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News and Views

Orange County Sheriff receives more groping complaints

The Orange County Sheriff's Office has received two dozen complaints regarding inappropriate touching by the Tigger character at Walt Disney World in the wake of the arrest of Michael Chartrand for allegedly fondling a woman and her daughter during a photo session. More than half of those are under active investigation, the others have not yet been deemed credible enough to pursue. Some of these complaints involve incidents that took place before Chartrand's hiring last August. Sheriff's Office investigators are trying to ensure that complainants are not merely trying to file a false claim to gain out-of-court settlements with Disney. The company is cooperating fully in the investigation and referring guests with complaints to the Sheriff's Office.

Many of the new complainants claim to have photographic or video evidence of the incidents. Based on incident reports released by the Sheriff's Office, most appear to involve the touching of the complainants' breasts or buttocks. Disney is staying quiet on the matter while the investigation is underway. Chartrand is also not commenting.

Reports indicate that Disney has increased the number of escorts accompanying the characters, perhaps to alleviate any "bad touch" problems from either the characters or the guests.

ExxonMobil logo is not here for long
With its sponsorship expired, ExxonMobil's logo is not expected on the Universe of Energy much longer. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Star Wars Weekend celebrities announced

Celebrity guests for the Star Wars Weekends have been announced. Here is the currently schedule. Remember, though, that schedules are subject to change.

  • May 14, 15 & 16 – Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett) and Jake Lloyd (young Anakin Skywalker)
  • May 21, 22 & 23 – Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and TBA
  • May 28, 29 & 30 – Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) & Andy Secombe (voice of Watto)
  • June 4, 5 & 6 – Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian)
  • June 11, 12 & 13 – Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett) and TBA

In addition to Star Wars costumed characters, activities, and the Star Tours theme park ride, celebrity guests will attend meet-and-greet sessions, star conversations, and a classic Hollywood-style motorcade.

Character bowling balls at Pop Century
Character bowling balls are available for purchase at the Pop Century Resort. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Kiddie Concierge at Magic Kingdom

The Magic Kingdom is offering a Kiddie Concierge lounge for guests with children age 5 and under from April 6 to 17 from noon until 5 p.m., located next to the Space Mountain entrance in Tomorrowland at the former FedEx Lounge.

At the Kiddie Concierge Lounge, guests can relax and take a quick break with their preschoolers to enjoy:

  • A place out of the heat
  • Child-friendly furniture and toys
  • Zephyrhills water from a cooler
  • A microwave to heat food or bottles
  • Restrooms
  • Changing tables
  • A quiet room for nursing
  • Guest Relations cast to assist with priority seating, Guide Maps, Guest Assistance cards, and more.

The Kiddie Concierge is not offering anything for purchase, and guests must remain with their children at all times. Information about this lounge will be distributed on a flyer, similar to a Times Guide, via:

  • April 6 – 10: Distributed by Guest Relations cast as guests rent strollers at the Park entrance.
  • April 11 – 17: Distributed by Resort cast cembers at the bus stops.

Animales Fantasticos
The current display in the Mexican Folk Art gallery at Epcot is called Animales Fantasticos. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Downtown Disney construction update

ICON (a new high-end sunglasses shop) has now opened, replacing Celebrity Eyeworks Co.

Arribas Brothers Eurospain shop has completed its facade work.

The merchandise at Art of Disney has been reorganized, and a customized artwork system has been installed.

Ears to the Ground

…The parks have been packed in the last week, with all parks seeing phased closings begin on various days. It is rumored that some attendance records have been broken.

Night of Joy tickets go on sale Wednesday, April 21.

…The latest rumor that I've heard regarding the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea lagoon is that it will be filled in to become a new Meet-and-Greet area as an extension of Toon Town, of all things. No word on whether it will be a new entryway to the land. An alternate rumor indicates a Hundred-Acre Wood Meet-and-Greet. It may undergo a further rehab to house a new E-ticket ride within a few years. Bear in mind that this is only at rumor stage now, and may have no basis in fact.

…There are now reports that cars are starting to arrive for the Lights! Motors! Action! stunt show at the Disney-MGM Studios. There are several Opel Corsas so far, along with one Disney movie star. Yep, it looks like ol' Number 53 will be in the lineup. No confirmation on this one yet.

…Work is now progressing on a San Francisco backdrop on Big City Street at the Studios, near the former Hunchback theater.

…The Fountainview Cafe has reportedly added a sandwich meal deal to its beverage and bakery menu.

…A new, nicely landscaped fountain has been installed near the walkway between Mission: Space and Test Track in Epcot.

Animales interior sign
This sign shows that the Animales Fantasticos exhibit features woodcarvings of spirits. Photo by Brian Bennett.


Have any interesting news or rumors? Let us know.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • it's a small world” – 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), replacement of boats, and the rumored swapping of the entry and exit queues for better traffic flow.
  • The ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter – closed for good. It is now undergoing a major rehab and reopens in fall 2004 as Stitch's Great Escape. The official opening of the new attraction now appears targeted to September 1.
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress – expected to remain open for the duration of the Stitch's Great Escape construction.
  • Timekeeper – returned to seasonal operation.
  • 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 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will then close from April 25 through May 14 for a rehab.
  • Splash Mountain – open at noon from May 10-14 for final work related to the rehab that caused late openings earlier this year.
  • The Hall of Presidents and the Country Bear Jamboree also open at 10 a.m. every day.
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures – closed for refurbishment from April 19 through May 21.
  • The Enchanted Grove – closed for rehab from April 18 through May 23.
  • The Sword In the Stone show – no performances through the spring break season, and will begin its return on April 25.

