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News and Views

75 Mickey statues debut at WDW

Walt Disney World debuted 75 six-foot-tall, 700-pound polyurethane statues of Mickey Mouse on November 18, his birthday. The statues were decorated by cast members from all parts of the Disney empire, members of all corporate partners in the 75 InspEARations project, and various celebrities. The statues will be on display at Walt Disney World for six months before touring through Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Houston, Dallas, Portland, Disneyland, Washington D.C. and New York City. The Disneyland stop is expected to be some time around Mickey's 76th birthday next year. At the conclusion of the tour, the 75 statues will be auctioned off by Sotheby's, with the proceeds of each Mickey going to a charity designated by each designer.


The 75 polyurethane Mickeys decorated by Disney Cast Members and other celebrities are unveiled at a ceremony last Tuesday. (Photo: David Roark/Disney)

New parade next year

Buried in the press releases about Mickey's 75th birthday is a short note that Spring/Summer 2004 will feature “Mickey, Donald and Goofy as The Three Musketeers characters in summer parade at Walt Disney World.” Not coincidentally, the direct-to-video movie The Three Musketeers, featuring Mickey and friends, will be released around the same time. No word on which park the parade will be in, or what else the parade will feature.

Regis & Kelly to host the 20th annual WDW Christmas Parade

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa once again host the television broadcast of the Walt Disney World Christmas Parade broadcast. Clips will include astronauts Jim Lovell, Wally Schirra, Walter Cunningham, and Winston Scott, as well as astronaut-wannabe Lance Bass going for a ride on Mission: Space; Wayne Brady joining Tarzan Rocks performers on “You'll Be In My Heart" from the Animal Kingdom; five original cast members of the Brady Bunch having a Magical Gathering (ooh, feel the synergy!) at the Disney-MGM Studios; and the usual array of special performances and Disney character appearances. No word on when the parade will be taped.


Wayne Allwine and Russi Taylor, the official voices of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, pose for a photo with “I speak for Mickey, and Mickey speaks for me,” the Mickey that they designed, featuring a pair of mouse ears and a Walt T-shirt. Photo: David Roark/Disney.

Ironman CEO Marathon Challenge to take place at WDW next year

Ironman Motivations and Walt Disney World announced that the CEO Marathon Challenge (link) will take place during the WDW Marathon Weekend, January 9 to 12, 2004. The Challenge is a program for CEOs and company presidents who are competing in the WDW Marathon. Awards will be presented in three male age categories and a female category. For a mere $3,500 registration fee, the program carries a whole heapin' pile o' benefits for those in a position to participate.

Ears to the ground

…Concrete is now being poured at the future site of Soarin' Over California

…Vertical construction is proceeding well at the Expedition: Everest site

…Jim Hill Media is reporting (link) that the redo of the Animation Tour at the Disney-MGM Studios (which reopens today) was largely due to the long-planned—but only announced on Friday, November 14—closure of the Florida branch of the Disney Animation Studios.

…The AAA Travel and Touring Desk located in Town Square Exposition Hall at the Magic Kingdom will now only be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The desk continues to be open 7 days a week. Guests who are traveling on a AAA Vacation Package and have a question outside of these hours may call 1-888-215-9434 for assistance.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Big Thunder Mountain was originally scheduled to return to service on Sunday, November 23, however the rehab has been extended another week and the ride is now schedule to reopen on Sunday, November 30 (missing most of the Thanksgiving crowds).
  • The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter closed for good. It is now undergoing a major rehab and will reopen in fall 2004 as Stitch's Great Escape!
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress opens from park open to park close for the duration of the Stitch's Great Escape! construction.
  • Timekeeper opens from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. for the duration of the Stitch's Great Escape! construction.
  • Country Bear Jamboree has reopened, running its Christmas show. It will close January 12 to 16 to return to its usual program.
  • Adventureland now opens at 10 a.m. on non-peak days, but opens with the rest of the park (except for Jungle Cruise) on Sundays, Thursdays, and Saturdays through early December, plus every day of Thanksgiving week (November 23 to 29) including Jungle Cruise.

Epcot

  • Food Rocks closes on January 3 to make way for the entrance to the new Soarin' Over California attraction.
  • The Behind the Seeds Walking Tour of the greenhouses at The Land will be discontinued on January 3 during reconstruction of the Food Rocks area into the queue for Soarin'. The tours are expected to resume upon completion of the construction.
  • The Eiffel Tower structure at the France pavilion is due to return from rehab in December.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • Magic of Disney Animation is scheduled to reopen today after a lengthy rehab.
  • Residential Street at the Disney-MGM Studios has been closed and demolished and construction has begun to turn the site into 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.
  • New York Street is undergoing a great deal of construction to change some facades to represent Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. We do not yet have a target completion date for the newly-titled Big City Street yet.
  • Sets from the upcoming Haunted Mansion movie are now open in the old Backstage Pass soundstage and will be open through the end of the year.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known closures at this time.

