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Due to the Big Thunder Mountain accident at Disneyland over the weekend, this week's Walt Disney World update was put together with unusual haste. If you know of any significant issues or stories that we missed, please send the information to park updates. Thank you.

News and Views

Hurricane Henri leaves resort undamaged

Florida residents feared that Tropical Storm Henri would do considerable damage as it traveled up the west coast of the state, so soon after Hurricane Fabian had devastated Bermuda just days earlier.

Fortunately, Henri continued to weaken, and by Sunday night, forecasters were downgrading the amount of rainfall they were expecting in the Orlando area.

To be on the safe side, however, Walt Disney World took precautions. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Magic Kingdom crews erected tents over the stages on Friday and Saturday for Night of Joy, a Christian music festival. The park also opened more shops and restaurants to give visitors places to stay dry.

Strap on those skates

Registration is now open for the next Walt Disney World Inline Marathon, to be held on Sunday, May 2, 2004. More than 1500 inline skaters from around the world participated this past spring for the sold-out inaugural event, which includes both a full and half marathon.

Skaters of all abilities are encouraged register. Entries received on or before April 1, 2004 are $70 for the Inline Marathon and $50 for the 13.1-mile Inline Half Marathon. You can register online directly or print an application to be completed and mailed.

The loop course will whisk skaters down Hollywood Boulevard inside the Disney-MGM Studios and along a charming coastal village at Disney's Boardwalk Resort, before skating past the eleven nations of World Showcase pavilion at Epcot. The race circles back to Disney's Wide World of Sports for the Half Marathon finish, while the marathoners will complete a second loop for the full 26.2 miles.

For more information on Disney's Inline Marathon, and to register, visit the Disney Wide World of Sports Web site (link).


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Big Thunder Mountain is closed for refurbishment through 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. It is scheduled to re-open September 21.

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 30 to November 23.
  • 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 14 for brake replacements and other rehab work.
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror will receive a lot of rehab work from September to November—reportedly on the ride control system and cable replacements—but will only be closed from October 13 through 18. One side of the tower will be closed from September 18 to October 12. Both sides will be down from October 13 to 18, and the Tower opens again running one side only from October 19 to November 17. Capacity will be decreased during the rehab, but should 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 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 seeing 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

  • 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

Walt Disney World is offering the "Winter Dream Maker" package starting at $99 per adult per night. The package includes a room at a Disney Value resort and an Ultimate Park Hopper ticket. For example, you can save about $230 on a three-night stay for two adults at the All-Star Movies resort, specially priced at $661 (including taxes). The package is good Monday, November 10 through Wednesday, February 11. Blackout dates are November 25 to 27 and December 27 through January 1. Call 407-939-7843 and ask for code ZXMJ, or book at the Disney World Web site (link). You must book by September 22.

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
 
9/8
9/9
9/10
9/11
9/12
9/13
 

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

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

MK 9a-8p
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 Closed
TL 10a-6p

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

9/14
9/15
  • 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-8p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL Closed

MK 9a-8p
EF 9a-6p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-80p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL Closed


Entertainment Schedule

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 9/8

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

 

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 9/9

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

 

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 9/10

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

 

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 9/11

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Friday 9/12

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 9/13

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 8p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

 

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 9/14

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

 

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4:30p

Fantasmic 8p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 9/15

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4:30p

Fantasmic 8p

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.