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News and Views

Sea of yellow to clear up

Walt Disney World is replacing all yellow ponchos sold at the theme parks with clear ones. The official reason is that it was difficult for lost children or others to find their families amid all of the yellow ponchos. Now, searchers can see the actual clothing that they're looking for. The fact that clear ponchos will most likely be cheaper is just an added benefit.

Watch your Keister!

The Keister Coaster at Disney's Boardwalk Resort will be closed for refurbishment from October 6 through 29. The 190,000-gallon Luna Park pool remains open during the rehab. For guests that want a slide as part of their pool experience, the Stormalong Bay pool at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts will be available while the Keister Coaster is closed. Shuttle service will be made available during this time for those wishing to take advantage of this opportunity. This is a limited-time exception to the pool-hopping guidelines. Once the Keister Coaster returns to service, Stormalong Bay will be off-limits for pool-hopping Disney's Vacation Club members, as well as any other guests not staying at the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.

Disney to launch Magical Gatherings

At its big press event on October 8 to 10, Walt Disney World is expected to announce the new Magical Gatherings program, which is being billed as a Resort-wide “celebration” in line with the recent trend of 15-month celebrations every other year (including the 1996 to 1997 25th Anniversary, 1999 to 2000 Millennium Celebration, and 2001 to 2002 100 Years of Magic). The marketing initiative focuses on helping people stage family reunions or other large group trips by booking large blocks of rooms next to each other, setting up restaurants for large crowds, and even reserving large areas for groups to watch parades together.

Disney is hoping to capitalize on the trend of large groups wanting to get together on vacation, rather than in a local park or other local venue. Groups have ranged from multi-generational family reunions to large groups of friends travelling together. The average expected group size is 8 to 30 people, with larger groups also welcome. Disney plans to give trip organizers free trip-planning tools on DVD and the Internet.

Of course, Disney is not new to bringing in new market segments. Since the Florida Resort first started promoting itself as a wedding destination 13 years ago, they've grown that business to over 2,000 weddings each year.

[MousePlanet staff member Mark Goldhaber: “We put together a 23-person trip with a group of friends by ourselves in 1999, and—while additional assistance would have helped to lessen the workload a bit—we still had lots of fun.”]

Cranes over Epcot

Construction cranes have been sighted backstage between the Imagination! and The Land pavilions. An article in the Orlando Sentinel (link) that includes quotes from our own David Koenig confirms the construction of Soarin' expected to open in 2005. The official announcement is expected at the October 8 to 10 press event.

Celebration golf course sold

Disney-owned The Celebration Co. sold the Celebration Golf Club in the community of Celebration, Florida, to C.S. Golf Partners, LLC last week for $6.5 million. The course and downtown Celebration went on the market back in June, but the downtown property has not yet sold despite several parties expressing interest. The golf club includes a clubhouse with banquet facilities along with a par-72 course, a three-hole junior course, a practice chipping hole, a driving range, and a practice putting green. The new owner is a partnership that includes a father-son pair of National Hockey League players. David Creighton, Sr. played for the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago BlackHawks, and New York Rangers. His son, Adam Creighton, played with the Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, and St. Louis Blues. David Creighton, Sr.'s other son, David Creighton, Jr., is a Celebration resident and a PGA golf pro. Although he is not a partner in C.S. Golf Partners, he will be on the Celebration Golf Club staff. The other partners are three members of the Sherlock family: Bill Sr., Bill Jr., and David. The new owners also own six other courses in Canada and Florida.

Woman has heart attack on Hulk coaster at Islands of Adventure

A 34-year-old mother of two from Jensen Beach, Florida, who appeared alert in the on-ride photograph taken right before the braking area, was found slumped in her seat as riders disembarked from the coaster train at around 2:35 p.m. last Tuesday afternoon. Witnesses said that she had no pulse when she was removed. Ride operators noticed that she was unconscious and called park first-aid staff, who used a automatic external defibrillator (AED) to try to revive her. She was taken in critical condition to Sand Lake Hospital.

