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News and Views

Celebration downtown sold

Last Wednesday, The Celebration Company, a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Company, sold downtown Celebration to Lexin Capital, a New York investment firm. The sale took effect immediately. While the price was not disclosed, certain terms of the sale were made public. Among the terms made public last week, Lexin Capital will continue Celebration traditions such as Founder's Day and the Fourth of July party, and will abide by all past architectural rules and designs.

"We really think they are going to be an owner who will focus on the long-term growth of the community," Celebration Co. spokeswoman Andrea Finger said. "They understand the importance of the town center to the community." Many residents have said that they are hoping that the new owners will mean that the shops in the downtown core, known as Market Street, will become targeted more toward residents than tourists. According to MousePad member Teri, "people who live here drive several miles out to get their groceries and hardware." (link)

Lexin Capital's purchase encompasses 18 acres containing 16 retail shops, six full-service restaurants, more than 94,000 square feet of commercial office space, 105 private apartments and three land parcels. ?We look forward to strengthening Market Street?s position in Celebration and becoming an active member of the community,? said Metin Negrin, president of Lexin Capital.


Disney sold the town center of Celebration, FL to Lexin Capital last Wednesday. MousePlanet photo by Sue Holland.

Bucs will return to Disney for training camp in 2004

For the third straight summer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will host their training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. The team announced on Thursday that it had signed a contract to return to Walt Disney World. In addition, the players, coaches and staff will call the Celebration Hotel home for the third consecutive year. ?The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' training camp has become one of the most highly-anticipated events on our schedule at Disney?s Wide World of Sports Complex,? said Reggie Williams, vice president of Disney Sports Attractions. Buccaneer practices at training camp will continue to be open to the public and free to all fans. On most days, the Bucs hold one practice in the morning and another in the afternoon. The Buccaneers will announce a complete training camp schedule later this spring, but workouts are tentatively scheduled to begin in late July and conclude in mid-to-late August.

Timekeeper runs out of time, shop stays

Apparently, the decision to keep Timekeeper and the Carousel of Progress open during the rehab of the ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter into Stitch's Great Escape lasted a whole three months. Effective Sunday, Jan. 25, Timekeeper will return to the ranks of the "open seasonally" attractions. However, it appears that the relocated Mickey's Star Traders will remain open in the Timekeeper queue area until the completion of the rehab at the original Star Traders location at Easter time.

Splash painting, Bears open early

Splash Mountain will be getting a much-needed exterior painting over the next few weeks. This will cause the attraction to open at 11 a.m. on weekdays from Monday, Jan. 26 through Thursday, Feb. 12. On those days, to help soak up the morning crowds, the Country Bear Jamboree will again open at 9 a.m. instead of the recently-instated 10 a.m.


Great ride, awful sign. While anticipation is high for the new Soarin' attraction being imported from Disney's California Adventure park, the promotional signage leaves much to be desired. MousePlanet photo by Lisa Perkis.

Splash single rider correction

In the Ears to the Ground section of the Jan. 12 WDW Update (link), we stated that the single rider line experiment at Splash Mountain had failed due to guests not wanting to ride with a stranger on the wet ride. A cast member has given us the actual story. The cast member writes:

The main reason for discontinuing singles was the fact that our queue is nowhere near set up for single riders. We tried several different merge points (merging FastPass, singles and standbys), and none of them seemed to work. We tried up at the stairs near the train station, we tried down at load, we tried just about everywhere in between; and we just couldn't seem to get it to work. Another problem we faced was that we tried this during the VERY BUSY holiday times. There were some parties that just wanted to get into the logs quicker than even a FastPass would, so when they reached the load area and we tried to split them up to fill the empty seats in the logs, they threw a fit - "We got in single rider line so we could all ride together!" ... It really had nothing to do with not wanting to get stuck in a seat with a stranger, as the majority of folks who used singles used it correctly. We just couldn't get it to work they way we wanted to. Splash load just ain't designed for three lines merging.

So it looks like the Splash Mountain single rider line will have to wait for a major rehab of the queue area or it won't happen at all.

