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News and Views

Winter Dream Maker Package

From now through Monday, September 22, you can book Disney's Winter Dream Maker Package from AAA Vacations with accommodations at a Disney Value Resort for as low as $99 per adult, per night. This special package is available for travel between November 10 and February 11, and includes accommodations at a Disney Resort, Disney's Ultimate Park Hopper Ticket, and more AAA Vacations benefits.

Package rates are based on adult double occupancy and must be booked by Monday, September 22. Additional nights and other resorts are available at varying rates. To book this package to the Walt Disney World Resort, call your local AAA affiliate travel agent.

Steel drums back at Old Key West

The background music loop at Disney's Old Key West Resort has returned to playing tropical music after a failed experiment with authentic music that might have been heard in “Old Florida” during the 1920s and 1930s that the resort is designed to resemble.

Sights, sounds, smell, and touch for PhilharMagic—Is taste next?

Mickey's PhilharMagic, in addition to showcasing computer animation projected in 3-D, will apparently feature effects for all senses. Among the surprises are treats for the nose and sensory effects that are “in your face.” We'll leave it at that to avoid spoilers.

DVC of Tomorrow(land)!

The Disney Vacation Club booth at Geiger's Counter in Tomorrowland has now opened.

Another new Fastpass location?

We hear that Playhouse Disney is currently slated to get Fastpass sometime in October.

Sleeping Beauty on parade

To celebrate (read: to help market) the September 9 release of the Special Edition of the Sleeping Beauty video and DVD, a special Sleeping Beauty pre-parade will precede the Share a Dream Come True parade from starting tomorrow through Tuesday, September 30. Princess Aurora, Prince Phillip, Flora, Fauna, Merryweather, and Maleficent will head down the parade route, joined by 8-10 “Honorary Princesses of the Kingdom” (selected children).

Tom Joyner Family Reunion show at Walt Disney World

Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, the diva trio who topped the charts as Destiny's Child, will join actor/rapper LL Cool J, comedian Cedric the Entertainer and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly for the Tom Joyner Family Reunion at Walt Disney World Resort beginning this Thursday (August 28) through Monday September 1.

The first-time event, hosted by syndicated radio personality Tom Joyner, offers families who purchase an exclusive event package access to all four exciting Walt Disney World theme parks and all the entertainment shows, seminars and activities, plus surprises and goodies Joyner has planned.

To book a specially priced family package guests can call 1-888-TJ-FAMILY (888-853-2645) 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information about the events, guests can go to the official event Web site (link).


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Big Thunder Mountain will be closed for refurbishment from Sunday, August 24 to Saturday, November 22.
  • The Swiss Family Treehouse will be closed for refurbishment Sunday, September 7 to Friday, October 24.
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic is slated to open on Wednesday, October 8. An Annual Passholder preview will be held on September 20-21, and a soft opening is expected on September 30.
  • Wishes: a Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams, the new fireworks show for the Magic Kingdom, is expected to debut on October 8.
  • The Fantasyland Character Festival Meet and Greet location has been temporarily closed. There is currently no date set for reopening.

Epcot

  • Mission:Space is now in soft opening status, with the official Grand Opening slated for Thursday, October 9. Epcot will close to the public at 3:00pm on that day.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • Magic of Disney Animation will be closed for refurbishment September 14 to November 17.
  • Residential Street at the Disney-MGM Studios has been closed and is undergoing demolition to prepare the site for a new “E-ticket stunt-show attraction” believed to be an American version of the popular Moteurs… Action! stunt show from the Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris.
  • Rock 'N' Roller Coaster will be closed for refurbishment September 6 - September 16 for brake replacements and other rehab work.
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror will receive a lot of rehab work in September—reportedly on the ride control system and cable replacements— but will only be closed from September 22 through 26. One side of the tower will be closed from September 18 to 21. Both sides will be down from September 22 to 26, and the Tower opens again running one side only from September 27 to November 17. Capacity will be decreased during the rehab, but will be offset by smaller off-season crowds smaller crowds.
  • Sets from the upcoming Haunted Mansion movie are scheduled to open in the old Backstage Pass soundstage on October 6.
  • The Brown Derby Restaurant will be closed September 14 - 20 for rehab.

