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News and Views

Park pass prices jump, Disney now top price in town

Yesterday, Walt Disney World tickets took another leap upward, surpassing Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando as the top ticket in town. Following the price hike at the other main Orlando attractions to $53.95 within days of each other at the beginning of the year, Disney waited almost three months before topping those prices by 80 cents before tax. Prices are rising for Park Hopper, Park Hopper Plus, Annual and Premium Annual Passes, as well as tickets to Cirque du Soleil and Wide World of Sports. Unchanged are Florida Resident, Pleasure Island, Water Park and Disney Quest passes.

Advance purchase discounts are still in effect for Park Hopper and Park Hopper Plus passes. Discounted prices have risen from $6 to $13, with a savings of $14 to $26, depending on the pass. A chart showing discount prices is below.

Park Hopper Plus passes rise $13 per adult pass and $10 per child pass. Ordinary Park Hoppers, Annual Passes, and Premium Annual Passes go up $10 to $11 per adult and $8 to $9 per child. Wide World of Sports tickets rise 47 cents for adults, and 24 cents for children. Cirque ticket prices only change $3 and $1 for Category 1 and 2 adult passes, but rise a whopping $10 and $5 for Category 1 and 2 child passes. Category 3 passes remain unchanged.

Sample prices include APs rising to $379 and PAPs to $499 for adults, $322 and $424 for children. Five-day Park Hopper Plus passes rise to $282 for adults, $226 for children.

Note that all ticket prices listed in this article do not include the 6.5 percent Orange County sales tax.


The green of Hess has been replacing the blue of ExxonMobil at the gas stations around the Walt Disney World resort. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Disney part-timers ratify contract

About 6,500 part-time cast members at Walt Disney World will be getting raises after ratifying a new contract with the company. The minimum wage increases from $6.35 per hour to $6.70 per hour immediately, and to $6.80 in October. This will be followed by further raises between 2.5 percent and 3 percent per year. This marks the first contract for part-time staffers at the resort.

The Orlando Sentinel quoted Margie Engels, secretary-treasurer of the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union Local 737, as saying, "It sends a clear message to the company that just working for Disney doesn't cut it anymore ... The pixie dust has faded ... The workers want guarantees. They want it spelled out how they should be treated at work. They want guaranteed wage increases that they've never had before."

Part-timers are defined as working full time for less than 70 percent of the year, or less than 25 hours per week year round.

This isn't the end of the labor negotiations for Disney, however. The contract covering nearly half of the resort's full-time cast members expires in May.

Lawmaker pushes some more for review of Reedy Creek district

Last month, Florida Representative Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) asked the state Attorney General's office to review the legislation that created the Reedy Creek Improvement District to see if the status of the Disney-controlled district would change if the company were sold, in light of the offer made by Comcast. The Attorney General's office responded last week in a one-page letter that stated that the district's status appeared to not be affected by a possible purchase. Gardiner, not happy with the lack of a definitive statement, has asked the state Legislature to review the legislation. Gardiner has submitted a letter to the Joint Legislative Auditing Committee, which is expected to prompt discussion of the nearly 40-year-old District.

Flying Fish gets new executive chef

Jens Dahlmann, currently executive chef at Caf L'Europe in Palm Beach, takes over the same position at the Flying Fish Cafe at the Boardwalk Resort on April 16. The position has been vacant since the previous chef to hold the position, Robert Curry, returned to California last month. Curry had held the position since 2002. It is not yet known what, if any, menu changes are on the way.


The Flying Fish Cafe gets a new executive chef in a couple of weeks. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Wishes CD finally out

The long-awaited soundtrack CD for the Wishes fireworks spectacular at the Magic Kingdom has finally landed in stores. The disc appeared in the Emporium and World of Disney on Tuesday, and is now shipping from Walt Disney World Mail Order. It is selling for $12, but beware of shipping charges.

PhilharMagic's success stops Sword in the Stone show on peak days

The Sword in the Stone show in Fantasyland appears to be a victim of the success of Mickey's PhilharMagic. Due to the long lines from the PhilharMagic theater and the crowds making their way past them, there really isn't enough room to safely run the Sword show, especially at peak periods. We've heard that Merlin will be cooling his heels between March 30 and April 24, with only Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday shows the following week. This situation will most likely be repeated at other peak times of the year.

