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News and Views

Editor's Note

When we launched our weekly Disneyland and Walt Disney World park updates in December 2002, our intention was simply to find a way to keep our readers up to date on the news, changes, and rumors that didn't warrant a full column of their own. Two years later, these updates have become one of the most popular features on MousePlanet.

Earlier this month, several of us attended Mousefest at Walt Disney World and spent an afternoon chatting with some of our readers. We were gratified and astonished by the number of people who told us that reading our park updates was an indispensable and regular part of the start of their week.

We enter our third year of updates as we look forward to MousePlanet's fifth anniversary in July (coinciding with Disneyland's 50th anniversary). We'd like to to take the opportunity to recognize you, our readers, for making it all possible. Whether you send us news items, share your photographs, alert us to juicy rumors, or even correct an error, the updates would not be the same without your contributions.

Thank you for your continued support. 2005 will be one of the most facinating years in Disney history, and we look forward to sharing it with you.

I know that we promised you more photos this week, but since so many are off for the holiday and to make our publication process a little easier for us, we'll show them to you next week.

Pleasure Island shake-up

On December 20, at the end of the evening, the Pleasure Island Jazz Club and the adjacent D-Zertz both closed their doors for good. We're hearing rumors that they will be replaced by an Irish-style pub sponsored by Guinness. It is unknown at this time whether the existing building would be remodeled or if it will be completely replaced.

The former Suspended Animation shop now houses a massage station. There are machines that feature a high-pressure water spray that pulses up and down your back, with the water remaining inside a sealed liner, keeping you dry. These machines cost $15 per 10 minute massage. In addition, Brookstone massage chairs are available for $1 per 3 minutes. In all cases, guests will not be touched by staff members. This location is operated by an outside vendor.

A new area for ages 21 and up is being added to the second floor of Motion. The new seating is partially installed. This area will not be visible from the dance floor, but those in this area will be able to see the dance floor.

In addition, schedules were published internally that showed that the “no bands on the West End Stage” policy would continue at least through the end of January. It is rumored that the stage will actually be dismantled and replaced by a new walkway. We do not have confirmation on this yet.

Universal raises ticket prices; no word yet from SeaWorld

Last Monday, Universal Orlando raised the price of a one-day, one-park adult ticket to $59.75, matching Disney's upcoming price hike, which take effect on Sunday. Universal's $5 hike, which took effect immediately, was the park's third price increase this year.

New prices are $59.75 (adults) and $48 (children ages 3 to 9) for one day-one park, and $99.95 (adults) and $89.95 (children ages 3 to 9) for 2-days-2-parks.

Annual pass prices remain stable for the moment at $119.95 for a standard AP (with blackout dates of summer weekends and Christmas week) and $179.95 for a Preferred AP (no blackout dates, plus other benefits). A special year-end deal states that passes bought by January 10, 2005 will expire on April 13, 2006.

SeaWorld Orlando's prices were unchanged as of December 23, at $53.95 (adults) and $44.95 (children ages 3 to 9) for one-day ticket.

Extra Magic Hour schedule modified for peak weeks

The schedule for evening Extra Magic Hours has been modified for two weeks in January and February. The standard schedule, as we've previously published, is as follows, effective this coming Sunday:

  • Sunday: Disney-MGM Studios (evening)
  • Monday: Epcot (morning)
  • Tuesday: Disney-MGM Studios (morning), Animal Kingdom (evening)
  • Wednesday: Magic Kingdom (evening)
  • Thursday: Epcot (evening)
  • Friday: Magic Kingdom (morning)
  • Saturday: Disney's Animal Kingdom (morning)

For the week of January 16, the schedule is modified to:

  • Sunday: Animal Kingdom (evening)
  • Monday: Epcot (morning)
  • Tuesday: Disney-MGM Studios (morning), Magic Kingdom (evening)
  • Wednesday: Epcot (evening)
  • Thursday: Disney-MGM Studios (evening)
  • Friday: Magic Kingdom (morning)
  • Saturday: Disney's Animal Kingdom (morning)

For this week, all morning dates remain the same, but evening parks have all been rotated. For the week of February 13, the schedule is:

  • Sunday: Magic Kingdom (evening)
  • Monday: Epcot (morning)
  • Tuesday: Disney-MGM Studios (morning), Epcot (evening)
  • Wednesday: Disney MGM Studios (evening)
  • Thursday: Animal Kingdom (evening)
  • Friday: Magic Kingdom (morning)
  • Saturday: Disney's Animal Kingdom (morning)

Once again, the dates have been shifted. This appears to be a test at peak vacation times to see whether different date configurations have any effect on the crowd patterns. We'll have to see if this results in any permanent changes down the line.