Animal Kingdom

  • Festival of the Lion King – Disney has now confirmed that, as first reported here on July 21, this popular show at Animal Kingdom will be down from August 25 through September 19 for work on enclosing the open-air theater.

Resorts

  • Pop Century Resort – This resort will officially open on December 14.
  • Port Orleans Resort - A two-year extensive rehab of this resort's rooms is ongoing. For Phase I, French Quarter closed May 4, 2003. Phase II will involve Riverside going down in sections. We have not yet heard a date for completion of Phase I.
  • Polynesian Resort - This resort is seeting the longhouses refurbished one by one. Each longhouse under rehab is walled off and isolated during its rehab. There are only a couple of longhouses remaining. Hawaii is currently in rehab thru October 17, 2003. Concierge has been moved to Tahiti during this period. Tonga is scheduled for rehab September 14-December 20, 2003. Niue is the only other longhouse currently scheduled to undergo rehab, and is tentatively scheduled for January 18 - May 2, 2004. Rarotonga has not received a rehab yet, but is not on the current schedule.
  • Shades of Green - Major construction and rehab is ongoing at this military-run resort. It is currently expected to reopen in March, 2004.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa (a Disney Vacation Club resort) has a tentative grand opening date of May 1, 2004.

Water Parks

  • Blizzard Beach – undergoes refurbishment beginning November 1.
  • Typhoon Lagoon – undergoes refurbishment beginning in late December.

Park Events

September

  • Night of Joy [September 5-6] – 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 (934-7639).
  • National Kidney Foundation of Florida 5K Fun Run/Walk Race (link) [September 6]
  • Disney's Pin Celebration at Epcot [September 19-21]
  • 22nd Annual World Airline Road Races (link) [September 24 - 27]
  • Tri-America Triathlon Series Finale (link) [September 27 & 28]

October

  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom [October 3, 5, 10, 14, 16, 19, 24, 26, 30 and 31]
  • Disney's 10K Classic (link)[October 12]
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival [October 18-November 16] – Included with park admission, sample wine and food from 25 countries (link)
  • 999 Happy Haunts Ball at the Magic Kingdom [October 27, 28, and 29]

November

  • Festival of the Masters - 150 artists and their creations on display at Downtown Disney's West Side [November 7-9]
  • ABC Super Soap Weekend at the Disney-MGM Studios [November 8-9]
  • Pin Trading Cruise aboard the Disney Wonder [November 16-20]
  • Festival of the Seasons at Epcot featuring lighting displays, fun window displays, and more[November 28-December 24]
  • Holidays Around the World at Epcot lets you celebrate holidays in the style of the World Showcase countries [November 28-December 30]
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom [November 30, December 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 19] – Order by phone at (407) W-DISNEY (934-7639)

December

  • Doll & Teddy Bear Weekend [December 7]
  • Disney's Pop Century Resort opens [December 14]

January 2004

  • Disney's Health and Fitness Expo (link) [January 9 & 10]
  • FamilyFun Magazine Family Fun Run (link) [January 10]
  • Disney Marathon and Half-Marathon [January 11]
  • Annual Passholders' Cruise (4 nights) on Disney Magic [January 25, 2004]

April 2004

  • Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival [April 16 – May 30]

May 2004

  • Walt Disney World Inline Marathon (link) [May 2]

Current Discounts & Promotions

Special Lion King offer for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders

Pre-order The Lion King Platinum Edition DVD or VHS at the Walt Disney World Resort through September 20, and receive free shipping and two free gifts: a limited edition plush Simba, and a limited edition pin. The Lion King Platinum Edition DVD will include new scenes and a new song by Elton John, and can be pre-ordered at Town Square Expo Hall (Magic Kingdom), Pin Central (Epcot), the Sorcerer's Hat (Disney-MGM Studios), Island Mercantile (Animal Kingdom), or Disney's Pin Traders (Downtown Disney Marketplace).