Lenox Classics Signing Event this week

The three good fairies from Disney's Sleeping Beauty—Flora, Fauna and Merryweather—are brand new Lenox Classics figurines available at the Walt Disney World Resort in a limited release before general public offering in July (link). On April 2 and 3, Dory Menzel of the Lenox Classics Design Team will be signing purchased figurines. The figurine preview sales and signing take place at the Art of Disney in Downtown Disney on Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Art of Disney in Epcot on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Five hundred of each figurine will be available. If you cannot attend, you can call Walt Disney Event Services at 407-827-7600 to order your Lenox figurines. Wish list orders will be taken through Friday. Flora, Fauna and Merryweather are available while supplies last at $79 per figurine.


The Home on the Range preparade continues to run in the Magic Kingdom through April 16. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Ears to the Ground

Stitch's Great Escape now appears to be heading for a July date for early sneak previews. Cast previews would take place in late July, with soft openings in August. The official dedication and grand opening would be in the October 1 time frame. Remember that these are still unconfirmed rumors, and should not be the basis for vacation planning.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party is expanding again this year. The event has expanded from five nights in 2001 to seven nights in 2002, 10 nights in 2003, and now 13 nights in 2004! The dates that we've heard are October 1, 3, 8, 12, 14, 17, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, 30 and 31. We do not yet have a date for the tickets to go on sale yet.

…It appears that Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party will remain at 12 nights this year, but dates are not yet available.

…Schedule changes: On April 22 and May 2, the Magic Kingdom will close at 6:30 p.m. for a private event. On Thursday, April 8, the Disney-MGM Studios will host the Extra Magic Hour instead of the Magic Kingdom.

Timekeeper will be running for the Easter season, from now through April 17. Hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Saturday through April 17.

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Caf will be serving breakfast on April 3 to 17 from park opening until 10:30 a.m. Breakfast meals run from $3.59 to $5.59.

…When Mickey's Star Traders reopens on Friday, it will sport a total remodel with new lighting fixtures, floor, ceiling, and much more. There are even special appearances of Stitch in the murals.

…On Easter Sunday, April 11, Catholic Mass services will be held at Disney's Contemporary Resort Ballroom at 8 and 10:15 a.m.

…As special added attractions for the peak Easter season, from April 5 to 11 guests will be able to meet and greet the Easter Bunny. There will also be trolley shows on Main Street, U.S.A. on those dates.

Magic Kingdom park hours have been extended for most of the month of April. The longer hours include 8 a.m. openings most days, and added parades on selected days as well.

World Drive will be undergoing a repaving project from late April through the end of May. Watch for delays and lane closures along this main route into the resort.

…There are no E-Ride nights scheduled at least through May.

…With the return of guests to the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, the river cruise between Port Orleans and Downtown Disney has added two new boats to handle the increased demand. The river cruise service will run from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.


Have any interesting news or rumors? Let us know.


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 reopens Friday.
  • 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 May 1. In addition, the Jungle Cruise and the Tiki Room will open at 9 a.m. from April 4 through April 17.
  • El Pirata y el Perico will be open for the holiday season, from April 1 through April 24. The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. from April 4 - 10, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the other days. It will then close from April 25 through May 14 for a rehab.
  • 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 Enchanted Grove will be closed for rehab from April 19 through May 31.
  • The Sword In the Stone show will not be performed on March 22, 23, 24, 27, and 29.

Epcot

  • The Universe of Energy is expected to close for a short rehab in March to remove the ExxonMobil signage after its pavilion sponsorship ends.
  • The 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.
  • 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 are now open when the pavilion is open. Note: New information indicates that Pure and Simple will be open with the pavilion during the Spring Break 2004 season.
  • Restaurant Akershus opens for the Princess Character Breakfast only from April 18 through May 10. It will not be open for lunch and dinner during that time.