Ears to the ground

…The Astro Orbiter was scheduled to close on January 25 for refurbishment in order to change out the bearings that allow the attraction to turn. The bearings did not hold up until January 25, and the attraction suddenly closed on December 20. The current announced reopening date remains the previously scheduled March 12 for now. Let's hope that they use the extra month to get the planets spinning again.

…We are now hearing that the Contemporary Resort's rooms may be in for an 18-month makeover process to convert their appearance to a “slick, hip 'boutique hotel' look.” Other rumors that we hear include the pool getting a makeover and that the South Garden Wing will be either torn down or gutted and then reborn as a DVC resort.

…Reader Jared reports: “Epcot now has Kidcot stations in the Future World Showcase. The only available station for now is Test Track and is done in the middle of the gift shop and clearly seen after walking through the car displays. Instead of a mask provided in the World Showcase, you are given a type of badge that you can wear around your neck. At Test Track they punched the badge and added cars and other shapes for kids to color. The people working the station said others will be added in the near future.”

…All tour guides are now equipped with short-range radios that transmit to wireless headsets worn by guests. This allows the guides to continue their spiel even thought the group may not be assembled around them. This also would seem to deter those not on the tour from listening in. One cast member relates that they have found that, because the group can hear them the whole time, they are prone to talking more with the headsets on than without, which more frequently leads to sore throats for the guides.

…On April 27-30, the 2005 BASS Federation Championship comes to Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee and Bay Lake at Walt Disney World. A two-day preliminary competition on Lake Tohopekaliga winnows the field from 55 to 15, who then compete in the final round on Disney's Bay Lake. Disney's ownership of the BASS Federation via ESPN seems to have reaped another synergistic benefit for Walt Disney World.


Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email us here.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • it's a small world” – closed through March 18, 2005 for refurbishment (info).
  • 20,000 League Under the Sea lagoon – walled off to “clear the land as well as add landscape for future use.” Reopening time unknown.
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress – expected to remain open for the holiday season, then will go down for major refurbishment.
  • Timekeeper – opens seasonally. Unconfirmed: Likely open for the last two weeks of December.
  • Jungle Cruise, the Enchanted Tiki Room – Under New Management, the Hall of Presidents and the Country Bear Jamboree – open at 10 a.m. every day.
  • The Hub area in front of the castle – undergoes more refurbishing in January 2005 in preparation for the Cinderellabration show coming later in the year.
  • Cinderella's Royal Table – closed for refurbishment January 17–27, 2005. Lunch and dinner resume on January 28, while character breakfasts return on January 29.
  • Astro Orbiter – closed December 20 – March 12, 2005.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – closed January 10 – February 12, 2005.
  • Cinderella's Surprise Celebration – last performance on February 26, 2005. Expected to return after the 18-month “Happiest Homecoming on Earth” celebration (commemorating the 50th anniversary of the original Disneyland Park in California) ends.
  • Cinderellabration – begins preview performances in March 2005. Expected to run until the end of the 18-month “Happiest Homecoming on Earth” celebration.

Epcot

  • Soarin' – is officially scheduled to open in May 2005, but may have an earlier soft opening.
  • The Behind the Seeds Walking Tour of the greenhouses at The Land – discontinued construction of the queue area for Soarin'. Expected to resume upon completion of the construction.
  • The Land pavilion – closes January 2 – March 31, 2005 for completion of the Soarin' attraction.
  • The Wonders of Life pavilion – open seasonally. The Pure and Simple eatery and the Well and Goods Limited shop have been removed, while the Body Wars, Cranium Command, and The Making of Me attractions now open when the pavilion is open. The pavilion is open through December 31, and it is rumored but not confirmed that it will be open next January – March during the closure of The Land pavilion.
  • El Rio del Tiempo not be operating January 10–12.

Disney-MGM Studios

  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, an American version of the popular Moteurs… Action! stunt show from the Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris – is officially scheduled to debut in May 2005.
  • The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights – returns this year on the Streets of America backlot, November 24 – January 2.
  • Fantasmic – will not be performed January 24-26.

Animal Kingdom

  • Lucky the Dinosaur – is scheduled to debut in Spring 2005.
  • Expedition Everest – is scheduled to open in Spring 2006.

