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News and Views


Nemo coming out for his meet-and-greet. There is a driver in there. Photo by Jean Curtice.

Finding Nemo – according to a Disney press release, Nemo is not all that hard to find in Walt Disney World. Visitors can take photos with Nemo at the Ticket and Transportation Center. Nemo also appears in the new Finding Nemo pre-parade, just prior to the Share a Dream Come True Parade at the Magic Kingdom. The pre-parade includes Nemo gliding down the parade route along with Finding Nemo-themed floats and two walking seaweed characters. And Disney would also like you to know that Finding Nemo merchandise is available now at more than 25 locations across the Walt Disney World Resort. Wow — you won't like what you find in your credit card statement next month.


Nemo's photo spot near the Transportation Center ferry. On the left is a strand of seaweed, which apparently waves its branches about. Photo by Jean Curtice.

The Nemo you can visit is the same thing you can see at Disneyland. The big fish on a platform contains a (presumably cramped) driver who can drive Nemo about. Otherwise, interaction is minimal between the character and guests. You can take a picture with Nemo but he won't be signing autograph books. Accompanying Nemo are two strands of moving seaweed. Similar in concept to DiVine (from DCA), these two characters are people who do their best to imitate plants.

Helping to cross the communication barrier – WDW has recently started testing two new devices in the theme parks: Personal Translation Units, and Handheld Captioning Devices. These handheld units, built around iPAQ Pocket PCs, provide pre-recorded attraction narration for non-English speaking visitors, and written attraction narration for the hearing impaired.


Cast members and guests are now testing personal translation and captioning units at WDW. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

T minus ? According to two sources at Epcot, public previews of the new Mission: Space attraction, may begin as soon as this afternoon on Monday, June 9. WDW employees were allowed to experience the attraction during Cast previews last week, and we have heard reports that a few guests were randomly pulled from the park to participate in these previews. This next testing phase would allow up to 3000 guests to ride each day, most likely in the late afternoon or evening when Future World begins to close and Epcot's visitors migrate back towards World Showcase.


Mission: Space lies just beyond a temporary screen of potted trees. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

Don't call in sick just yet. Cast members tell us that Mission: Space was "having a lot of trouble" on Sunday, and Epcot Guest Relations was unable to confirm the reported soft-opening schedule. As we get more details, we'll be sure to post them here.


A cast member sports the new Mission: Space costume. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

Honey I redecorated the waiting area – The pre-show for Honey I Shrunk the Audience has new look. Instead of one large screen, there are now 14 small flat-panel screens, which play a seemingly endless commerical for Kodak. None of the screens are yet equipped to display closed captioning for the hearing impaired.


HISTA has new pre-show screens, and a longer Kodak commercial. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

New tastes for Epcot – Regular visitors to Ice Station Cool may have noticed that the Coke beverages from Brazil and Mexico are no longer served in the tasting area. Cast members say that the two flavors have been permanently removed from the beverage bar, and that two new flavors are expected to replace them later this summer.


Two new international Coke flavors are expected to appear at Epcot this summer. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

Great Movie Ride at Disney-MGM Studio closed for refurbishment on February 24. The ride was originally scheduled to return on April 13, then the closure was extended to June 29. MousePlanet confirmed that the ride finally reopened this past Saturday.

I've got a headache this big — and it's got Disney written all over it – Disney likes to keep in touch with participants for the 2004 Walt Disney World Marathon. The race planners send out a cute little newsletter every so often to let registrants know just how proud they are of them — and to remind registrants that there are still spots available, in case family members and friends also want to stagger across the finish line.

The lastest edition of the newsletter came complete with a section called “Training Tips,” otherwise known as a four-paragraph ad for Tylenol. Here's a snippet:

Active pain, such as muscle aches, sprains and strains, occasionally experienced by runners, can often go untreated. That is why the makers of TYLENOL have developed a new product that is specially formulated for the extended relief of body pains associated with active pain.