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 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. The target completion date for the rest of the newly-titled Big City Street is October 2.
  • The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights is reported to be returning on New York Street/Big City Street for this year.

Animal Kingdom

  • Pocahontas and her Forest Friends will be closed for a minor rehab to the stage and theater from March 23-29.
  • Dinosaur will be closed for refurbishment from April 19 through June 1.

Resorts

  • 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 reopened yesterday. 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. Tokelau, Tahiti, and Rapa Nui have not yet been refurbished, but they have not yet been scheduled, either.
  • Shades of Green – has now reopened, though construction is ongoing.
  • 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

  • World Drive will be undergoing a repaving project from late April through the end of May. Watch for delays and lane closures along this main route into the resort.
  • Magic Kingdom & BoardWalk gas stations: Have reopened as Hess Express
  • Pleasure Island gas station: Closed March 10 and reopens March 30 as Hess Express
  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba is performing Tuesdays through Saturdays, but will be closed 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

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

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.
  • Danskin Women's Triathlon (link). May 16.
  • 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 9-11.
  • Disney's International Distance Triathlon (link). September 26.

October 2004

  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (link). October 1 – November 14.
  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (link). October 1, 3, 8, 12, 14, 17, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, 30 and 31.
  • 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

Students get "Spring Price Break" at Pleasure Island

College or university students 18 years of age or older with a valid student ID can take advantage of a 25 percent discount on admission tickets to Pleasure Island. Students must ask for the special discount at the Downtown Disney Pleasure Island box office. The offer is valid until April 16, 2004.

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

Discount rates for Annual Passholders, Florida Residents, and general guests for stay from April 18 to July 4 are now available. Visit MouseSavers for more details.

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 $26 per adult, per ticket with the “Advance Purchase Savings” program. These prices are before the 6.5% Orange County sales tax.

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
$219
$202
$17
     Children ages 3 - 9
$176
$162
$14
5-Day Park Hopper: Adults
$249
$230
$19
     Children ages 3 - 9
$200
$184
$16
5-Day Park Hopper Plus: Adults
$282
$259
$23
     Children ages 3 - 9
$226
$208
$18
6-Day Park Hopper Plus: Adults
$312
$288
$24
     Children ages 3 - 9
$250
$231
$21
7-Day Park Hopper Plus: Adults
$342
$316
$26
     Children ages 3 - 9
$274
$253
$21

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
 
3/29
3/30
3/31
4/1
4/2
4/3
 

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

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

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

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

MK 9a-9p
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

4/4
4/5
  • 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 9a-9p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 8a-7p
BB 9a-7p
TL 9a-7p

MK 8a-12a
EF 9a-9p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-10p
AK 8a-7p
BB 9a-7p
TL 9a-7p


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 3/29

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 3/30

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic 7:30p, 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 3/31

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 8p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 4/1

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Friday 4/2

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4p

Fantasmic 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 4/3

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

Sunday 4/4

Share a Dream Come True Parade 2p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 4/5

Share a Dream Come True Parade 1p, 4p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p, 10p

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 3/29

Elliot Dyson

Kabang

 

 

Tuesday 3/30

Elliot Dyson

Kabang

 

 

Wednesday 3/31

Elliot Dyson

Kabang

Frankie & the West End Boys

 

Thursday 4/1

Big Al & the Heavyweights

Kabang

Frankie & the West End Boys

102 JAMZ Spring Jam '04 featuring Ying Yang Twins with Mario Winans, Mr. Vegas, Trillville and Pit Bull (main room), $25 8pm

TBA (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Friday 4/2

Big Al & the Heavyweights

Kabang

Frankie & the West End Boys

Buddy Guy with Double Trouble (main room), $29.50 in advance/$32.50 day of show 8:15pm

TBA (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Saturday 4/3

Big Al & the Heavyweights

Kabang

Frankie & the West End Boys

Bela Fleck & the Flecktones with Susan Tedeschi (main room), $27.50 in advance, $29.50 day of show 8:30pm

TBA (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Sunday 4/4

Joy Wright

Tropical Idea

 

 

Monday 4/5

Joy Wright

Tropical Idea

 

 



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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.