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News and Views

Soarin' where?

A reliable source has told MousePlanet that, despite earlier rumors indicating a direct lift of the Soarin' movie from Disney's California Adventure park, the new Epcot attraction's movie at opening will “at least” be “Soarin' Over the United States.”

ExxonMobil logo is not here for long
The new Soarin' attraction is expected to feature the entire United States, not just California. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Masquerade gone

Epcot's Masquerade held its last performance on Saturday. The entertainment show, which helped to inspire the Epcot Kidcot masks, was initiated in 1999.

Firefighters approve contract

The firefighters and emergency workers of the Reedy Creek Fire Department have approved a new three-year contract, which was reached early on March 17, after nearly two and a half years of negotiation. A 100-percent turnout of the 123 members covered by the contract approved the by a three-to-one margin. The contract still needs to be approved by the Reedy Creek board of supervisors, who will vote on the agreement this Thursday.

Harry Holt dies

Harry Holt, who worked for Disney for 20 years as an animator on such films as Snow White and Lady and the Tramp, then returned to the company and became chief designer of maquette figures during the construction of Walt Disney World, has died at age 93. He retired in 1982, but returned to Walt Disney World in 1987 to sign replicas and photostatic copies of his Disney character sketches in the Main Street Exhibition Hall in Town Square in the Magic Kingdom until retiring again in 1993.

Animales Fantasticos
Tinkerbell is the star of a featured topiary at this year's Flower & Garden Festival. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Cypress Gardens reveals reopening plans

New Cypress Gardens owner Kent Buescher revealed his plans for the park last week. It appears that he has come up with a way to satisfy both the faithful attendees and those looking for a new thrill experience. The park will essentially be two parks in one, with the traditional area including the waterski show and the botanical gardens on one side, and as many as 36 thrill rides on the other.

The ride portion of the park will include four roller coasters, two water rides, and a free-fall tower. Next year, a water park will be added. The plan appears to be meeting with approval from the long-time fans of the park.

While missing his originally planned Memorial Day opening, Buescher stated that he wants to try to open by July 1. If that were not possible, he would delay the opening to October 1.

Disney hotels and restaurant win seven AAA Four Diamond Awards

One Walt Disney World restaurant and six hotel properties have won 2004 AAA Four Diamond Awards. Disney's Beach Club Resort, Disney's Beach Club Villas and Disney's BoardWalk Villas are all first-time winners of the award. Repeating prior awards are Disney's BoardWalk (7th award), Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (15th award) and Disney's Yacht Club Resort (13th award). Jiko–The Cooking Place, a restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, was honored for the second time in the dining category.

Animales interior sign
A new water garden designed for the Flower & Garden Festival is located near Mission: Space. Photo by Brian Bennett.

SeaWorld adds fireworks

SeaWorld Orlando will be testing a nighttime display of fireworks and lasers this summer. The 20-minute Mistify show at the park's new Waterfront area is SeaWorld's latest attempt to boost crowds and keep them in the park longer. The show is said to feature proprietary pyrotechnics, laser projections, and other special effects. It will run nightly from early July through Labor Day, and park officials will evaluate the show to determine its long-term fate. The show and other new evening entertainment are designed to keep crowds from leaving early in the day to buy dinner and more souvenirs elsewhere, and spend their time and money in the park instead.

Ears to the Ground

…First reported here on February 16, Disney has now confirmed that “it's a small world” will be closing for a major refurbishment from June 7 of this year through March 18, 2005.

Character bowling balls at Pop Century
New controls added to the model train layout between the Germany and Italy pavilions add interactivity to the exhibit. It is not known whether they are temporary for the Flower & Garden Festival or if they are permanent enhancements. Photo by Brian Bennett.

…Michael Jackson, recently indicted on child-molestation charges, has been temporarily living in a 12-bedroom, 19-room mansion owned by developer David Siegel in a gated community in Isleworth that is also home to Shaquille O'Neal and Tiger Woods. Jackson was relaxing with his family and taking his children to the Orlando-area theme parks.

Correction

Last week, we reported that the Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room would be completely closed for refurbishment through the beginning of July. It appears that only the Pub side will be closed, while the Dining Room will remain open with a reduced drink menu. We apologize for the confusion.


Have any interesting news or rumors? Let us know.


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • it's a small world” – going down for rehab from June 7, 2004 to 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.
  • 20,000 League Under the Sea lagoon – walled off to “clear the land as well as add landscape for future use.” The work is expected to run through November.
  • 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.
  • El Pirata y el Perico – closed through May 14 for a rehab.
  • Splash Mountain – opens 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 through May 28.
  • The Enchanted Grove – closed for rehab through May 23.

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.
  • Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room – the pub portion is closed until just before July 4. The rehab is rumored to include a complete rebuild on the pub portion and the building of a divider between the pub and the restaurant.
  • 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.
  • Restaurant Akershus – open for the Princess Character Breakfast only through May 10, but not open for lunch and dinner during this time.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • 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 will close on May 1.
  • 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 – now confirmed to be returning this year, from November 24 through January 2.

