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News and Views

Finally, Pop Century Resort opens Saturday

After a delay of more than a year, Disney's Pop Century Resort is set to open Phase I, the Classic Years, on Saturday, December 14. The Classic Years, which celebrates the decades from the 1950s through the 1990s, and is the first half of the resort, has the same capacity as one and one-half All-Star Resorts. Phase II, the Legendary Years, celebrating the 1900s through the 1940s, will open at a later date.

 

Posh pair of hotels open in Orlando

A pair of upscale hotels have joined the massive inventory of hotel rooms in the Orlando area. The 1,000 room JW Marriott and 584-room Ritz-Carlton at Grande Lakes Orlando opened last week, with Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer in attendance. The resort is 15 minutes from the airport and 20 minutes from the theme parks. The two connected hotels, the Greg Norman-designed golf course, and the rest of the 500-acre property cost $600 million to build. The opulent resorts come at a high price, though. Rooms at the JW Marriott start at $420 per night, while rooms at The Ritz-Carlton start at $490 per night.

College Football Awards show to be broadcast from Atlantic Dance on Thursday night

Atlantic Dance at Disney's Boardwalk Resort is the site for the Home Depot 2003 College Football Awards, which will be broadcast live on ESPN, Thursday, December 11, from 7 to 9 p.m. (Eastern time). The show will be hosted by Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Trev Alberts. You can't get inside, but if you want to meet the athletes or hosts, get there early and you might catch them on their way in. If you don't want to meet them, you might want to avoid the area.

 

Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex plans to build new attraction

The Visitors Complex at the Kennedy Space Center hopes to feature a new attraction in 2006. The $50 million attraction would offer guests an immersive space shuttle experience. The project is still at the concept stage, and is awaiting final approval from NASA.

 

 

Ears to the ground

…Work has begun to create a single-riders line for Space Mountain.

…Following a successful test period, Santa Claus will be making daily appearances in the Tour Guide Gardens, to the left of the Magic Kingdom's City Hall, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. through December 24. During Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party evenings, Santa departd for the North Pole by 6:00 p.m. Guests will have the opportunity to use their own camera or have a photograph taken that they can purchase in the Town Square Exposition Hall.

El Pirata Y el Perico Restaurante will be operating on a short schedule for December. Every Saturday in December and weekdays from Sunday, December 21 through Tuesday, December 30, the restaurant will be open from 11:00 a.m. through 4:00 p.m. On New Year's Eve, the hours will be 10:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

…If a new proposal is approved next spring, several toll plazas in the Walt Disney World area on Florida's Turnpike, the Beeline (SR-528), and the Greeneway (SR. 417) will see an increase of 25 or 50 cents.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • 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 is currently 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.

 

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 has been officially discontinued during reconstruction of the Food Rocks area into the queue for Soarin'. However, the tour may be given on an unannounced basis until Food Rocks officially closes on January 3. 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 some time this month.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • 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

Ongoing

  • 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

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 discount codes announced

MouseSavers has announced that Walt Disney World is offering new discount codes for Annual Passholders, Florida residents, and the general public for check-ins January 1 to February 11, 2004.

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
 
12/8
12/9
12/10
12/11
12/12
12/13
 

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

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

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

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

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

12/14
12/15
  • 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-6p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9:30p
MGM 9a-7p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed

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


Entertainment Schedule

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 12/8

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

Tuesday 12/9

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Wednesday 12/10

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

Thursday 12/11

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Friday 12/12

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Saturday 12/13

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

Sunday 12/14

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 12/15

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

 



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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.