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News and Views

Departure of Mickey statues creates angry fans; Janet Jackson-designed statue replaced

The early departure of the Celebrate Mickey 75 InspEARations statues from Walt Disney World for their (ineffective) attempt to soften voting shareholders at the Walt Disney Company's annual meeting in Philadelphia left some people out in the cold. The Orlando Sentinel reported (link) on families who had planned their vacations specifically around viewing them, and were upset at their sudden departures. Some had even cancelled their vacations because of the change.

Janet Jackson Mickey
The Janet Jackson-designed “Mickey's Nation 1928” is no longer among the 75 InspEARations statues. Photo © Disney.

However, one Mickey did not go to Philadelphia. The “Mickey's Nation 1928” statue designed by Janet Jackson has been removed from the field of Mickeys and replaced by “Circle Vision,” a spare statue designed by Luis Fernandez, vice president of Global Creative Studio Television for Disney Consumer Products.

The Jackson statue was based on the costume that she wore on her tour to promote the “Rhythm Nation 1814” tour in 1990. The statue, removed because of a desire to distance the company from the controversy surrounding Jackson's breast-baring Super Bowl performance, will not be rejoining the other Mickeys for their national tour this summer. Instead, the Fernandez statue will make appearances in two cities, as the 75 statues split into five groups of 15 statues that will stop in two cities each before reassembling at Disneyland this fall.

Luis Fernandez Mickey statue
“Circle Vision,” designed by Luis Fernandez, is going on tour to replace the Jackson statue. Photo © Disney.

High-speed rail battle heats up

Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher have announced their backing for an effort to place on this year's election ballot a repeal of the constitutional amendment mandating the implementation of a high-speed bullet train across Florida. The first section of rail to be built would run between Tampa and Orlando International Airport at speeds of up to 125 miles per hour, with a stop at Walt Disney World, starting in 2009.

The effort, called DErail the Bullet Train (DEBT), will try to show how the cost of the rail system would cause undue financial hardship on the state, as the financial commitments by the Federal government and local private industry will not come close to covering the rapidly escalating price of the construction. The project, currently estimated at $2.6 billion, was approved by voters as a constitutional amendment in 2000. However, the effort will need to gather 489,000 signatures on their petitions in the next five months to put the issue on the ballot.

Soarin' construction towers over Canada
The new Soarin' building towers over the Canada pavilion in Epcot. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Hess gets naming rights to sports fields; Universe of Energy sponsorless

As reported here last week (“ExxonMobil finished at WDW”), Amerada Hess is replacing ExxonMobil as a WDW sponsor for gas stations on property. Transition of the station at the Car Care Center should be completed today, with the others opening next Monday and March 30.

Hess is also sponsoring all sports fields at the Wide World of Sports complex. The multi-year agreement allows for a 20-acre expansion of the 200-acre complex. Four multi-sport fields and four baseball-softball diamonds will be added to the existing four fields for football, soccer, and other sports. The Hess Sports Fields will accommodate more than 10 sports upon completion of the new venue.

It appears that the Diamondplex complex of six softball fields will not be included in the naming rights. Other sponsored venues at the naming rights-enhanced Wide World of Sports include CrackerJack Stadium (Frito-Lay), Town Green (Toro Company), and the Milk House (“Got Milk?” and milk moustache campaign).

The announcement of the agreement, which did not include the length of the agreement, made no mention of the Universe of Energy pavilion at Epcot, so it appears that with the end of ExxonMobil's sponsorship, the pavilion will run with no sponsor dollars to support it. Other Future World pavilions without current sponsors include Wonders of Life (now running seasonally) and The Living Seas, which will undergo an extensive rehab in the near future. No word on what the future holds for Energy.