Winter Dream Maker Package

MouseSavers.com has the details on specially discounted packages. These rates are available for check-in most nights November 10, 2003 - February 22, 2004. Lots of rules and restrictions apply, get complete details on the MouseSavers Web site.

Great rates at the Swan and Dolphin

Are you planning a trip this fall? Check out these two offers from the Swan and Dolphin:

  • $99 per night, plus tax and resort fee, between August 28 and September 9. Rates include a free upgrade, and are subject to availability.
  • WDW Annual Passholders can book rooms as low as $139 per night, plus tax and resort fee, through the end of 2003, including a FREE upgrade! Rates include a free upgrade, and are subject to availability.

Get more details and the discount codes at MouseSavers.com.

Cruise discounts

MouseSavers maintains a Magical Rates list, updated with the lowest fares each week. Current specials on three-night cruises start at just $379 per person.

Disney Cruise Line is offering special savings for Florida residents on select cruise vacations for late summer and early fall dates. Florida resident rates start at $349 for three-night cruises, $399 for four-night cruises and $599 for seven-night cruises.

Special rates for Florida residents apply to most three-night itineraries departing between August 28 and October 2, most four-night itineraries departing between August 31 and September 28 and seven-night eastern and western Caribbean itineraries departing between August 30 and September 20.

Itinerary
Rates
Dates
3-Night $349 8/28, 9/11-10/2
4-Night $399 8/31, 9/7, 9/21, 9/28
7-Night $599 8/30-9/20

Rates are per person, based on double occupancy and subject to availability. Government taxes and fees are not included. At least one adult guest per stateroom must be a Florida resident. Proof of residency is required.

Free 5-day Park Hopper for Active Military

Disney is offering a special for active duty military — a free five-day park hopper ticket, as well as discounted companion tickets. Offer valid through December 19, 2003 and includes all active military personnel, including Coast Guard, as well as activated National Guard and Reservists. See their official Web site for more information.

Play 4 Days pass

Florida residents can purchase a new four-day ticket for just $109, plus tax — that's almost 1/2 the price of a regular four-day park-hopper ticket. The ticket is valid for four admissions from now until September 30, 2003. These tickets are park-hoppers.

Residents can purchase just one ticket per person, per day, so your out-of-town relatives must buy their own, regular-priced admission. Tickets are nontransferable, and you must show a valid ID each time. These tickets can be applied towards the cost of any Annual Passport, as long as you upgrade by October 31, 2003. (Your annual pass expires one year from the date you first used your Play 4 Days Pass).

The Play 4 Days pass can be purchased at any WDW park ticket window, local AAA offices, Florida Disney Stores, by phone at (407) 939-4329 or on the WDW Web site (link).

Plan ahead and save a few bucks

The Walt Disney World Resort is encouraging visitors to buy their theme park tickets before they even leave home, by offering a slight discount on advance purchases. You can save as much as $22 per adult, per ticket with the 'Advance Purchase Savings' program.

You can also receive these Advance Purchase Savings with packages purchased through AAA.

Multi-Day Tickets
Gate Prices
Advance Purchase Price
Savings
4-Day Park Hopper: Adults
$208
$192
$16
     Children ages 3 - 9
$167
$152
$15
5-Day Park Hopper: Adults
$239
$217
$22
     Children ages 3 - 9
$192
$172
$20
5-Day Park Hopper Plus: Adults
$269
$247
$22
     Children ages 3 - 9
$216
$197
$19
6-Day Park Hopper Plus: Adults
$299
$277
$22
     Children ages 3 - 9
$240
$222
$18
7-Day Park Hopper Plus: Adults
$329
$307
$22
     Children ages 3 - 9
$264
$247
$17

Annual Passholders

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 Mondays through Fridays. Call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) for locations and reservations.


Park Hours

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
8/25
8/26
8/27
8/28
8/29
8/30
 

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

8/31
9/1
  • 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-9p
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


Entertainment Schedule

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 8/25

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 8:30p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 8/26

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

 

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 8/27

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 8:30

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 8/28

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

 

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Friday 8/29

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

 

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 8/30

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 9p, 11p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 10p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

 

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 8/31

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 8:15p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 9/1

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and 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.