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News and Views

Reedy Creek district to be re-examined

Florida State Rep. Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) asked Attorney General Charlie Crist to take a look at what effect a takeover of the Walt Disney Company would have on control of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. Whether Comcast or another company were to buy the entertainment giant, Gardiner and other area lawmakers wanted to be ready with a legal opinion on whether the unique governmental district should pass to the new entity, and if so, how.

Gardiner wanted to have the opinion completed by the end of the regular legislative session so that the Legislature could respond with any necessary legislation to address any issues identified by Crist.

In 1984, during the attempted takeover by Saul Steinberg and Irwin Jacobs before the arrival of Michael Eisner, there was an attempt to revisit the legislation, but the deals fell apart before the review was completed. However, the prevailing legal opinion at the time was that if Disney were purchased by another company, the Legislature would have to "reauthorize" Reedy Creek.

Mickey leaves early to help Mikey

As reported last week (link), the 75 six-foot-tall Mickey Mouse statues from the 75 InspEARations event abruptly disappeared from display at Walt Disney World overnight on February 24 because they had been “invited to a very special event at another location, which has resulted in their early departure.” It has now been revealed that the “special event” will be the Walt Disney Company's annual shareholder meeting in Philadelphia this week. The 75 shows of support might not help Disney Chairman and CEO Michael Eisner, though. And don't expect photo opportunities, either. Cameras, recording devices, and other electronic devices will not be permitted at the meeting.

On another note, when the Mickeys go on tour this summer, don't expect to see all 75 in one city. It appears that five cities will host Mickeys concurrently for each of two periods this summer. That comes out to about 15 Mickeys per city. The Mickeys won't be reunited unti they hit Disneyland in the fall.

Star Wars Weekends dates announced

This year's Star Wars Weekends will run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, from May 14 to June 13. According to Starwars.com (link), returning and new events include: the “Jedi Training Academy” for young Padawans, Star Wars editions of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play It,” Star Wars trivia contests, walk-around characters from all five Star Wars movies (including Queen Amidala, Darth Maul, Jango Fett, Greedo, and others), and event-exclusive merchandise. Celebrity appearances have not yet been announced.

Flower Power Concert Series acts confirmed

Disney has now confirmed on its Web site the list of acts for the Flower Power Concert Series during the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival. Performances take place in the America Gardens theater across the walkway from the American Adventure pavilion. There are three shows nightly at 5:45pm, 7:00pm and 8:15pm. The scheduled acts are:

  • Davy Jones – April 16-19
  • The Nelsons – April 20-23 covering Ricky Nelson's songs
  • BJ Thomas – April 24-27
  • Gary Puckett – April 28-May 1
  • Orleans – May 2-5
  • The Grass Roots – May 6-9
  • Dave Mason – May 10-13
  • The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie – May 14-17
  • Eric Burdon & The Animals – May 18-21
  • Paul Revere & The Raiders – May 22-25
  • Arlo Guthrie – May 26-28
  • Felix Cavaliere's Rascals – May 29 & 30
  • The Buckinghams – May 31-June 3
  • Lovin' Spoonful – June 4-6

ExxonMobil finished at WDW

Hess is replacing ExxonMobil as a WDW sponsor for gas stations on property. Hess is also said to be picking up sponsorship of part of the Wide World of Sports complex. There is no news yet on what will happen at the Universe of Energy, but the ExxonMobil guest lounge has been closed. The gas station changeover will occur as follows:

  • Magic Kingdom location: Closed February 24 at 10 p.m. and reopens March 8 as Hess Express
  • BoardWalk location: Closed February 25 at 6 a.m. and reopens March 15 as Hess Express
  • Pleasure Island location: Closes March 10 at 6 a.m. and reopens March 30 as Hess Express

Cruise to the East, cruise to the West

It seems highly likely that the Disney Cruise Line will be announcing a temporary relocation of the Disney Magic from Port Canaveral to a West Coast port next summer to coincide with the 50th anniversary celebration for Disneyland. While seven-day cruise dates are available on the Magic for spring and fall 2005, summer dates are currently not available due to “itinerary changes.”