It goes on to explain how the miracle drug is made in “layers,” yadda yadda yadda. That's a training tip? Good grief, if we wanted to be inundated with blatant product placements, we'd watch reality TV.

999 Happy Haunts — and a few empty wallets – Walt Disney World has released details of the upcoming 999 Happy Haunts Ball. Three packages are available, starting with a $109.99 general admission ticket. Tickets go on sale on Monday, June 16, and are expected to sell out the same day.

Trying to best Disneyland's popular and over-the-top Haunted Mansion Dinner, WDW is offering a three-day package. For $2250, you get two nights at the Grand Floridian, five meals, and an assortment of mini-events. By Disney standards, that's almost reasonable. It's also a better value than the two-day Disneyland package, which offers one hotel night, three meals, and an artist meet and greet for the same price.

The “Phineas” Package includes:

  • Two nights' accommodation at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (10/27-28/03)*.
  • Exclusive Dining experience inside the Haunted Mansion attraction (10/27/03)
  • Plated Dining Experience (10/28/03)
  • Seminar Experience (10/28/03)
  • Haunted Dining Experience in the Graveyard of Frights at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort (10/28/03) **
  • Meet & Greet with Artists of the 999 Haunted Mansion Event Merchandise (10/28/03)
  • Breakfast in the Graveyard of Frights at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort (10/29/03)
  • Transportation between Disney's Coronado Springs Resort and Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (10/28-29/03)
  • Preferred Seating for our Haunting Live Auction and Entertainment (10/29/03)
  • Entry into Magic Kingdom (10/29/2003 after 8:00 p.m. for event only)
  • Frightful Dinner Buffet throughout Liberty Square (10/29/03)
  • Walk around entertainment and activities (10/29/03)
  • Photo opportunities (10/29/03)
  • Ride on Haunted Mansion and other attractions throughout Frontierland (10/29/03)
  • Opportunity to Pre-Purchase Limited-Edition 999 Happy Haunts Event Merchandise
  • Commemorative Gifts

    Tickets for this event package are $2250 per person. Limited to 25 Guests. No discounts will be offered in conjunction with this package.

    *Standard Accomodations; one person per room. Couples purchasing "Phineas" Event Package will be offered two additional nights' accommodations (consecutive to the first 2 nights - 10/27-29/03) in a standard room/double occupancy at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in lieu of two rooms for two nights. Subject to availability.

The “Gus” Event Package includes:

  • One night Hotel accommodation at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort (10/28/03) *
  • Seminar Experience (10/28/03)
  • Haunted Dining Experience in the Graveyard of Frights (10/28/03) **
  • Meet & Greet with Artists of the 999 Haunted Mansion Event Merchandise (10/28/03)
  • Breakfast in the Graveyard of Frights (10/29/03)
  • Preferred Seating for our Haunting Live Auction and Entertainment (10/29/03)
  • Bus transportation between Disney's Coronado Springs Resort and the Magic Kingdom
  • Entry into Magic Kingdom (on 10/29/03 after 8:00 p.m. for event)
  • Buffet dinner throughout Liberty Square (10/29/03)
  • Walk around entertainment and activities (10/29/03)
  • Photo opportunities (10/29/03)
  • Ride on Haunted Mansion and other attractions throughout Frontierland (10/29/03)
  • Opportunity to Pre-Purchase Limited-Edition 999 Happy Haunts Event Merchandise
  • Commemorative Gifts

    Tickets for this event package are $450 per person. Limited to 275 Guests. No discounts will be offered in conjunction with this package.

    *Standard Accommodations; one person per room. Couples purchasing "Gus" Event Package will be offered an additional night hotel accommodations (consecutive to the first night - 10/28/03) in a standard room/double occupancy at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in lieu of two rooms for one night. Subject to availability.