The woman, a district sales manager for Godiva Chocolates, and some co-workers were at the park during an afternoon off from a three-day meeting in Orlando.

The Orlando Sentinel quoted the hotel cardiologist treating the woman as saying that the cardiac arrest would have likely happened at some point, whether she was on the ride or not. The article also said that her companions stated that she had complained about jaw pain earlier in the day, and quoted an Orlando Fire Department deputy chief as saying that “sometimes cardiac pain can radiate to the jaw.” Universal Orlando President Bob Gault said that this type of incident has never happened before at the ride (link). The ride, which opened in 1999, lasts two minutes and 15 seconds and reaches a high speed of 65 miles per hour. Signs posted near the ride entrance warn pregnant women and people with health problems, including heart conditions, not to ride. The ride reopened on Thursday.

Cypress Gardens rescued

Cypress Gardens has been purchased by a nonprofit environmental group for $22 million five months after the park closed down on April 13. The Trust for Public Land has reached agreement with the park's owners to take over the 60-year-old park. This will enable the group to preserve the park while searching for a permanent owner and operator. Several options have already been proposed by potential buyers, including turning the site into a historical park and adding amusement park rides.

For a complete article on the April closure of Cypress Gardens, see our article by Todd Regan.

You can still run (at) Disney!

Registration is still open for the 2003 Disney's 10K Classic presented by Foot Locker (link) on Sunday, October 12. The fifth annual event starts at 7:00 a.m. at Epcot, winds through the World Showcase, past the Disney's Boardwalk Resort, through the Disney-MGM Studios, and finishes at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. Races for kids at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex take place immediately following the event, at 8:45.

Entry fees are $25 if received by October 3, and $30 if received by October 12. Entry fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. Kids races are open to ages 11 and under and are free of charge. If you are a Disney cast member, and would like to receive your discount, please do not register on-line. Cast members can pick up a registration form at Company D or call (407) 938-3398.

Time is running out to sign up for the Walt Disney World Marathon, as well. As of September 25, registration for the Marathon reached 97% of its capacity, registering over 15,050 participants.

Ears to the ground

…The Main Street Gallery in the Magic Kingdom will be open again in its former location from noon until the park close as of Friday, October 3.

…There is a rumor that the Canada Pavilion at Epcot will soon have meet-and-greets with Kenai and Koda from the upcoming movie Brother Bear. They will most likely first appear around the beginning of November.

…We are now hearing that Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress and Timekeeper will be open during the Alien Encounter-to-Stitch rehab, but this has not yet been confirmed.

…The new on-ride photo opportunity for Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin opened to guests on Friday, September 26. Apparently, they are not putting riders' scores on the photo, as originally rumored.

…A Spanish-speaking Pal Mickey makes an introduction on October 5. He functions exactly as his English-speaking counterpart does, sharing Park tips, fun facts, jokes and playing three different games. Spanish Pal Mickey is available for rental or purchase at the Main Street Cinema at the Magic Kingdom.

…It seems that there's now a Nemo meet-and-greet going on outside The Living Seas. There may be an interesting announcement regarding the rumored Nemo overlay at that pavilion at the October press event.

…The painting of the rockwork in Tomorrowland has been completed.

…Adventureland will be opening at 10 a.m., one hour after park opening, on almost every day except high attendance days. So far, the only days that have been identified for a 9 a.m. opening are October 11, 17, 18, and 25, except for Jungle Cruise, which will still open at 10:00. In addition, Bwana Bob's, Island Supply, Agrabah Bazaar, Pirates Bazaar, and Crow's Nest will all be closing one hour before park close, but no later than 9:00 p.m.

