evening attire.
To request a reservation to the event, visit the event website for self-booking and instant confirmation. You will need your Tables in Wonderland ticket number, the first and last name of everyone in your party (maximum of 8), your home address, phone number, credit card number, the billing address of the credit card, personal email address, and special dietary needs (if any). Reservations are first-come, first-served.
Across from where Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats were located in Adventureland now sits a treasure chest, intended for the Pirates Adventure: Jewels of the Seven Seas interactive adventure. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Prior to its closing for refurbishment, the biggest concern had been falling concrete from the mountain—apparently due to landscaping sprinkler systems—which necessitated covering the load/unload area with fabric to protect cast members and guests. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
The following is a listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
While landscaping hasn't been completed, Typhoon Lagoon has re-opened with a major road widening on the exit lanes. Prior, guests wanting to make a left hand turn blocked any traffic from exiting. Now that lane has been extended greatly. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
…With the latest update of its website, it appears that Walt Disney World has discontinued the ability to purchase some ticket options online, though the official pricing facts sheet still lists them as available. Not available online are the No Expiration Option on Magic Your Way passes and annual passes for Water Parks and DisneyQuest (both separately and combined). At this point, it's not clear whether this is a prelude to discontinuing these tickets, a temporary website conversion issue, or a new requirement for these options to be purchased on site rather than online. If we receive more information on this, we'll let you know.
…The latest Limited Time Magic promotion has been announced. From today through this coming Sunday, Epcot's Canada pavilion will be home to some of Disney's "snow"-making machines, as it will turn into Winter Wonderland for the week. The "snow" will fly at a new character greeting location that will be open from 10:30 a.m. to 2:10 p.m. and again from 3:05 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. As always, information can be found on the Disney Parks Blog, on the Limited Time Magic website, on Twitter using hashtag #LimitedTimeMagic, and right here in the weekly Walt Disney World Resort Update.
…As part of the shift to MyMagic+, Disney has increased the window for online resort check-in from 10 days to 60 days.
…Disney has introduced a new Discover Disney ticket for Florida residents. The three-day version costs $119 plus tax ($126.74), while the four-day pass costs $129 plus tax (137.39). Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More Options can be added for $28.50 plus tax ($30.35) each, or $57 plus tax ($60.71) for both. Ticket pricing is for all guests age 3 and older. There is no separate child pricing due to the already-steep discount. Tickets may be purchased from now through June 3, and may be used to enter the parks through June 7 with the exception of Easter peak from March 23 through April 5. Proof of Florida residency is required for each adult age 18 and older. For more information and to purchase these tickets online, please visit the special discount web page.
…The latest discount from La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil offers 35 percent discounts on Category 3 tickets to Florida emergency first responders. Discounted tickets are $48.75 plus tax ($51.92) for adults and $39.00 plus tax (41.54), and become available starting Thursday for shows January 29 through March 9. Florida residents can also purchase category 2 tickets at 25 percent off, with adult tickets costing $69.75 plus tax (74.28) and child tickets running $55.50 plus tax (59.11). More information and ticket purchasing are available at the the show's website, or by phone at 407-WDW-SEAT (407-939-7328).
…We are hearing that the Tomorrowland Terrace will open for breakfast during the closure of the Main Street Bakery as it is remade into a Starbucks location.
A new snack kiosk at Epcot now stands close to pin trading station in the center of Future World. While looking better than the amalgamation of snack carts previously, it is not always utilized. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
…Registration for the featured events of the February 22–24, fifth annual Princess Half Marathon Weekend are full, including the individual and team Half Marathons, the Race Retreat, the Pasta in the Park Party and the ChEAR Squad Platinum Package. The Royal Family 5K is 64 percent full, the post-5K breakfast is 84 percent full, and the runDisney Kids Races are 74 percent full (dashes sold out, Mickey Mile 51 percent full). ChEAR Squad is 76 percent full overall, with ChEAR Squad Gold 75 percent full and Silver less than 50 percent full.
…Registration is now open for the 2013 Expedition Everest Challenge. The Challenge is now 51 percent full. 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 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 March 22, except January 18-20. Passholders can book this discount through the day of arrival if rooms are still available.
Guests will receive 35 percent off at select Deluxe and Deluxe Villas Resorts, 30 percent off at select Moderate Resorts, and 25 percent off at select Value resorts. Moderate and Value Resorts have additional blackout dates.
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 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) 939-1895 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code S6Z. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
You can now can book room-only and Magic Your Way package reservations at select Walt Disney World resorts for 15 to 30 percent off of standard rates most nights from February 18 through June 14, except March 24 through April 1. You must book your reservations by March 7 for nights through March 23 and March 31 for nights through June 14.
Guests can receive 30 percent off at all Deluxe and Deluxe Villas Resorts, except for all Magic Kingdom resorts (Disney's Polynesian Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney's Wilderness Lodge and the Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge), which offer 20 percent off, and Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas, which is not available at a discount. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge only offers the discount for Standard-view rooms.
25 percent discounts are available at all 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 20 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.
If you add minimum 4-day Magic Your Way tickets to your room to make it a package, you will receive discounts on both your room and tickets.
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) 939-1283 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 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.
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.
(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.