Disney Dining Experience news

Disney Dining Experience (a special dining card offer available only to Florida residents) members have the option of celebrating Valentine's Day at the Hollywood Brown Derby for the annual semi-formal/black tie optional dinner dance extravaganza at a cost of $150 (members) and $165 (non-members). The event will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Dancing, cordials, and cigars will commence at 9:30 p.m. with the conclusion of the evening at 11 p.m.

In other news, Planet Hollywood has just been added to the Disney Dining Experience list of participating restaurants.

Ears to the ground

Dinosaur! is rumored to be scheduled for a three month rehab from April through June.

…The Earl of Sandwich shop at the Downtown Disney Marketplace still has not opened, but the Goofy's Candy Shop has already been renamed to Sweet Memories.

…Current Surreal Life cast member Erik Estrada announced that he and reality show "roomie" Vanilla Ice plan to take a Disney Cruise Line cruise together with their families in the near future. The former CHiPS hunk made the announcement while he was a guest on Live With Regis & Kelly during a recent broadcast from Disney's California Adventure. Meanwhile, ABC sitcom According to Jim taped an episode aboard the Disney Magic last week. Airdates are rumored to be Feb. 24 and March 2.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • The Liberty Square Riverboat will be closed for refurbishment from Jan. 17 - Feb. 8.
  • The Astro Orbiter will be closed for refurbishment from Jan. 26 - March 1.
  • 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 is expected to remain open for the duration of the Stitch's Great Escape! construction.
  • Timekeeper has returned to seasonal operation.
  • Mickey's Star Traders will be closed for refurbishment through early April as part of the Stitch rehab.
  • 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. The Hall of Presidents and the Country Bear Jamboree will also open at 10 a.m. every day except as noted below.
  • Splash Mountain will open at 11 a.m. on weekday mornings from Jan. 25 through Feb. 12 for exterior painting. On those mornings, Country Bear Jamboree will return to 9 a.m. openings.

Epcot

  • 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 for Phase II of the Nemo rehab.
  • Food Rocks has closed permanently 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 discontinued during reconstruction of the Food Rocks area into the queue for Soarin'. The tours are expected to resume upon completion of the construction.
  • The Wonders of Life pavilion went to seasonal operation on Jan. 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.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • Fantasmic! will be closed from Jan. 26-30 for a regular maintenance rehab.
  • The Beauty and the Beast - Live on Stage show at the Theater of the Stars will be closed for refurbishment Feb. 2 - 6, 2004.
  • The Backlot Tour will be closed through April 1 to allow construction vehicles free access to the stunt show construction site.
  • Sets from the Haunted Mansion movie are now open in the old Backstage Pass soundstage and will be open through April 2004.
  • 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.
  • New York Street is undergoing a great deal of construction to change some facades to represent Chicago, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. We do not yet have a target completion date for the newly-titled Big City Street yet.
  • The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights is reported to be returning on New York Street/Big City Street for this year.

Animal Kingdom

  • Kali River Rapids will be closed for refurbishment from Jan. 20 - 30.
  • TriceraTop Spin will be closed for refurbishment from Feb. 9 - March 16.
  • Dinosaur is rumored to be scheduled for a three month rehab from April through June.

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 and appears to be nearly complete. Phase II will involve Riverside going down in sections.
  • Polynesian Resort - This resort nearing completion of the refurbishment of longhouses. Each longhouse under rehab is walled off and isolated during its rehab. Niue and Rarotonga are the last remaining longhouses currently scheduled to undergo rehab, and were tentatively scheduled for Jan. 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 an announced grand opening date of May 27, 2004. Reservations are now available.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon is closed for refurbishment through Feb. 28.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba will be closed on Jan. 25-26, Feb. 1-4, March 14-17, June 20-July 5, August 22-25, October 17-20, and December 5-13.
  • 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.-9 p.m.

Park Events

Ongoing

  • Celebrate Mickey… 75 InspEARations (link) showcases 75 very special interestingly decorated Mickey statues to celebrate Mickey's 75th birthday throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. Now through April 2004.

January 2004

  • National Dance Team Championship (link) January 31 - February 1.

February 2004

  • This is Love merchandise event (link). February 4.
  • 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.
  • TwirlMania - The Twirler's Championships (link). February 20-23.