If the Magic does indeed go West, keep an eye out for those Panama Canal cruises as it heads from one coast to the other.

WDW wins Gold Medal from Golf Magazine

Golf Magazine has recognized Walt Disney World as one of the nation's top 25 golf resorts. Readers and editors of the publication recognized the resort with its prestigious gold medal for the fifth time since 1992.

Through a consumer research firm, 25,000 readers were asked to consider resorts they had visited in the past two years and to rate them in a variety of categories—more than half pertaining to golf and the remainder about other aspects of resorts. The readers' responses were then analyzed by Golf Magazine editors who finalized the selections.

Gold and Silver Medal winners will be featured in the March edition of Golf Magazine.

Walt Disney World tops hotel operator survey

Walt Disney World Resort was the top-ranked hotel operator and top “upscale” hotel operator in a recent national customer satisfaction survey by Market Metrix, LLC, a leading provider of hospitality market research services.

The Market Metrix Hospitality Index (MMHI) is a quarterly report of customer satisfaction with hotel, airline and car rental companies based on 35,000 in-depth consumer interviews. The MMHI contains 135 hotel brands, 25 airlines and 11 car rental companies. The results for the fourth quarter of 2003 were released on February 3, 2004.

While this is the first win for Walt Disney World Resort overall, the hospitality company has won in the “Upscale Hotel” niche category for the last six quarters in a row.

Ears to the Ground

…The Earl of Sandwich shop at Downtown Disney is finally scheduled to open early this month.

…It seems that the rumor reported last week regarding Stitch's Great Escape was perhaps a bit too optimistic. The rumors (still unconfirmed) still agree that construction is ahead of schedule, but now point to a possible early summer date for soft openings.

…Due to “projected high attendance levels,” the Sword In the Stone show will not be performed on March 6, 8, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, and 29. Apparently, there is concern that huge lines for PhilharMagic on those days will cause enough of a traffic hazard without adding the crowd around the “stone.”


Got any interesting news or rumors? Contact Mark here.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • it's a small world” is rumored to be going down for rehab from June 7 of this year through March 18, 2005 for upgrades to the lighting, audio, and electrical systems, rehabs to sets and audio-animatronic figures, asbestos abatement, roof repair, regular water maintenance (draining and refilling), and the possible addition of a new scene.
  • The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter has closed for good. It is now undergoing a major rehab and reopens 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 is 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 the Jungle Cruise and the Enchanted Tiki Room – Under New Management) on Sundays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The upcoming schedule of peak days shows that the land will open at 9 a.m. on March 4, and March 6 - 25.
  • The Hall of Presidents and the Country Bear Jamboree also open at 10 a.m. every day.
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures will be closed for refurbishment from April 19 through May 21.
  • The Sword In the Stone show will not be performed on March 6, 8, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, and 29.

Epcot

  • It is expected that the Universe of Energy will close for a short rehab in March to remove the ExxonMobil signage after its pavilion sponsorship ends.
  • It appears that the Living Seas pavilion is 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 is open seasonally. 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 when the pavilion is open.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • Residential Street at the Disney-MGM Studios has been closed and demolished and construction is well underway to turn the site into Lights, Motors, Action!, an American version of the popular Moteurs… Action! stunt show from the Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris.
  • The Backlot Tour is closed through April 1 to allow construction vehicles free access to the stunt show construction site. Once the stunt show opens, the tour will run two routes. The first route, when the stunt show is not running, will go through the stunt show set. The second route, during the stunt show, will bypass the stunt show set.
  • Sets from the Haunted Mansion movie are now open in the old Backstage Pass soundstage and is open through April 2004.
  • The “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” Movie Set Adventure is closed for rehab May 3 to June 30.
  • New York Street is undergoing a great deal of construction to change some facades to represent Chicago and San Francisco. The Chicago facades appear to be complete, but we do not yet have a target completion date for the rest of the newly-titled Big City Street.
  • The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights is reportedly returning on New York Street/Big City Street for this year.

Animal Kingdom

  • TriceraTop Spin is closed for refurbishment from now thru March 16.
  • Dinosaur is closed for refurbishment from April 19 through June 1.