Animal Kingdom

  • Dinosaur – closed for refurbishment 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 involves 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.
  • Disney's Old Key West Resort – The main pool to close from September through the end of the year for construction of a new water slide.
  • 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

  • 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.

Park Events

April 2004

  • Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival (link). April 16 – June 6.
  • Grad Nights (link). April 23, 24, 30, May 1.
  • Cinco de Mayo celebration at Pleasure Island. April 30, May 1, 5.

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

  • Tom Joyner Family Reunion Weekend (link). September 2 – 5.
  • 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.

February 2005

  • Atlanta Braves Training Camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex (link). Dates in February through April TBA.

Current Discounts & Promotions

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.

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).

Free commemorative coins for APs at Studios

Annual Passholders can receive a free commemorative coin, celebrating Disney-MGM Studios 15th Anniversary by showing their valid Passholder I.D. at the Sorcerer Hat Shop between May 1 and May 13, 2004. Created by celebrated Disney artist Don "Ducky" Williams, the coin features Director Mickey filming Minnie Mouse.

Gaylord Palms to pay for gas

Guests of the Gaylord Palms Resort will receive a $75 credit to cover the higher cost of gasoline for stays of at least three nights from June 15 through Sept. 6. The Orlando-area resort will provide the room credit to guests who make a reservation using the promotion code FREEGAS. It is not a requirement that guests drive to the resort in order to get the discount.

Disney's Summer Price Slice returns

Summer Price Slice is back with special-value greens fees on tee times after 10 a.m. daily from May 17 through Sept. 30 on Disney's five championship courses.

Golfers can test the premier Osprey Ridge course after 10 a.m. for $65 (compared to a normal seasonal greens fee of $119) or Eagle Pines for $50 (compared to a normal seasonal fee of $109). Post-10 a.m. rounds on the Magnolia, Palm or Lake Buena Vista courses are $45 (compared to a normal seasonal fee of $99). Cart is included.

Disney's Summer Price Slice also gives golfers the opportunity to play afternoon rounds late into the day. Golfers can take on Osprey Ridge after 3 p.m. for $35 ($30 after 5 p.m.). Eagle Pines, Magnolia, Palm and Lake Buena Vista start at $30 after 3 p.m. ($25 after 5 p.m.).

For tee times, guests may call 407/WDW-GOLF. For information on the Walt Disney World golf courses, visit: www.disneyworldgolf.com.

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
 
4/26
4/27
4/28
4/29
4/30
5/1
 

MK 9a-9p
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

MK 9a-9p
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

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

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

5/2
5/3
  • MK = Magic Kingdom
  • EF = Epcot, Future World
  • EW = Epcot, World Showcase
  • MGM = Disney-MGM Studios
  • AK = Animal Kingdom
  • BB = Blizzard Beach Water Park
  • TL = Typhoon Lagoon Water Park

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

MK 9a-9p
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 4/26

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Disney Gardening atHome: Birds, Beasts, and other Relatives 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: B.J. Thomas 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 4/27

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8:30p

Wishes Fireworks 9:30p

Disney Gardening atHome: Birds, Beasts, and other Relatives 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: B.J. Thomas 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 4/28

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Disney Gardening atHome: Birds, Beasts, and other Relatives 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: Gary Puckett 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 4/29

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8:30p

Wishes Fireworks 9:30p

Disney Gardening atHome: Birds, Beasts, and other Relatives 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: Gary Puckett 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Friday 4/30

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Great American Gardeners Series: Judi Betts 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: Gary Puckett 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 5/1

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Great American Gardeners Series: Judi Betts 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: Gary Puckett 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 5/2

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Great American Gardeners Series: Judi Betts 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: Orleans 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations! 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 5/3

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Disney Gardening atHome: Creative Wreaths for All Seasons 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert: Orleans 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 4/26

Elliot Dyson

The Big Idea

 

 

Tuesday 4/27

Elliot Dyson

The Big Idea

 

 

Wednesday 4/28

Elliot Dyson

The Big Idea

Harry Dash

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy with TBA (main room), $15 in advance, $17.50 day of show 8pm

Thursday 4/29

Bill Allred

The Big Idea

Harry Dash

Fountains of Wayne with Evan Dando (main room), $19.50 8pm

The Midnight Ramblers (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Friday 4/30

Bill Allred

Caliente

Harry Dash

Steve Winwood with Special Guest Randall Bramwood (main room), $29.50 8pm

Pat Ramsey (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Saturday 5/1

Bill Allred

Caliente

Harry Dash

Jackyl with Rob Rock's Rage of Creation (main room), $15 in advance, $17.50 day of show 8:30 pm

Pat Ramsey (Blues Kitchen), free 11pm

Sunday 5/2

Joy Wright

Caliente

 

The Original Drifters featuring Lee Logan (gospel brunch), $30 adult, $15 child (3-9) 10:30am, 1p

Orgy with Special Guest TBA (main room), $15 in advance, $17.50 day of show 7p

Monday 5/3

Joy Wright

Caliente

 

 



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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.