Animales amigos
The Amigos (“friends” in Spanish) carvings capture the human moments of community in Oaxaca, Mexico for the Animales Fantasticos exhibit. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Epcot

  • The Universe of Energy – expected to close for a short rehab shortly to remove the ExxonMobil signage now that its pavilion sponsorship has ended.
  • 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 – 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 – 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 – 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. Note: New information indicates that Pure and Simple will be open with the pavilion during the Spring Break 2004 season.
  • Restaurant Akershus – open for the Princess Character Breakfast only from April 18 through May 10, but not open for lunch and dinner during that time.

Animales carousel
This carousel was commissioned specifically for the Animales Fantasticos exhibit. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • The Backlot Tour – reopened to guests, with new restroom facilities available as well.
  • Residential Street at the Disney-MGM Studios – 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.
  • Sets from the Haunted Mansion movie – now open in the old Backstage Pass soundstage and is open through April 2004.
  • The Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – closed for rehab May 3 to June 30.
  • New York Street – undergoing a great deal of construction to change some facades to represent Chicago and San Francisco. The Chicago facades appear to be complete, while San Francisco is underway. The target completion date for the rest of the newly-titled Big City Street is October 2.
  • The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights – reported to be returning on New York Street/Big City Street for this year, though some doubt has been cast on that, saying that it might not be until next year after the Lights, Motors, Action! stunt show opens.

Animales craftsman
The Animales Fantasticos exhibit features a live craftsman creating woodcarvings for purchase. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Animal Kingdom

  • Dinosaur – planned refurbishment has been pushed back a few days, and will now run from April 24 through June 4. Rumor has it that the problematic Fastpass merge point will receive some attention to improve crowd flow.

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 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 – 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 – officially 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.

Animales fiestas
These woodcarvings at the Animales Fantasticos exhibit celebrate Oaxacan festivals. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Water Parks

  • No current water park rehabs underway.

Elsewhere

  • World Drive – to 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.
  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – to 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 – now closed Monday-Wednesday. It is open Thursday-Sunday, from 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Animales mar
The Animales Fantasticos exhibit features sea creatures carved by the landlocked Oaxacan artists. Photo by Brian Bennett.


Park Events

April 2004

  • Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (link). April 16 – June 6.
  • Grad Nights (link). April 23, 24, 30, 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 – June 13.

June 2004

  • Gay Days (link). June 3 – 6.[Not official WDW events.]
  • National Kidney Foundation 5K for Organ & Tissue Donation Awareness (link) . June 12.
  • 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 and 31.
  • 2004 Komen Central Florida Race For The Cure 5K (link). October 9.
  • Disney's 10K Classic (link). October 10.
  • Funai Classic at Walt Disney World (link). October 21 – 24.
  • 999 Happy Haunts event. Dinner: October 25. Gathering: October 27.

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). November 28 and 30, December 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 17.
  • 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 through 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.

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 to 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 percent 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 June 2004.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
4/12
4/13
4/14
4/15
4/16
4/17
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

4/18
4/19
  • 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-8:30p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p

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


Entertainment Schedule

Hours and entertainment schedules are currently available through June 2004.

Theme Park Events

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 4/12

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, 10p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 4/13

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, 10p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 4/14

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, 10p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 4/15

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, 10p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Friday 4/16

Share a Dream Come True Parade 2p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Great American Gardeners Series: Paul James 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: Davy Jones 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p, 10p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 4/17

Share a Dream Come True Parade 2p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Great American Gardeners Series: Paul James 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: Davy Jones 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p, 10p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 4/18

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 8:30p

Great American Gardeners Series: Paul James 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: Davy Jones 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 4/19

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8:30

Wishes Fireworks 9:30p

Disney Gardening@Home: Adding Style with Containers 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: Davy Jones 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

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 4/12

Joy Wright

Harry Dash

 

An Evening with Jagures (main room), $19.50 in advance, $21.50 day of show 9pm

Tuesday 4/13

Joy Wright

Harry Dash

 

Morbid Angel with Premonitions of War, Catyricon and Sufficaton (main room), $19.50 in advance, $22.50 day of show 7pm

Wednesday 4/14

Joy Wright

Harry Dash

Kabang

Little River Band with TBA (main room), $17.50 in advance, $19.50 day of show 8pm

Thursday 4/15

Bobby Pickwood

Harry Dash

Kabang

Johnny Winter with Pat Travers (main room), $17.50 in advance, $19.50 day of show 8pm

Jay Owens (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Friday 4/16

Bobby Pickwood

Harry Dash

Kabang

Orlando Rocks! With IGNID, Sucker Punch, The Kick and All Natural (main room), $5 in advance, $7 day of show 7:30pm

Willie Lomax Blues Revue Featuring Sean Brown (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Saturday 4/17

Bobby Pickwood

Harry Dash

Kabang

Method Man with DJ Jesse Jazz and MIMS (main room), $17.50 in advance, $19.50 day of show 8 pm

Damon Fowler (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Sunday 4/18

Elliot Dyson

Kabang

 

Daniel James and the Revelation (gospel brunch), $30 adult, $15 child (3-9) 10:30am, 1p

Monday 4/19

Elliot Dyson

Kabang

 

 



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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.