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 reopens on March 21. Phase II will involve Riverside going through a phased rehab. The Magnolia Bend mansions will go down one by one, followed by Alligator Bayou closing in sections.
  • Polynesian Resort is 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 are tentatively scheduled through May 2.
  • 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 ceremony date of May 27, however guests may stay at the Resort beginning May 17. Reservations are now available.

Water Parks

  • There are no current water park rehabs underway.

Elsewhere

  • Magic Kingdom gas station: Closed February 24 at 10 p.m. and reopens March 8 as Hess Express
  • BoardWalk gas station: Closed February 25 at 6 a.m. and reopens March 15 as Hess Express
  • Pleasure Island gas station: Closes March 10 at 6 a.m. and reopens March 30 as Hess Express
  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba is performing Tuesday through Saturday, but will be closed 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. to 9 p.m.

Park Events

Ongoing

  • Atlanta Braves training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex (link). Now through April 2.

March 2004

  • National Cheerleading and Dance Championship (link) March 13 & 14.
  • Lights! Camera! Pins! pin trading event (link). March 27.
  • Spring Premiere Sculpture Event debuts “I'm not Bad, I'm Just Drawn That Way,” a 5,000-unit limited edition porclain sculpture of Jessica Rabbit. Walt Disney Classics Collection event will be held both at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. March 26–28.

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). Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, May 14–June 13.

June 2004

  • Gay Days (link). June 3–6.[Not an official WDW event.]
  • Family Pride Coalition Weekend (link). June 17–20.[Not an official WDW event.]

July 2004

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex (link). Dates in July and August TBA.

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.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Disney Visa hotel-only and Summer Dream Maker discounts

MouseSavers has posted prices and rate codes for hotel-only reservations and Dream Maker packages. The rates are now available for booking. Vacations must be taken between April 18 and July 4. Reservations must be made by April 17. Visit MouseSavers for more details.

April-June discount codes for Fort Wilderness

MouseSavers is reporting new discount codes for stays at the Fort Wilderness campground for check-ins April 18 through June 5. Reservations must be made by March 31, and rates are subject to availability. Visit 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, 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, either visit the Play 4 Days Web page (link) or call 407-WDW-4DAYS (407-939-4329).

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 percent 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 April 2004.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
3/1
3/2
3/3
3/4
3/5
3/6
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

3/7
3/8
  • 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-8p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-5p
TL 10a-5p

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


Entertainment Schedule

Hours and entertainment schedules are currently available through May 2004.

Theme Park Events

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 3/1

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 3/2

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 7p

Wishes Fireworks 8p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 3/3

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 3/4

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Friday 3/5

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 3/6

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 3/7

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 8p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 3/8

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 8p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

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 3/1

Elliot Dyson

Harry Dash

 

 

Tuesday 3/2

Elliot Dyson

Harry Dash

 

 

Wednesday 3/3

Elliot Dyson

Harry Dash

Kabang

Soil with Man Made God and Silver Tide (main room), $10 8pm

Thursday 3/4

Sisaundra Lewis & Sounds of Soul

Harry Dash

Kabang

George Thorogood and The Destroyers with Los Lost Boys (main room), $27.50 8pm

The legendary Sonny Rhodes (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Friday 3/5

Sisaundra Lewis & Sounds of Soul

The Big Idea

Kabang

The legendary Sonny Rhodes (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Saturday 3/6

Sisaundra Lewis & Sounds of Soul

The Big Idea

Kabang

Solo Entertainment presents Victor Manuele (main room), $45 and up 9pm

The legendary Sonny Rhodes (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Sunday 3/7

Joy Wright

Harry Dash

Big Sky and Box Elder

The Original Drifters (gospel brunch), $30 adult, $15 child (3-9) 10:30am

An Evening with Willie Nelson (main room), $35 advance/$37.50 day of show 7:30pm

Monday 3/8

Joy Wright

Harry Dash

 

A.F.I. with Thursday and Coheed and Cambria, $19 8:15pm - SOLD OUT



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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.