Imagination gets a much-needed cleaning
The metalwork on the Imagination pavilion is getting a much-needed cleaning. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Duperval freed by Haitian rebels

Former Walt Disney World watercraft host Jean-Claude Duperval, who was deported to Haiti and imprisoned on mass-murder charges, has been freed by Haitian rebels. Duperval and thousands of other convicts were freed from their Port-au-Prince prison when rebels took the city. Duperval, convicted in absentia in 2000 for his role in the 1994 massacre in Raboteau, has contacted family in central Florida by cell phone from an undisclosed location. It is uncertain what will happen next in Haiti, as the political situation remains unsettled.

Global Neighborhood closed: Rehab or Time Racers?

The Global Neighborhood post-show for Spaceship Earth is now walled off, although it is not currently on publicly accessible rehab lists. Since AT&T's sponsorship is renewing on a short-term basis, speculation on the reason for the closure seems split between a general rehab to either remove references to AT&T or just to spruce up the place—or construction of the long-rumored Time Racers post-show, which is a component of Project Gemini.

Starring Rolls is closed for rehab
The Starring Rolls bakery at the Disney-MGM Studios is closed for rehab. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Earl of Sandwich finally open

After a construction period that took far longer than announced , the Earl of Sandwich shop at Downtown Disney has opened. Initial reviews of the food are good, and prices appear to be low for Disney. Hot sandwiches are $4.95, wraps are $4.45, cold sandwiches are $3.95, salads are $4.95 and $5.95, and breakfast sandwiches are $4.95. An assortment of beverages and desserts provide a light meal for shoppers on the go. Check out AllEarsNet for the full menu (link).

Goofy's Epcot Guide debuts

Looking for something for the children to do at Epcot, but they've done the Kidcot masks enough times that it bores them? Don't worry, the new Goofy's Epcot Guide “scavenger hunt” has come to the rescue. Apparently, up to 3,500 copies of the guide (which debuted yesterday) will be available each day at the the main and International Gateway entrances, Guest Relations, the Tip Board, and all Kidcot locations. Children can follow the directions in the guide to travel around Epcot and do activities. When complete, the guides can be redeemed at Guest Relations, Mexico and Canada Kidcot locations, and the World Traveler shop at the International Gateway for an 8.5-inch by 11-inch character poster. One poster will be distributed for each Guide turned in.

Tatooine Traders rehab
Some facade work is being done on Tatooine Traders. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Registration still open for all Marathon events

Registration is still open for all 2005 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend events. Events include:

  • Disney's Health & Fitness Expo, January 7 and 8, 2005
  • Family Fun Run 5K and Kids' Races, January 8, 2005
  • Marathon, January 9, 2005
  • Half Marathon, January 9, 2005
  • Post Race Celebration, to be announced
  • Awards Ceremony, to be announced.

For more information, go to the Disney's Wide World of Sports site (link).

Casa Mexicana shows modern Mexico to contrast with traditional Plaza de los Amigos

A new exhibit, entitled “Casa Mexicana: Discover Modern Mexico,” has replaced the Artesanias Mexicanas shop on the left side of the Plaza de los Amigos inside the pavilion. The exhibit shows a modern Mexican “house,” ostensibly occupied by the Pakatilchi family. There is a courtyard in the downstairs area in front of the stairs where children can make masks. An interactive viewing station lets guests explore various regions of Mexico. Other exhibits include a dining room with displays on Mexican food, a study with tourism information, a display on Mexican music and a “make your own video postcard” kiosk.

Mexico gets a touch-up
Facade work is being done on Mexico. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Ears to the Ground

…WDWMagic has some great shots of the Expedition: Everest roller coaster track being installed at the Animal Kingdom (link).

Shades of Green reopened for guests on March 1, though construction work continues.

…The princess float and parade stops have yet to make their return to the Share a Dream Come True Parade following the fatal accident that killed cast member Javier Cruz.

…The popular Masquerade performance at Epcot's Italy Pavilion will cease performances after April 24. As of yet there is no reason on why this show is going away, or whether a new act will replace it.

Expedition: Everest model
Joe Rohde (center) works with the team preparing the model for Expedition: Everest. Photo © Disney.

