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News and Views

Brian Bennett moving on – It is with great sadness that we have to report that Brian Bennett has decided that the time has come for him to move away from the Internet for now. In his own words:

I first started my original Web site, Brian Bennett's Disney Trip Planning Resource Net, back in 1996. The site, which shared WDW trip planning information and a good-sized archive of trip reports, grew and grew over the years. Eventually I joined up with MousePlanet so that my audience could be expanded even further.

I've really enjoyed my time on the Web, but unfortunately, there comes a time in every endeavor where one must take evaluate the situation and determine how, or if, to proceed. Recently I came to just such a point. As a result of some turns of events in my life, and a strong desire to be the very best husband and father I can be, I've decided to take a sabbatical from MousePlanet. I am not leaving MousePlanet to join up with any other Web site. Rather, I'm taking time off to spend with my family.

At this point, I don't have any timetable for my return. Mike Scopa has agreed to carry on the maintainance of the WDW trip planning pages that I'd originally written. I'm sure Mike and Sue, and other new columnists that MousePlanet will surely add and provide great information for WDW trip planners across the world.

Keep on sending in those trip reports, too! MousePlanet has an archive of trip reports that dates back to the early 1990s and which is approaching 1000 in number. Trip report fans will enjoy stopping at MousePlanet for a long time to come, I'm sure.

I have truly enjoyed my time with MousePlanet. The folks here are professionals and do a tremendous job (including many that are behind-the-scenes and that most readers never hear about). I'll miss them all very much.

Enough said. I'll see you all around, I'm sure. I may stop in to visit MousePad on occasion, I'll certainly be stopping in when I'm preparing for my own upcoming trips, too, and I'm sure that when I do so, it will be with misty eyes.

We'll miss you too, Brian.

We want assure our readers that if Brian at any point decides that he is ready to return, that the door will be wide open. For now, everybody should continue doing what they've been doing. The “brian-at-mouseplanet.com” address will continue to exist for now, and will be monitored by Mike Scopa and Alex Stroup. The Trip Report Archive will continue to be an important part of what we offer here at MousePlanet, and report writers can continue to send their reports to “brian-at-mouseplanet.com” or begin sending to “alex-at-mouseplanet.com”.

Houston, we have movement – The first job posting to be on the opening crew for Mission: Space, in Epcot's Future World, have been posted internally for Disney World cast members. Dates aren't to be announced for at least another week, but based on a normal schedule for such things, this would tend to indicate that Mission: Space will not open until at least June.

Art soothes the savage beast - The newest Art of Disney store will open at Disney's Animal Kingdom park on Tuesday, April 1. Sculptor Robert King from Harmony Kingdom is meeting visitors at the store from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. that morning. An exclusive Mickey Safari Harmony Kingdom box will be available at the store.

Advance tickets now available for Night of Joy 2003 in Magic Kingdom Park – Advance tickets are now available for Night of Joy 2003 featuring performances in Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom Park by 16 contemporary Christian music acts including such often-honored performers as Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay, Kirk Franklin and Point of Grace on Sept. 5 and Sept. 6.

Disney announces new cancellation policy – The following cancellation policy information regarding the Disneyland Resort, Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Cruise Line is being provided in an effort to help guests that may be apprehensive about their travel plans.

Now through April 18, guests who have vacation packages to Disneyland or Walt Disney World with an arrival prior to June 2 can change or cancel their land- based arrangements without penalty. The temporary policy applies to new and existing bookings made through the Walt Disney Travel Company, Disney Central Reservation Offices or online. For guests who have booked a Walt Disney World Resort room-only vacation, the penalty is waived for arrivals through April 23 if the room is canceled before April 18. For those that have booked a Disneyland Resort room-only vacation, the penalty is waived for arrivals through April 21 if the room is canceled before April 18.

Any deposit or full payment that has been submitted for package or room-only vacations will be fully refunded provided you change or cancel your vacation before April 18. As a rule, Disney cannot waive cancellation penalties for third-party products such as airline tickets, rental cars, or non-Disney-owned resorts. Have your travel agent check with those suppliers directly to learn their separate cancellation policies.

Orlando Rays Begin Fourth and Final Season at WDW Resort April 11 – The Orlando Rays, the Class AA affiliate of Major League Baseball's Tampa Bay Devil Rays, are set to play their fourth and final season at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in 2003. The Rays will play 70 Southern League home games at the sports complex throughout the spring and summer (April 11 through September 1).

Under the direction of first-year manager Charlie Montoyo, the Rays will play two home series in April. The squad opens the season with a four-game series against the Tennessee Smokies (April 11 through 13). The Huntsville Stars then come to town for another four-game series at Disney, April 14 through 17.

Rays games at Disney's Wide World of Sports will give fans the chance to see professional baseball up close, and catch a glimpse of future Major League Baseball stars, including highly touted outfielder Josh Hamilton, the top pick of the 1999 MLB draft.

The Rays' promotional schedule includes various season ticket packages and special themed game nights featuring giveaways and post-game fireworks. Information on ticket packages and group tickets is available by calling 407/939-GAME. Individual tickets $8 (lower reserved) and $5 (bleacher and general admission lawn) may be purchased at the Disney's Wide World of Sports box office and through Ticketmaster at (407) 839-3900. Note: Most game times are at 7:05 p.m, except for April 13 at 1:35 p.m. and April 17 at 11:05 a.m.