Resorts

  • Port Orleans Resort – Ongoing two-year extensive rehab of its rooms. Phase I's French Quarter has reopened. Phase II is underway, and involves Riverside going through a phased rehab. The Magnolia Bend mansions appear to be completed. Alligator Bayou will close in sections.
  • Polynesian Resort – nearing completion of the refurbishment of longhouses. Scheduled: Rapa Nui and suites in Tonga January 3 – April 1, 2005, Tahiti April 24 – August 17, 2005. May – September Tokelau. Work on the Great Ceremonial House also appears to be underway. We hear that all of the stores will be moved to the main lobby area, and that Captain Cook's Snack Company will be expanded to fill the rest of the rear of the building.
  • Old Key West Resort – The main pool is closed through late December to construct a new themed water slide.
  • BoardWalk Resort – Conversion of the previous Disney Vacation Club sales center into 19 additional villa-style accommodations will continue through June. The second floor villas located directly above the project area will not be available for booking during the construction. In addition, a major pipe replacement project is underway in corridors outside guest rooms daily between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. through summer 2005. No work is scheduled inside guest rooms.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa – Construction continues on the rest of the resort; the four buildings of Phase I are complete, the eight units of Phase II are due in 2005, and the six units of Phase III are due in 2007. Phase III will involve the razing of the old Fairway Villas.
  • Yacht and Beach Club Resorts – An overall refurbishment of the Stormalong Bay pool area is running through early 2005. Certain sections of the pool will be unavailable at various times during the project. Those parts of the main pool not immediately being worked on will remain available for use. The main Shipwreck Slide will be closed only from January 3 to February 25, 2005, due to a painting project in that area. During the work on the slide, Yacht and Beach Club guests may use the Keister Coaster slide and Luna Park pool at the BoardWalk Resort.
  • Yacht Club Resort – A siding renovation project is expected to continue through mid-2005.
  • Beach Club Resort – The Sandcastle Club child care center will be closed from January 1 through March 31 to allow for the refurbishment of the Atlantic Wear & Wardrobe Emporium. The Harbor Club at the BoardWalk Resort will resume operations for that three-month period, with operations returning to the Sandcastle Club on April 1.
  • Coronado Springs Resort – Construction continues on the 86,000-square-foot exhibit hall that is scheduled to open in spring 2005. Construction noises may be audible throughout the Casitas section of the resort during the daytime construction.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – is closed for its annual refurbishment from December 12, 2004 – March 12, 2005. It reopens with a new water coaster, the Crush 'N' Gusher.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
  • The All Star Cafe at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex – now closed Monday–Wednesday. Open Thursday–Sunday, from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Park Events

Ongoing

  • Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights (link). November 24 – January 2.
  • Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney (link). November 26 – December 24.
  • Holidays Around the World (link). November 26 – December 30.

December 2004

  • Disney's Soccer Showcase (link). December 27 – January 2, 2005.
  • 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). Registration closed. January 9.

February 2005

  • Twirl Mania - The Twirler's Championships (link). February 18–21.
  • Atlanta Braves Training Camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex (link). Dates in February – March TBA.
  • Contest of Champions Cheer, Studio, and Dance/Drill Nationals (link). February 25–27 and March 4–6.

April 2005

  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (link). April 15 – June 5.
  • Walt Disney World Inline Marathon (link). April 30 – May 1.

May 2005

  • Star Wars Weekends (link). Weekends in May – June TBA.

June 2005

  • Gay and Lesbian Day at Walt Disney World (link1 | link2). June 2–5.

September 2005

  • Night of Joy (link). Dates TBA.
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (link). September 30 – November 13.

October 2005

  • Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (link). Dates TBA.
  • Funai Classic at Walt Disney World (link). October 20–23.

November 2005

  • Super Soap Weekend (link). Dates TBA.
  • Festival of the Masters (link). November 12–13.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Discounts for early 2005 are out

Resort discounts starting in January 2, 2005 have been announced. Annual Passholder and Florida Resident discounts are valid through February 16, while general and Canada Resident discounts are good through April 16. Room-only and Dream Maker packages are available. See the Walt Disney World web site (link) or MouseSavers (link) for more information.

Radisson Resort Parkway announces rates through 2005

Radisson Resort Parkway, a MousePlanet sponsor, has announced their rates through the end of 2005, and has reduced their rates for much of the rest of this year. Guests can receive a complimentary upgrade to deluxe pool view accommodations for the remainder of 2004 simply by typing in the code of “UPGR” in the promotional field of the reservation.

 
Courtyard
View
Deluxe Pool View
Bed & Breakfast Pkg - Courtyard View
2004
     Through Jan 1, '05
$109.95
$119.95
$127.95
2005
     Jan 2 – Feb 3
$79.95
$89.95
$97.95
     Feb 4–16
$109.95
$119.95
$127.95
     Feb 17–20
$119.95
$129.95
$137.95
     Feb 21 – March 17
$109.95
$119.95
$127.95
     March 18 – Apr 9
$119.95
$129.95
$137.95
     Apr 10 – 16
$109.95
$119.95
$127.95
     Apr 17 – June 29
$89.95
$99.95
$107.95
     June 30 – July 4
$99.95
$109.95
$117.95
     July 5 – Aug 13
$89.95
$99.95
$107.95
     Aug 14 – Sept 29
$79.95
$89.95
$97.95
     Sept 30 – Oct 22
$89.95
$99.95
$107.95
     Oct 23 – Dec 22
$79.95
$89.95
$97.95
     Dec 23 – 31
$109.95
$119.95
$127.95

Click here for more information, or here to make reservations now.