Resorts

  • Pop Century Resort - Officially opens 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. Tuvalu is scheduled for rehab through January 2004. Niue and Rarotonga are the only other longhouses currently scheduled to undergo rehab, and are tentatively scheduled for January 18 - May 2, 2004.
  • Shades of Green - Major construction and rehab is ongoing at this MWR-run resort for the military. 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 17, 2004. Reservations will be taken starting on January 5. DVC members can reserve using points on January 5 (home resort) or February 4 (other resorts).

Water Parks

  • Blizzard Beach is undergoing refurbishment through December 13.
  • Typhoon Lagoon undergoes refurbishment December 14 to February 28.

Elsewhere

  • The All Star Cafe at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex is now closed Monday-Wednesday. It is open Thursday-Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Park Events

November

  • Celebrate Mickey… 75 InspEARations showcases 75 very special interestingly decorated Mickey statues to celebrate Mickey's 75th birthday throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. November 18, 2003 through April 2004.
  • Festival of the Seasons at Epcot featuring 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.
  • Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer and Dance Championships (link) December 7 - 13.
  • 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.
  • National College Cheerleading and Dance Team Championship (link) January 16-18.
  • Annual Passholders' Cruise (4 nights) on Disney Magic. January 25.
  • National Dance Team Championship (link) January 31 - February 1.

February 2004

  • National High School Cheerleading Championship (link) February 7 & 8.
  • Atlanta Braves training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex (link) February 15 - April 2.

March 2004

  • National Cheerleading and Dance Championship (link) March 13 & 14.

April 2004

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

May 2004

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

October 2004

  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. October 1 - November 14.

Current Discounts & Promotions

New vacation packages offered by Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines has announced Orlando vacation packages linked with the Disney Dream Maker packages. (link) The offering includes round-trip airfare, lodging, and Ultimate Park Hopper passes. The package is valid from all Southwest markets, and must be booked no later than three business days prior to departure. Travel must be booked by December 4, 2003 for travel between December 7, 2003 and February 10, 2004.

Mousesavers announces special Celebration Hotel rates

MouseSavers has announced special rates at the Celebration Hotel for readers of its web site. (If you haven't visited the site yet, please check it out!)

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

New Disney Visa Dream Maker Package - Kids Stay Free!

That there is a new Disney's Visa “Kids Stay and Play Free” Package, available most nights January 4 through June 12, 2004, where when you buy a full-price Walt Disney World Dream Maker Package with your Disney's Visa card, for each adult on the package, one child (3-9) gets a free Ultimate Park Hopper pass for the length of stay. 4-night minimum. Plus you receive $100 in Disney Dollars per package at check-in! Go to Disney's Kids Free Web page (link) for more information, or call your travel agent and book using package code ZXFA. You must book your package by January 2.

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.

Military Salute hotel and cruise discounts available

Active U.S. Military personnel or spouses are also eligible for a 40 percent savings per night (based on the non-discounted price of the same room) at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels, and special rates on Disney Cruise Line sailings. This offer is available most nights through December 19, 2003 at Walt Disney World, and for most sailings through December 18 on the Disney Cruise Line. Hotel rooms and staterooms are limited at this special rate.

For more information, call (407) 939-7424 for Walt Disney World, and (800) 951-2659 for the Disney Cruise Line. You must be 18 or older to call these numbers.

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.

Annual Passholder and Florida resident rates available

WDW Annual Passholder and Florida resident rates are available at select Walt Disney World resorts for check-ins November 28 through December 26. Discounts range from approximately 30 to 45 percent off regular rack rates.

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
 
11/24
11/25
11/26
11/27
11/28
11/29
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

11/30
12/1
  • 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-6p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9:30p
MGM 9a-7p
AK 9a-5p
BB closed
TL 10a-5p

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


Entertainment Schedule

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 11/24

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10pm

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Tuesday 11/25

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10pm

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Wednesday 11/26

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10pm

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Thursday 11/27

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10pm

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Friday 11/28

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10pm

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Saturday 11/29

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10pm

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4:30p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Sunday 11/30

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10pm

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Monday 12/1

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic 6pm

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p



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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.