The 10th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival at the Walt Disney World Resort is the perfect way to celebrate spring with more than 30 million blooms setting the stage with fun and surprises for everyone. From April 25 through June 8, the six-week outdoor extravaganza showcases more than 100 Disney topiaries, 1000 plant species from around the world, millions of blooms, and tons of take-home ideas featured in signature topiary and horticulture displays, as well as guided tours, garden presentations, and events.

After a day filled with fun in the sun, guests can enjoy the nightly Flower Power concert series. Performers like Davy Jones, The Turtles, Paul Revere & The Raiders, Herman's Hermits featuring Peter Noone, Arlo Guthrie are among a festival-long lineup of 14 acts that will feature live music from the '60s and '70s. Kids also will love the cool activities in store for them at Disney's Doggone Maze, with topiaries featuring favorite Disney dogs, a play area and more. In addition, Disney horticulturists and visiting experts will be on hand to share gardening tips and demonstrate new backyard planting ideas.

Another festival highlight includes Mother's Day weekend brunch. The Epcot World ShowPlace (the Pavilion between U.K. and Canada) hosts the popular Mother's Day Brunch on both Saturday, May 10 and Sunday, May 11. The location will be decked out in greenery to bring the outdoors in and a master culinary team of chefs will be on hand to create delightful cuisine right before the guests' eyes.

The brunch features flavorful foods prepared with herbs, spices, and flowers. Featured menu items include breads and pastries, fruit and cereals, omelets and eggs prepared to order, waffles, bacon, sausage, banana-stuffed cinnamon raisin French toast, prime rib, carved adobo marinated pork loin, grilled salmon, baked chicken, pasta prepared to order, assorted salads and breads, chef's selection of vegetables and potatoes, plus a wide variety of cakes, pies, cobblers, cookies and brownies. Brunch seatings include: 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 12 p.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 11.

Prices for the Mother's Day Weekend brunch are $29.99 plus tax for guests 12 and up (gratuity included), and $12.99 plus tax for guests ages 3 through 11 (gratuity included) space is limited. Call (407) WDW-DINE for priority seating. All Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival activities except guided tours and brunches are included in regular Epcot admission.


Current Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

The Blizzard Beach water park refurbishment, originally scheduled to end on March 2, has been extended through Wednesday, April 9, 2003.

Cinderella's Golden Carousel will be closed for refurbishment through April 4.

Main Street Plaza Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom is closed for refurbishment through Sunday, April 6, 2003.

The Shipwreck Slide, located at Stormalong Bay at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resort, is closed for refurbishment January 3 through April 4, 2003. The pool areas at Stormalong Bay remains open while the pool slide undergoes refurbishment.

The Theater in Epcot's China Pavilion closes for refurbishment March 26 - May 22. The Gallery, merchandise shop and restaurants will continue to operate.

Great Movie Ride at Disney-MGM Studio is closed for refurbishment February 24 - April 13.


Park Events

Upcoming events

April 25 through June 8 - 10th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

May 15 through 18 - 5th Annual Celebration of Walt Disney Art Classics cruise and mini-convention aboard the Disney Wonder

May 16 - June 15 -Star Wars Weekends. Get more information in Brian Bennett's WDW Trip Planning Guide on Star Wars Weekends.

June 3 through June 9 - Gay Days 2003. This unofficial event is not sponsored by Disney. Event information can be obtained from the event sponsor.

June 14, 2003 - Mickey's Toon Town of Pins at the Magic Kingdom

September 19-21, 2003 - Disney's Pin Celebration at Epcot

November 16-20, 2003 - Pin Trading Cruise aboard the Disney Wonder


Current Discounts & Promotions

Annual Passholders can receive 10% off the price of their lunch meal at selected Walt Disney World Resort hotel restaurants - and the discount is good for up to three guests. The offer is valid Monday - Friday. Call 407-WDW-Dine for locations and reservations.


Park Hours

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
3/31
4/1
4/2
4/3
4/4
4/5
 

MK 9a-8p
EF 9a-6p

EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB Closed
TL 10a-5p

MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB Closed
TL 10a-5p
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB Closed
TL 10a-5p
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB Closed
TL 10a-5p
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB Closed
TL 10a-5p
MK 9a-8p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB Closed
TL 10a-5p
4/6
4/7
4/8
4/9
4/10
4/11
4/12
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB Closed
TL 10a-6p

MK 9a-8:30p
EF 9a-6p

EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB Closed
TL 10a-6p

MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB Closed
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-8:30p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-9p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
4/13
4/14
  • MK = Magic Kingdom
  • EF = Epcot, Future World
  • EW = Epcot, World Showcase
  • MGM = Disney-MGM Studios
  • AK = Animal Kingdom
  • BB = Blizzard Beach Water Park
  • TL = Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
MK 9a-10p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-7p
BB 9a-6p
TL 9a-6p

MK 9a-11p
EF 9a-7p

EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-10p
AK 9a-7p
BB 9a-6p
TL 9a-6p


Entertainment Schedule

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 3/31

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 8p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars & Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic! 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Tuesday 4/1

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 7:15p

Illuminations! 9p

 

Disney Stars & Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic! 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Wednesday 4/2

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 7:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars & Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic! 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Thursday 4/3

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 7:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars & Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic! 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Friday 4/4

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 7:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars & Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic! 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Saturday 4/5

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 7:15p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 8p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars & Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic! 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Sunday 4/6

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars & Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic! 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Monday 4/7

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 8:30p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars & Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic! 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p


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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.