…The Levy Restaurant group, current operators of Fulton's Crab House and the Portobello Yacht Club, will be taking over the management of Wolfgang Puck's Grande Cafe, and will operate it under Puck's name. It seems that the entire staff was asked to reapply for their positions this week by the new management team.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Big Thunder Mountain is closed for refurbishment through Saturday, November 22.
  • The Swiss Family Treehouse is closed for refurbishment through Friday, October 24.
  • Mickey's PhilharMagic is currently doing hit-or-miss sneak previews, and may not have time for a soft open before the official grand opening on Wednesday, October 8.
  • Wishes: a Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams, the new fireworks show for the Magic Kingdom, will debut on Thursday, October 9 at 9:00 p.m. The final showing of Fantasy in the Sky will be Monday, October 6 at 7:30 p.m.
  • The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter closes for good on October 12. It will then undergo a major rehab and reopen in mid- to late-2004 as Stitch Escape!

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 3:00 p.m. on that day.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • Magic of Disney Animation closes 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.
  • Due to the loss of Residential Street, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights will not be presented this holiday season. It is expected to return in some form for 2004.
  • 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.

Animal Kingdom

  • Tarzan Rocks closes from September 29 through October 1.

Resorts

  • Boardwalk Resort – The Keister Coaster slide will be closed from October 6 through October 29 for refurbishment. During this time, the 190,000 gallon Luna Park pool will remain open, and guests will also have the option of using the Stormalong Bay pool complex at the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.
  • Pop Century Resort officially opens on December 14.
  • Port Orleans Resort is in the middle of a two-year extensive rehab. For Phase I, French Quarter closed May 4, 2003. Phase II involves Riverside going down in sections. We have not yet heard a date for completion of Phase I.
  • Polynesian Resort is refurbishing its longhouses 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 through October 17, and Concierge has been moved to Tahiti during this period. Tonga is scheduled for rehab through December 20. Niue is the only other longhouse currently scheduled to undergo rehab, and is tentatively scheduled for January 18 to May 2, 2004. Rarotonga has not received a rehab yet, but is not on the current schedule.
  • Shades of Green is undergoing a major construction and rehab. The resort, run by Morale, Welfare & Receation for members of the U.S. military, 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 October 26.
  • Typhoon Lagoon undergoes refurbishment beginning in late December.

Elsewhere

  • The All Star Cafe at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex is now closed Mondays through Wednesdays, and is open Thursdays through Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Park Events

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 – Included with park admission, sample wine and food from 25 countries (link). October 18 to November 16.
  • The Funai Classic at Walt Disney World Resort features many of the world's top golfers, including Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Jim Furyk, Scott Hoch, Lee Janzen, European Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer, PGA champion Shaun Micheel, 2003 Hall of Fame inductee Nick Price and Scott Verplank. Tiger Woods is also expected, though he has not formally committed. The tournament takes place on the Magnolia and Palm courses. October 23 to 26.
  • 999 Happy Haunts Ball at the Magic Kingdom. October 27, 28, and 29.

November

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

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 and 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.

April 2004

  • Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. April 16 to May 30.

May 2004

  • Walt Disney World Inline Marathon (link). May 2.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Winter Dream Maker Package

Mousesavers.com is reporting that there is a special Disney Visa 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 also includes a $50 bonus in Disney Dollars. Dates are November 2 through December 25, with blackout dates of November 25 to 27, and you must book by October 14. To book this package, contact a Disney Specialist travel agent and ask for booking code ZXBL for a Value resort or ZXBM for Moderate, Deluxe or Home-Away-From-Home resorts.

Free continental breakfast at Celebration Hotel through MouseSavers

Mousesavers.com has an exclusive offer (link) of a free daily continental breakfast for two at the Celebration Hotel, along with special rates, for stays from now through December 31. Reservations must be booked by October 15.

Great rates at the Swan and Dolphin

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

  • 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.

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.

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
 
9/29
9/30
10/1
10/2
10/3
10/4
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/5
10/6

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

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


Entertainment Schedule

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 9/29

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 8p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4:30p

Fantasmic! 8p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 9/30

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

Wednesday 10/1

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 8p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4:30p

Fantasmic! 8p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 10/2

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

Friday 10/3

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

Saturday 10/4

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 8p, 10p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4:30p

Fantasmic! 8p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 10/5

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

 

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4:30p

Fantasmic 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 10/6

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 8p (Final performance of this show)

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4:30p

Fantasmic 7:30p

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.