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News and Views

Big Thunder lawsuit

On October 5, Jaime and Carmen Torres filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of themselves and the estate of their son, Marcelo Torres. Marcelo Torres was killed in the September 2003 accident on Disneyland's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Additional suits were filed by Vicente Gutierrez, Marcelo Torres' best friend, and five members of the Van De Keere family, citing physical and emotional injuries suffered during and after the accident.


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The suits were filed in Orange County Superior Court, and name the Walt Disney World Co., the Walt Disney Company, and 300 additional Johns Doe. The lawsuits seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

For a detailed analysis of the final incident report about this accident, see our Big Thunder Mountain coverage page (link).

Note: MousePlanet's breaking-news coverage of the accident was selected as a finalist in the 2004 Online Journalism Award, presented by the Online News Association and the USC Annenberg School for Communication, in its “Breaking News — Small Sites” category. See the complete text of our press release here.

And a good time was had by all

MousePlanet's 9th MouseAdventure event was held this weekend, and as we are gratified to be able to say each time, it was our biggest event ever. Over 350 participants from 117 teams competed in a series of quests around Disney's California Adventure. MousePlanet will have complete coverage of the event later this week.

DisneyTXT trial

Visitors to Disney's California Adventure this weekend were handed a slip of paper inviting them to try the "Disney TXT" service. By sending a text message from their cell phones to the number provided, visitors registered to receive up to 8 text messages during their DCA visit. MousePlanet staff member Jeff Moxley tested the system this weekend, and reported on the types of messages he received.

Here are the messages I received throughout the day after signing up for
the Disney text messaging service.

Message #1 (1:40pm):
Welcome to DisneyTXT! We'll send a max of 8 messages 2day, with news &
GR8 offers! U can stop receiving messages at any time by replying STOP.
Enjoy your visit!

Message #2 (1:40pm):
DisneyTXT: We can send more relevant info if we know the age of the
youngest person with U. Reply with their age. E.g if the youngest person
is 6, just reply 6.

Message #3 (1:44pm after replying 6):
DisneyTXT: Thanks for replying with an age. You will now receive park
tips throughout today based off the age you have provided. Enjoy!

Message #4 (1:56pm):
DisneyTXT: Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is a great place for children
to burn off excess energy. Plus see Koda and Kenai (check show times).

I then went back and replied to the age request again with 30 and
received message #3 again (2:43pm). I then received the following
message twice.

Message #5 (3:26pm & 3:27pm):
DisneyTXT: OFFER (# 70) - 10% off purchases of 50 or more @ Gone
Hollywood. Offer only valid 10/09/04. Restrictions apply. C store 4 details.

Message #6 (8:26pm):
DisneyTXT: Buy 2 pretzels & get 1 FREE! @ Wetzel's Pretzels in Downtown
Disney. Offer not valid with other discounts or prev purch. Offer only
valid 10/08/04.

With the age change and the duplicate message that was a total of 8
messages received, as promised.

The next day, Jeff received an offer for 10% off a purchase at Pizza Oom Mow Mow, "priority seating" for "It's Tough to Be a Bug," and "priority viewing" for Disney's Electrical Parade.

The new faces of Disneyland

In a ceremony last week, Andrae Rivas and Rebecca Phelps were named as the 2005 Disneyland Resort Ambassadors. Rivas and Phelps are the first Ambassador team to serve since 2000-2001, when Doina Roman-Osborn and Heri “Eddie” Garcia served 18-month terms during the grand opening of Disney's California Adventure. The pair begins training in their new duties by the end of the month, and officially take over from current Ambassador Becky Murphy on Jan. 1, 2005.


2005 Disneyland Ambassador Rebecca Phelps. Photo courtesy of Disney.


2005 Disneyland Ambassador Andrae Rivas. Photo courtesy of Disney.

The Ambassador Program was founded in 1965, during Disneyland's 10-year celebration. Walt Disney discovered that he needed someone to help represent Disneyland when he could not attend an event. Julie Reihm was selected to represent Disneyland at anniversary ceremonies, and as a hostess to escort VIPs around Walt's Magic Kingdom. For more information about the Ambassador program, read our coverage of the 2002 Ambassador ceremony (link).

Gold medalist USA Olympic swimmers splash down Main Street


Six-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps makes a splash on Main Street, Disneyland, together with Olympic champions Lenny Krayzelburg and Ian Crocker. The three gold medalists competed in a relay-race with school children in a full length Olympic pool built especially for the event in less than 24 hours! Photo by Scott Brinegar/Disney.

Michael Phelps, Lenny Krayzelburg and Ian Crocker ended their 12-city cross-country tour at the Happiest Place on Earth, participating in a first-ever “swim meet” on Main Street, U.S.A. Read MousePlanet's coverage of the event from last week (link).

Holiday Bring-a-Friend ticket

December 1 through 18, Disneyland resort passholders can purchase 1-day park hopper tickets for the same price as a 1-day, 1-park ticket. Limit 5 tickets per person, per day, with valid passport. Admission must be used on day of purchase.