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 $12 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.

The entire price structure will be changing on January 2 to the new "Magic Your Way" passes. See the summary in the December 6 WDW Update (link) for more details. Advance purchase discounts will only be available on tickets above the base ticket for at least 5 days. Discounts for adults are $7 (5 days), $9 (6 days), $11 (7 days), and $12 (10 days). Child (ages 3-9) discounts are $6 (5 days), $7 (6 days) and $9 (7 or 10 days). We'll have a pricing grid for you next week.

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 February 2005.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
12/27
12/28
12/29
12/30
12/31
1/1
 

MK 8a-12a
EF 9a-9:30p
EW 11a-9:30p
MGM 8a-10p
AK 8a-8p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed

MK 8a-12a
EF 9a-9:30p
EW 11a-9:30p
MGM 8a-10p
AK 8a-8p
BB closed
TL 10a-5p

MK 8a-12a
EF 9a-9:30p
EW 11a-9:30p
MGM 8a-10p
AK 8a-8p
BB closed
TL 10a-5p

MK 8a-1a
EF 9a-9:30p
EW 11a-9:30p
MGM 8a-10p
AK 8a-8p
BB closed
TL 10a-5p

MK 8a-1a
EF 9a-1a
EW 11a-1a
MGM 8a-1a
AK 8a-8p
BB closed
TL 10a-5p

MK 8a-12a
EF 8a-7p
EW 10a-9p
MGM 8a-8:30p
AK 8a-8p
BB closed
TL 10a-5p

1/2
1/3
  • 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-9p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7p
AK 9a-6p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed

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


Entertainment Schedule

Hours and entertainment schedules are currently available through February 2005.

Theme Park Events

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 12/27

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade 1p, 4p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p, 10:15p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Candlelight Processional - narrator Gary Sinise 5p, 6:45p and 8:15p

Illuminations 9:30p

Hollywood Holly-Day Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p, 10p

Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade 3:45p

Tuesday 12/28

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade 1p, 4p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p, 10:15p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Candlelight Processional - narrator Gary Sinise 5p, 6:45p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9:30p

Hollywood Holly-Day Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p, 10p

Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade 3:45p

Wednesday 12/29

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade 1p, 4p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p, 10:15p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Candlelight Processional - narrator LeVar Burton 5p, 6:45p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9:30p

Hollywood Holly-Day Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p, 10p

Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade 3:45p

Thursday 12/30

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade 1p, 4p

SpectroMagic Parade 7p, 10:15p

Wishes Fireworks 8:30p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 12a

Candlelight Processional - narrator LeVar Burton 5p, 6:45p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9:30p

Hollywood Holly-Day Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p, 10p

Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade 3:45p

Friday 12/31

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade 1p, 4p

SpectroMagic Parade 7p, 10:15p

Wishes Fireworks 8:30p

Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks 12a

Illuminations 7:30p, 11:40p

Hollywood Holly-Day Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p, 10p

Lights! Camera! Happy New Year! Fireworks 12a

Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade 3:45p

Saturday 1/1

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade 1p, 4p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p, 10:15p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations 9:30p

Hollywood Holly-Day Parade 3p

Fantasmic 6:30p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade 3:45p

Sunday 1/2

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Monday 1/3

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations 9:30p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Downtown Disney Entertainment

(Separate admission required)

Jazz Club
West End Stage
Rock & Roll Beach Club
House of Blues
Monday 12/27

 

 

Leonard Brothers

 

Tuesday 12/28

 

 

Kabang

 

Wednesday 12/29

 

 

Kabang

Shinedown with Crossfade and Deepfield (main room), $23.50 advance/$25.50 day of show; 8pm

Thursday 12/30

 

 

Stormbringer

Edwin McCain with Aslyn (main room), $15 advance/$17.50 day of show; 8:30pm

Honeyboy (Blues Kitchen), free; 11pm

Friday 12/31

 

 

Stormbringer

Alter Bridge with Submersed and The Kick (main room), $42.50 advance/$47.50 day of show; 9pm

Saturday 1/1

 

 

Stormbringer

Sister Hazel with Drew Copeland (main room), $15 advance/$17.50 day of show; 8:30pm

Pocket Change (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Sunday 1/2

 

 

Stormbringer

TBA (gospel brunch), $30 adult, $15 child (3-9); 10:30am, 1pm

Monday 1/3

 

 

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.