The “Ezra” Event Package includes:

  • Entry into the Live Auction/ Entertainment Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
  • Bus transportation between Disney's Coronado Springs Resort and the Magic Kingdom
  • Entry into Magic Kingdom (after 8:00 p.m. for event only)
  • Buffet dinner throughout Liberty Square
  • Walk around entertainment and activities
  • Photo opportunities
  • Ride on Haunted Mansion and other attractions throughout Frontierland
  • Opportunity to Pre-Purchase Limited-Edition 999 Happy Haunts Event Merchandise
  • Commemorative Gift

    Tickets for this portion of the event are $109.99 per person. Limited availability. No discounts will be offered in conjunction with this package.

Wild About Safety – Disney has launched a new safety awareness campaign, designed to remind visitors about personal safety issues. A “Wild About Safety” reminder is printed in the park maps, reminding visitors of four points (The comments in parenthesis are direct quotes — we couldn't make this stuff up):

  1. No stampeding. (Don't run)
  2. Keep your arms, hooves, tusks and tails inside ride vehicles. (And your hands, feet and legs)
  3. On rides, stay seated with your tail down. (You get this one, right?)
  4. Keep your paws behind the yellow line. (Don't cross the yellow line)

To make sure that some visitors pay attention (to the logo, if not necessarily the message), Disney has started placing “Wild About Safety” logo pins onto Cast pin trading lanyards.


The Big Thunder Mountain trains have been fitted with these thresholds, to help keep riders from sticking their legs out of the vehicle. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

Current Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

O Canada! is closed for refurbishment June 9 - 13, 2003.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is closed for refurbishment until June 27, 2003. Pooh's Thotful Shop will be open during this refurbishment.


Park Events

Upcoming events

May 16 - June 15 - Star Wars Weekends. Also see the May 19 Park Update: WDW column for details.

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

September 5 - 6, 2003 – Night of Joy. An evening of Contemporary Christian Music at Magic Kingdom. $35.95 for one night (all ages) or $57.95 for both nights. Buy tickets online or call (407) W-Disney.

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

October 3, 5, 10, 14, 16, 19, 24, 26, 30 and 31 – Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom.

October 18 - November 16, 2003 – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The festival is included with park admission, and wine and food samples starting from $1.50 are available from 25 countries.

October 27, 28, and 29 – Magic Kingdom's 999 Happy Haunts Ball.

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

November 28 - December 30, 2003 – Epcot Holidays Around the World.

November 30, December 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 19 - Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom. Order by phone at (407) W-DISNEY.

December 7, 2003 – Doll & Teddy Bear Weekend.

The 2003 Flower and Garden Festival closed on Sunday, ending with a concert by Arlo Guthrie. The 2004 Festival will be held April 16 through May 30, 2004.


Arlo Guthrie performs at the final concert of the 2003 Flower and Garden Festival. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.


Current Discounts & Promotions

Free 5-day Park Hopper for Active Military, as well as discounted companian tickets. Offer valid through December 19, 2003 and includes all active military personnel, including Coast Guard, as well as activated National Guard and Reservists.

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
(Sun - Thurs)

Courtyard View
Weekends
(Fri, Sat)
Pool View
Weekdays
(Sun - Thurs)
Pool View
Weekends
(Fri, Sat)
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 Fairytale Vacation Packages can mean savings of 40% or more when you visit Walt Disney World. Read all about this amazing new offer at MouseSavers.com.
  • 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.
  • 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
 
6/9
6/10
6/11
6/12
6/13
6/14
 

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-10p
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-10p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
6/15
6/16
6/17
6/18
6/19
6/20
6/21
MK 9a-8p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-6p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p

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

MK 9a-9p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-10p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
MK 9a-10p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-10p
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-10p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-10p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p
6/22
6/23
  • 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-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-9p
AK 9a-6p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p

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


Entertainment Schedule

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 6/9

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 9p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 9:45p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Tuesday 6/10

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p, 10:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Wednesday 6/11

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 9p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 9:45p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Thursday 6/12

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Friday 6/13

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Saturday 6/14

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 9p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 9:45p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p, 10:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Sunday 6/15

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p
Monday 6/16

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 9p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 10p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

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.