Ears to the ground

...In last week's update, we forgot to mention the Dining Patch program for Fall 2004. As part of the Haunted Mansion Holiday theme, the French Market and Cafe Orleans are distributing a series of 13 fabric patches with each $25 purchase at the restaurant. The patches are released each Sunday through the duration of the overlay. Note: the Disneyland Web site says that the required purchase is $20.

…Cast members tell us that Club Libby Lu, Downtown Disney's newest tenant, is soft-opening today, October 11. The store's official grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, October 16. The store offers makeovers and parties for girls (link)


Disneyland's new gift card program may make it easier to stuff the stocking of your favorite Disneyland fan. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

…The Disneyland Resort is introducing merchandise gift cards in November. The cards work just like regular store gift cards, and can be used at merchandise locations around the resort. At least initially, the card will not be valid at food locations, or for hotel accommodations. Cards are available from $5 - $1500, and can be recharged.

…Imagineers were seen taking measurements inside the World of Disney store last week; cast members tell us the store will soon offer print-on-demand posters. It is unclear whether the store will receive the existing printers from the recently closed Premiere Shop, the larger-format printers from the Disney Gallery, or a completely new offering.


The Disneyland Gazette frame gives people a way to display the collection of blue tarp photos from their vacation. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

…In an effort to boost sagging photo sales, Disneyland has created a special “Disneyland Gazette” frame for photos taken in front of the castle. The “headline” on the Gazette reads, “Special Guests Witness Castle Transformation,” presumably to explain why the folks in the photo are posing in front of a blue tarp. The Disneyland Web site has been updated with a photo of the castle in its current state, so visitors know what to expect when they arrive.


A sample of the new color scheme being applied to the castle. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

...The Disneyland Web site and winter Passholder newsletter have a few new offers for Disneyland Annual passholders and the general public.

  • Annual passholders can pick up a free The Incredibles Halloween Trick-or-Treat Bag at Disneyland or Disney's California Adventure. Show a valid annual pass and pick up a free bag at the Bank of Main Street in Disneyland, the Guest Relations Lobby at Disney's California Adventure park, or World of Disney in the Downtown Disney.
  • Annual passholders can purchase tickets to the Walk in Walt's Footsteps tour for a discounted rate of $39 per person. The offer is valid through November 18, and there is a limit of 5 tickets per passholder.
  • Annual passholders receive an extra 20 percent off any purchase at the Illuminations store in Downtown Disney for the month of October.
  • Through December 31, 2004, passholders can purchase a commemorative 50th anniversary brick to be placed in the esplanade between Disneyland and DCA, and receive a $50 discount off the regular price of $150. The special brick features a brass-toned medallion with the 50th anniversary logo.
  • Disneyland is offering a 50% discount on the pictoral souvenir books, while supplies last. A new souvenir guide book is scheduled to be released in 2005.
  • Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen's will be hosting their 2nd annual gingerbread house-building workshops in December. Tickets are $45 per party of two, ($10 for each additional person in your group). Participants will receive building supplies, refreshments, jingle bell, t-shirt, and a photo with Santa.The workshops on December 15 & 16 are reserved for passholders; workshops on December 11, 12, 18 and 19 are open to the general public. All workshops are from 1-3 p.m. Call (714) 776-5200 for reservations.
  • The World of Disney store is offering scrapbooking demonstrations, Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • January AP rates at the Disneyland Resort, starting at $79 per night at Paradise Pier hotel. Promotion valid Sunday - Thursday for arrivals January 2 - 31, 2005. Additional restrictions apply. Call 714-956-MICKEY to book.

Got any interesting news or rumors? Contact us here.

Current Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Disneyland

Note: Disneyland is progressively closing more and more attractions as the park readies for its 50th anniversary celebration in 2005.


The pathway in front of the Matterhorn into Tomorrowland is completely blocked off. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

  • Jungle Cruise closed October 11–15.
  • “it's a small world” closes October 18 – November 4.
  • Matterhorn Bobsleds closed through November 23.
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle closed through November 23.
  • Sailing Ship Columbia closed through November 30.
  • Fantasmic on hiatus through November during the Sailing Ship Columbia refurbishment.
  • Aladdin's Oasis closed through March 11, 2005.
  • Plaza Pavilion closed through March 11, 2005.
  • Enchanted Tiki Room closed through March 11, 2005.
  • Space Mountain closed through November 2005.
  • Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through closed indefinitely; not listed on park maps or the Disneyland Web site.


Construction fences continue down towards “it's a small world,” obstructing the view of Fantasia Gardens. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

Upcoming Disneyland closures

  • Haunted Mansion closes January 10–25, 2005 to remove Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay.


The Disney Gallery and surrounding stores are the next recipients of the rolling refurbishment. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

Disney's California Adventure


Construction continues on the Matterhorn. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

Upcoming DCA closures

  • Maliboomer reduced capacity (2 of 3 towers operating) November 1–25, 2004, and January 3–22, 31 – March 12, 2005.
  • Jumpin' Jellyfish reduces capacity January 21 – March 5, 2005.


Major refurbishment work continues on the Sailing Ship Columbia. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix

Note: Refurbishment schedules are estimates only. All information is subject to change without notice. To get the most recent updates, call Disneyland at (714) 781-7290.


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