…It appears that the upcoming rehab on Snow White's Scary Adventures is to upgrade the ride control mechanisms to split the control panels for ride dispatch and unload. The addition of the unload panel is the only known upgrade during the one-month rehab.

…The Home on the Range pre-parade is now running in the Magic Kingdom. The mini-parade steps off at 2 p.m. and includes two floats, riders on horseback, dancers, and character puppets. The character of Pearl (the owner of the Patch of Heaven farm in the movie) invites guests to join the square dance. The parade features the song “A Little Patch of Heaven” from the film, sung by k. d. lang.

…The Canada, Mexico, and Imagination pavilions are undergoing facade rehabs at the moment.

Expedition: Everest concept art
This concept art shows a planned view of Expedition: Everest across Discovery River. Photo © Disney.


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.
  • 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. every day from now through March 25.
  • Hall of Presidents and Country Bear Jamboree also open at 10 a.m. every day.
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures closes for refurbishment from April 19 through May 21.
  • The Sword In the Stone show will not be performed on March 8, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, and 29.

Epcot

  • Universe of Energy is expected to close for a short rehab in March to remove the ExxonMobil signage after its pavilion sponsorship ends.
  • Living Seas pavilion appears to be 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure will be closed for rehab May 3 - 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.
  • Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights is reported to be 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 will be 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 – has now reopened.
  • 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 Is scheduled to reopen today as Hess Express
  • BoardWalk gas station is closed February 25 at 6am and reopens March 15, 2004 as Hess Express
  • Pleasure Island gas station closes March 10 at 6am and reopens March 30, 2004 as Hess Express
  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba performs Tuesday through Saturday, but is closed March 14-17, June 20-July 5, August 22-25, October 17-20, and December 5-13.
  • 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

  • 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.

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 to June 13.

June 2004

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

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

All-guests discounts for hotel-only and Dream Maker packages available Tuesday

Discount rates for April through July will be available starting Tuesday, March 9. MouseSavers will post the codes that morning, and they should be available form booking at DisneyWorld.com (link) that morning as well.

Disney Visa hotel-only and Summer Dream Maker discounts announced

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 May 2004.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
3/8
3/9
3/10
3/11
3/12
3/13
 

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

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

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

3/14
3/15
  • 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-11p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7:30p
AK 9a-6p
BB 10a-5p
TL 10a-5p

MK 9a-11p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7:30p
AK 9a-6p
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 3/8

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

Tuesday 3/9

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 3/10

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 3/11

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

Friday 3/12

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

Saturday 3/13

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p, 10p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 3/14

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p, 10p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 3/15

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p, 10p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic 7:30p

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 3/8

Joy Wright

Harry Dash

 

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

Tuesday 3/9

Joy Wright

Harry Dash

 

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

Wednesday 3/10

Joy Wright

Harry Dash

Kabang

Ludacris with Chingy, David Banner, and Nocturnal (main room), $39.50 7:30pm

Thursday 3/11

Tierney Allen

Stormbringer

Kabang

Longeau Parsons (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Friday 3/12

Tierney Allen

Kabang

Stormbringer

Jim Breuer in Willie's Basement with Pete Coreale (main room), $17.50 and up 8:30pm

Dr. Hector and the Blues Injectors (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Saturday 3/13

Tierney Allen

Kabang

Stormbringer

Steve-O with DJ Lost Robot and Overdale (main room), $19.50 in advance/$22.50 day of show 8:30pm

Lee Boys (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Sunday 3/14

Elliot Dyson

Kabang

 

Daniel James & Revelation (gospel brunch), $30 adult, $15 child (3-9) 10:30am

Erykah Badu with Floetry (main room), $35 advance/$37.50 day of show 7pm

Monday 3/15

Elliot Dyson

Kabang

 

The Strokes with The Sounds (main room), $25 advance/$27.50 day of show 8:15pm



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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.