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News and Views

Mission: Control

Q: What do Mission: Space and an airplane have in common?

A: They both have air sickness bags.

Epcot's newest thrill ride has begun placing motion-sickness bags in various spots on the ride, including in front of a seat, and on the restraint devices. Apparently, maintenance on the ride has become extremely difficult with frequent shutdowns of one or more centrifuges for “protein spills.” Estimating that less than one percent of all riders get sick, Disney spokeswoman Rena Langley has been quoted as saying, “The majority of guests have no problems on the attraction. And we don't expect a lot of people to use the motion sickness bags.” Of course, with the attraction shuttling through 160 riders every four minutes, that's better than one incident per cycle. The bags are apparently in a test mode, and there is no decision yet on whether or not they will be there permanently.


The laundry room by the bowling alley-themed pool at the new Pop Century Resort is themed as a bowling shoe rack. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Living Seas rehab underway

Phase I of the rehab of the Living Seas pavilion appears to be underway. A new rock structure is under construction between The Living Seas and The Land, which appears—although unconfirmed—to be a background for a meet-and-greet. The hydrolators appear to be getting some work as well.

The major work, however, is taking place inside Seabase Alpha. The lower level is now completely walled off. It appears that all of the carpet has been ripped out and several of the tube aquariums are empty. It appears that Phase I of the rehab will be running through late March or early April. After the Universe of Energy goes down for a short rehab to remove the ExxonMobil signage in March, The Living Seas will likely close down for Phase II of the work, this time on the upper level. [Since the upper level is the location of entrances and exits, it would be hard to work and keep the pavilion open.]

Pleasure Island celebrates the real New Year's Eve

Pleasure Island will host a giant New Year's Eve street party counting down to 2004 with Blondie, Sugar Hill Gang and Jeff Kashiwa. The 8 p.m.-to-2 a.m. event also features desserts, salty snacks, a champagne toast and a midnight fireworks display plus the usual eight nightclubs with a variety of themed entertainment. Tickets are $79 plus tax; guests must be 21 or older.


Giant 8-track tapes hide the stairwells in the '70s section of the new Pop Century Resort. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Restaurants offer another New Year's alternative

High atop the Contemporary Resort, the California Grill will be offering a special New Year's Eve party with a menu that includes dozens of the restaurant's popular dishes, from sushi to oak-grilled beef tenderloin, and a great view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. California wines are paired with the creations, and there is an open bar. The party starts at 8 p.m. Cost is $395 per person, $250 ages 3 to 11 (with a special children's menu). At midnight, a breakfast buffet will be served.

Other dining options along Seven Seas Lagoon include Narcoossee's at the Grand Floridian Resort, which includes a six-course meal. Cost is $104.10 ($52.05 ages 3 to 11). Wine pairings are available. Seating is limited for dining options.

Marathon weekend approaches

Disney's Health & Fitness Expo will be presenting a number of seminars (link) featuring celebrity guest speakers. Each talk will take place during the Expo at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex and will include a question-and-answer session as well as an autograph session.

The Official All Star Cafe at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex will be offering Marathon and Half Marathon participants a high-energy, all-you-can-eat Spaghetti & Meatball Marathon Meal. The meal includes: a side salad, bread & butter, chocolate cake, a soft drink, and, of course, all the carbs and protein that you can pack away. The meal costs $8.99 plus tax and tip, and is available all day Friday, January 9 and Saturday, January 10, 2004. For priority seating and hours of operation, call (407) 827-TEAM (407-827-8326).


The newly-opened Pop Century Resort is decorated for the holidays. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Snow temporarily joins sand on Castaway Cay

The Disney Cruise Line has added a new decor package to Castaway Cay for the holidays. Guests sailing in December are discovering "snow" on Disney's private island. With flurries of fake snow (similar to that found on Main Street U.S.A for special holiday events) to Christmas trees, Mr. and Mrs. Snowman (with shell noses and tropical shirts), carolers and a sleigh full of presents, as well as Disney characters, dressed in holiday island styles, it's enough to give a surreal feel. Even the island's tram has been decorated to resemble a reindeer, complete with antlers and tail. Scuttle's Cove, the children's programming area at Castaway Cay, hosts holiday-themed children's activities all day long.

Onboard, there are more holiday events and decor. A nearly three-deck-tall tree is lit in the atrium lobby, where "snow" magically falls as part of the ceremony. Santa Goofy will visit on Christmas Day, with surprises for all the kids. Special family craft projects, traditional holiday feasts, and a Disney Cruise Line rendition of T'was the Night Before Christmas with a reading by Mrs. Claus and caroling by the main stage performers round out the cheer. Multiple faith and inter-denominational holiday services will be held on board. After Christmas, the celebration continues. A ship-wide party will ring in 2004, to be followed by a New Year's Day tailgate party.

Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade airs Thursday

The 20th annual Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade will air Thursday morning on ABC stations. Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa once again serve as hosts. The parade was taped back on the weekend of December 5-7.


In the Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade, to be broadcast on Thursday morning, Aladdin and Jasmine ride a carriage instead of a magic carpet. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Ears to the ground

…Construction of a single riders line at Space Mountain appears to be confirmed.

…The post-rehab Animation Tour is a shadow of its former self, and combined with the resignation of Roy E. Disney, does not bode well for the future of Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida, which will be made public after a Janaury 14 meeting with animators.



The new Animation Tour, featuring the animator-talking-to-Mushu segment already in place in Paris and Anaheim, is a mere shadow of its former self. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter has 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. Special holiday hours follow: Through Saturday, January 3, ALL attractions in Adventureland, including the Jungle Cruise, will open at the same time as the rest of the park. Hours are subject to change. Also in Adventureland, as reported before, El Pirata Y el Perico Restaurante has the following special holiday operating hours: Now through Tuesday, December 30: 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Wednesday, December 31: 10:30 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Epcot

  • The Wonders of Life pavilion will be closing on January 5. The Pure and Simple eatery and the Well and Goods Limited shop will remain closed, while the Body Wars, Cranium Command, and The Making of Me attractions will now be open on a seasonal basis. No word yet on the Frontiers in Medicine, Sensory Funhouse, Goofy about Health, and Sports Fitness Areas.
  • It is expected that the Universe of Energy will close for a short rehab in March to remove the ExxonMobil signage after their pavilion sponsorship ends.
  • It appears that the Living Seas pavilion will closing for a rehab in the April time frame. Rumors are strong that Audio-Animatronic characters from Finding Nemo will be added to the pavilion.
  • 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 has returned from rehab and is once again looming over the France pavilion.


Construction of the new automobile stunt show will cause the Backlot Tour to close from January 4 through April 1. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • Fantasmic! will be closing from January 26-30 for a regular maintenance 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 reported to return on New York Street/Big City Street 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.
  • The Backlot Tour will be closed from January 4 through April 1 to allow construction vehicles free access to the stunt show construction site.
  • The Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage show at the Theater of the Stars will be closed for refurbishment February 2 - 6, 2004.


Mount Everest continues its rise at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known closures at this time.

Resorts

  • Pop Century Resort has officially opened.
  • 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 to 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 27, 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

  • Typhoon Lagoon is closed for refurbishment through 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. Through April 2004.
  • Festival of the Seasons at Epcot featuring lighting displays, fun window displays, and more. Ends December 24.
  • Holidays Around the World at Epcot lets you celebrate holidays in the style of the World Showcase countries. Ends December 30.

December

  • Disney's Pop Century Resort opened 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 to 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 to 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.
  • Disney Vacation Club Member Homecoming event. May 25 to 27.

October 2004

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

Current Discounts & Promotions

Deep discount codes announced

Walt Disney World has announced new discount codes for Annual Passholders, Florida residents, and the general public for check-ins January 1 to February 11, 2004. General public rates start at $55 per night, while AP and Florida rates start at $49 per night. These rates are also available with DreamMaker packages. Visit disneyworld.com or MouseSavers for more details.

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.

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
 
12/22
12/23
12/24
12/25
12/26
12/27
 

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

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

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

MK 8a-12a
EF 9a-9:30p
EW 10a-9:30p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-6p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed

MK 8a-12a
EF 8a-9:30p
EW 10a-9:30p
MGM 8a-10p
AK 8a-7p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed

MK 8a-12a
EF 8a-9:30p
EW 10a-9:30p
MGM 8a-10p
AK 8a-7p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed

12/28
12/29
  • 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 8a-12a
EF 8a-9:30p
EW 10a-9:30p
MGM 8a-10:10p
AK 8a-7p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed

MK 8a-12a
EF 8a-9:30p
EW 10a-9:30p
MGM 8a-10:10p
AK 8a-7p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed


Entertainment Schedule

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 12/22

Mickey's Very Merry Holiday Parade 1p, 4p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10:15pm

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Tuesday 12/23

Mickey's Very Merry Holiday Parade 2p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10:15pm

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Wednesday 12/24

Mickey's Very Merry Holiday Parade 2p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10:15pm

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Thursday 12/25

Mickey's Very Merry Holiday Parade 2p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10:15pm

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Friday 12/26

Mickey's Very Merry Holiday Parade 2p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10:15pm

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p, 10p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Saturday 12/27

Mickey's Very Merry Holiday Parade 2p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10:15pm

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30pm 10p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Sunday 12/28

Mickey's Very Merry Holiday Parade 1p, 4p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10:15pm

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p, 10p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Monday 12/29

Mickey's Very Merry Holiday Parade 1p, 4p

SpectroMagic 8pm, 10:15pm

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p, 10p

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.