March 2004

  • National Cheerleading and Dance Championship (link) March 13 & 14.
  • Lights! Camera! Pins! pin trading event (link). March 27.

April 2004

  • Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (link). April 16 – June 6.
  • Grad Nights (link). April 23, 24, 30, and May 1.

May 2004

  • Walt Disney World Inline Marathon (link). May 2.
  • Florida Half Ironman Triathlon (link). May 23.
  • Disney Vacation Club Member Homecoming event/Saratoga Springs opening. May 25-27.
  • Star Wars Weekends (link). Weekends in May and June TBA.

June 2004

  • Gay Days (link). June 3–6. *
  • Family Pride Coalition Weekend (link). June 17-20. *

September 2004

  • Nights of Joy (link). September 10 & 11.

October 2004

  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (link). October 1 - November 14.
  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (link). Dates in October TBA.
  • Disney's 10K Classic (link). October 10.
  • Funai Classic at Walt Disney World (link). October 21-24.

November 2004

  • Super Soap Weekend (link). Dates in early November TBA.
  • Festival of the Masters at Downtown Disney (link). November 12 - 14.
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (link). Dates in November and December TBA.
  • Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney (link). November 26 - December 24.
  • Holidays Around the World (link). November 26 - December 30.

December 2004

  • New Year's Eve celebrations at Pleasure Island (link) and Atlantic Dance (link). December 31.

January 2005

  • Disney's Health and Fitness Expo (link). January 7 & 8.
  • FamilyFun Magazine Family Fun Run (link). January 8.
  • Disney Marathon (link) and Half-Marathon (link). January 9.

* Not official WDW events


Current Discounts & Promotions

Discount codes for February-April

Walt Disney World has announced new discount codes for Annual Passholders, Florida residents, and the general public for check-ins February 12 through April 17, 2004. General public rates start at $79 per night, while AP and Florida rates start at $74 per night. Visit disneyworld.com or MouseSavers for more details.

Florida resident Play Four Days pass returns

Disney's Play 4 Days pass for Florida residents is again on sale. The special pass is essentially a four-day park hopper pass for Florida residents that is available for $109 plus tax. The pass is good for theme park visits from January 4 through June 4, 2004, with blockout dates April 3-15 for the peak Easter week season. Passes are available at Walt Disney World theme parks, Florida Disney Stores, AAA offices. The cost of a Play 4 Days pass may be applied to a Florida resident Annual or Seasonal pass. For more information, guests can either visit disneyworld.com/play4days or call 407-WDW-4DAYS.

Discount codes for January-February

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.

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

Hours and entertainment schedules are currently available through March 2004.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
1/26
1/27
1/28
1/29
1/30
1/31
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

2/1
2/2
  • 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-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed

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


Entertainment Schedule

Hours and entertainment schedules are currently available through March 2004.

Theme Park Events

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 1/26

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 1/27

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 8p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 1/28

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 1/29

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Friday 1/30

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 1/31

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 7p

Wishes Fireworks 8p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 2/1

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 2/2

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Downtown Disney Entertainment

(Separate admission required)

Jazz Club
West End Stage
Rock & Roll Beach Club
House of Blues
Monday 1/26

Joy Wright

Kabang

The Big Idea

 

Tuesday 1/27

Joy Wright

Kabang

 

 

Wednesday 1/28

Joy Wright

Kabang

 

 

Thursday 1/29

Bill Allred

Kabang

The Big Idea

Keller Williams (main room) 8pm

Percy Struther (Blues kitchen) 11pm

Friday 1/30

Bill Allred

Kabang

The Big Idea

Orlando Rocks (main room) 8:30pm

James Peterson (Blues kitchen) 11pm

Saturday 1/31

Bill Allred

Kabang

The Big Idea

5th Annual Hannah's Buddies Charity Classic (main room) 8:30pm

James Peterson (Blues kitchen) 11am

Sunday 2/1

Elliot Dyson

Frankie & the West End Boys

 

The Chambers (Gospel brunch)

Monday 2/2

Elliot Dyson

Frankie & the West End Boys

 

 



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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.