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News and Views

Calling all Cypress Gardens annual passholders – Holders of Cypress Gardens annual passes can get free one-day admission to the Flower & Garden Show at Epcot.

Vivendi cutting losses? It was widely reported this week that Vivendi Universal is in serious talks to sell its theme park division (which includes five parks in Orlando, Hollywood, Spain, and Japan) to Blackstone Partners, a New York investment firm.

Blackstone already owns 50 percent of the Florida resort, and analysts expect the purchase would be an investment, not an expectation of long-term ownership. Meaning it would resell the theme park division when the economy and amusement-park industry improve.

Although no short-term changes to the parks would be expected, some interesting questions would arise. For example, there would no longer be any inherent connection between the theme parks and the studio for which they are named, and yet, the Hollywood park would still be in a working Universal Studios backlot.

In addition to full ownership of the Hollywood and Orlando parks, Blackstone would be purchasing minority interests in Universal's Japanese theme park, and Universal Mediterranea near Barcelona.

Disney Half Marathon: We told you it wouldn't last long – This is probably your last chance to register for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Due to popular demand, capacity for the Half Marathon was increased from 5500 to 8500 participants. As of May 1, 8000 athletes have registered for the Half Marathon, so leaves just a few hundred spots left for this popular event.

Currently, 9200 athletes have registered for the Marathon, which has a capacity of 16,000 participants. If you have friends of family who wish to participate, encourage them to register as soon as possible at disneyworldsports.com.

Maybe you just wanna watch—and help—instead – Make sure to register early if you want to be a volunteer. All the great jobs (such as giving out finisher's medals and Mylar space blankets) fill fast. Charles Wait, who has been both a volunteer and participant in the Disney Marathon, says:

I volunteered for the 2003 marathon and had a blast. I was stationed at the entrance to Epcot. The entrance area was a mess. WDW security less than helpful. I am glad that I had worked a few other big races in the past and we eventually sorted everything out. I think it went well except that the entrance to Epcot will be a pinch point for the mid- packers as long as the race is as large as it is.

For the full marathon runners, I was the gray-headed, cherubic guy standing on the corner of a planter to mark the unprotected corner just in front of the entrance turnstiles. I was high-fiving runners and yelling good morning.

The best way to get a jump on the good volunteer jobs is to sign up as a Disney Sports Enthusiast. Select the various sports activities you are interested in, and Disney will notify you as soon as they start taking sign-ups for specific events.

Maybe you can try a much shorter distance – Disney Sports has opened up registration for its fifth annual Disney's 10K Classic, to be held Sunday, October 12, 2003.

Open to runners 11 years and older, participants must be able to maintain 15-minute per mile pace. Those who cannot maintain that pace are escorted to the finish line.

The 10K starts in the Epcot parking lot at 7:00 a.m., then proceeds into Epcot through Future World, then the World Showcase, exiting at the International gateway, around the Boardwalk then out onto the highway, and finishing at the Wide World of Sports Complex. (Kind of like the last 10K of the Marathon without Disney Studios.)

Entry fees:

  • $25 received by October 4
  • $30 received October 5-12

There are two ways to register:

All 10K runners will receive a commemorative race T-Shirt.

For a VERY short period – Last week we reported that beginning April 27, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon would be starting a new split operating schedule that would only have both water parks open on Wednesdays. We also reported that it was unknown how long this new schedule would last. Not very long, as it turned out. At the last second, Disney management sent out notification to cast members that these plans were cancelled and that both parks would be keeping normal operating hours. This wasn't soon enough to prevent some cast members from sending guests to Blizzard Beach, under the belief that Typhoon Lagoon was closed.

Golf architect for WDW courses dies – Noted golf architect Joe Lee died last week at age 81 after a long career designing some of the nation's top courses, including the Magnolia, Palm, and Lake Buena Vista courses at Walt Disney World.


Current Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

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

Great Movie Ride at Disney-MGM Studio closed for refurbishment on February 24. The ride was scheduled to return on April 13, but the closure has been extended through June 29.


Park Events

Upcoming events

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

May 15 through 18 - Fifth 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

The Radisson Resort Parkway, a MousePlanet sponsor hotel, is offering great rates to MousePlanet readers through December, 2003. Sample rates for selected dates and rooms are listed below. To take advantage of these special rates, make your reservations using the link found on this page.

Date

Courtyard View
Weekdays
(S - Th)

Courtyard View
Weekends
(F, Sa)
Pool View
Weekdays
(S - Th)
Pool View
Weekends
(F, Sa)
4/27 - 6/4
$63
$73
$73
$83
6/5 - 6/7
$109 (all days)
$119 (all days)
6/8 - 8/9
$73
$83
$83
$93
8/10 - 8/30
$63
$73
$73
$83
8/31 - 10/2
$59 (all days)
$69 (all days)
10/3 - 11/1
$73
$83
$83
$93
11/2 - 12/18
$63
$73
$73
$83
12/19 - 12/23
$83 (all days)
$93 (all days)
12/24 - 12/31
$99 (all days)
$109 (all days)

MouseSavers.com reports some great rates for travel to Walt Disney World:

  • New hotel discount codes are available for check-ins April 27 through July 3. Sample rates range from at $74 at the All Stars, to $420 for a main lodge concierge room at the Grand Floridian. Travel must be booked by April 26. Use the discount codes found at MouseSavers.
  • Florida residents can stay on property for as little as $59 at the All Stars, $74 at moderate resorts, and $124 at Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge. These rates are valid for arrivals between April 27 and July 3, 2003.
  • Disney's Visa card holders can purchase specially priced Dream Maker packages for check-ins most nights from May 26 to August 3. You do not need to use your Disney Visa to book Disney Visa Summer packages, but you must provide your account number to qualify.
  • Delta is offering rates as low as $138 roundtrip for travel to Orlando. Purchase by April 16 for travel April17 - October 1, 2003. Some blackout dates apply.
  • Florida residents can buy a “Play 4 Days” Pass for just $116 per person. The park hopper pass is good for any four days between April 1 through September 30, 2003. (July 4 is the only day excluded)
  • Cruise Deals – MouseSavers has a list of Disney Cruise Line Magical Rates, available for departures through January 2004, and early-booking discounts for Fall 2003 itineraries.

If you are itching to break in your new Disney Visa card, you can receive a $50 onboard credit when you book a Disney Cruise Line vacation and pay with your Disney Visa. The offer is good for sailings through the end of this year. When you charge your cruise to your Disney Visa, you pay no interest for six months.

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 through Friday. Call 407-WDW-DINE for locations and reservations.


Park Hours

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
5/5
5/6
5/7
5/8
5/9
5/10
 

MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p

MK 9a-9p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-9p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
5/11
5/12
5/13
5/14
5/15
5/16
5/17
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p

MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p

MK 9a-9:30p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-9:30p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
5/18
5/19
  • 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-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p

MK 9a-7p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p


Entertainment Schedule

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 5/5

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3:00pm

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9:00p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Tuesday 5/6

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3:00p

SpectroMagic 8:30p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 9:15p

Illuminations! 9p

 

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9:00p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Wednesday 5/7

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3:00pm

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9:00p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Thursday 5/8

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3:00p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9:00p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Friday 5/9

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3:00pm

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9:00p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Saturday 5/10

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3:00p

SpectroMagic 8:30p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 9:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9:00p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Sunday 5/11

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3:00pm

 

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9:00p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Monday 5/12

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3:00pm

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9:00p

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.