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News and Views

Disney's Magical Express to speed guests on their way to the parks

The latest phase of Destination Disney was announced last week, as Disney introduced “Disney's Magical Express.” This program, which starts running on May 5, allows guests to check their luggage in at their departure airport and not see it again until it arrives in their hotel room. Upon arrival at Orlando International Airport, guests would go directly to the Disney Airport Welcome Center, where they would check in and get free motor coach transportation to the resort. On return flights, guests check in their luggage and receive airline boarding passes before leaving their resort.

This service is only be available to guests of Disney-owned resorts, meaning those staying at the Swan, Dolphin, Shades of Green or the Hotel Plaza Boulevard hotels are out of luck. This will serve as the latest attempt to convince guests to stay at a Disney hotel and then never leave the property again.

For more information, see the full story at the Walt Disney World Web site (link).

Major roadwork at I-4 and US 192 begins

Work begins today on a major reconstruction of the intersection of Interstate 4 and U.S. Highway 192 in Kissimmee. The project, which is expected to take two years to complete, takes place in sections, with various detours during this process. The first detour, which starts on Sunday, require drivers heading west on U.S. 192 to drive past I-4, turn south on World Drive, then use the westbound entrance ramp directly onto I-4. For more information on the construction project, visit the project's Web site (link).

SeaWorld joins Disney, Universal in raising prices

SeaWorld Orlando, apparently feeling left out of the latest round of price increases by rival parks at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, has raised the price of their day tickets to $59.75, matching their competitors. However, they are offering a discount price of $53.75 to those who order the tickets from their web site in advance.

Disney guard arrested in murder-for-hire plot

Disney security guard Parl Dicks was arrested on Wednesday on charges that he tried to hire someone to kill his wife's ex-husband for $4,000 in order to end a child custody dispute. Dicks, who was arrested at Fort Wilderness by federal, state and county officers, in conjunction with Disney security, was charged with solicitation to commit murder. Disney has placed Dicks, an eight-year employee, on administrative leave.

Disney Cruise worker dies in cabin

A 24-year-old Disney Cruise Line assistant beverage server from Poland was found dead in her cabin last Monday while she was off-duty. There was no indication of foul play, but since she was found while the ship was docked in Nassau, the Bahamian government is investigating.

Brazilian girl dies after being stricken at park

An 11-year-old girl from Brazil died on Christmas Day after being stricken at the park the day before. The girl, who was reportedly “throwing up and passing out” while waiting in line at Space Mountain, was rushed to Celebration Hospital, where she died after midnight. According to the sheriff's report, the girl, who had pre-existing respiratory and pulmonary problems, had ridden the ride three times and was waiting in line for a fourth ride shortly before midnight on Christmas Eve when she started getting sick. Disney offered to assist the family, but had not heard back from them since that night.

Ears to the ground

…Please note that the attraction listing for the evening Extra Magic Hours that we listed last month (link) are for evenings only. The morning Extra Magic Hours continue to operate with the existing restricted number of attractions (for example, just Tomorrowland and Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom).

…For the second time in a month, the Orlando offices of Gay Days have been hit by vandals. On Wednesday night, the front window was struck by eggs, painballs and bullets. Orlando police are investigating it as a possible hate crime.

…On Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced that it would hold their 2005 training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex for the fourth year in a row. The team will also house its players, coaches and staff at the Celebration Hotel for the third consecutive year. While the official dates are yet available, camp generally runs from late July to mid-August. All practices is open to the public free of charge.


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 rehab (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.
  • Astro Orbiter – closed December 20 – March 12, 2005.
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress – scheduled rehab has now been postponed until after completion of work on the Astro Orbiter.
  • 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 rehab January 17–27, 2005. Lunch and dinner resume on January 28, while character breakfasts return on January 29.
  • 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 – closed 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 rumored but not confirmed to be open 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.
  • Fantasmic – will not be performed January 24-26.
  • The Imperial Walker in front of Star Tours – will receive a rehab from January 4–March 11.
  • Mickey Avenue – will undergo work on an expansion from January 4–March 11..
  • Stunt Show merchandise cart – will undergo some work from January 9$#150;February 25.

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 mid-January 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

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 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
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 is 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
 
1/3
1/4
1/5
1/6
1/7
1/8
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

1/9
1/10
  • 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-7p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed

MK 9a-8p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7p
AK 9a-5p
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 1/3

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Tuesday 1/4

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Wednesday 1/5

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Thursday 1/6

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 3:45p

Friday 1/7

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Saturday 1/8

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 3:45p

Sunday 1/9

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 3:45p

Monday 1/10

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 3:45p

Downtown Disney Entertainment

(Separate admission required)

Jazz Club
West End Stage
Rock & Roll Beach Club
House of Blues
Monday 1/3

 

 

Kabang

 

Tuesday 1/4

 

 

Kabang

 

Wednesday 1/5

 

 

Kabang

 

Thursday 1/6

 

 

Kabang

 

Friday 1/7

 

 

Kabang

Bajo Tierra TV Presents Daddy Yankee and TBA (main room), $39.50 advance/$45 day of show; 9pm

Hadden Sayers Band (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Saturday 1/8

 

 

Kabang

Jimmy Eat World with Reubens Accomplice and Elefant (main room), $16 advance/$18 day of show; 9pm

Freight Train Annie (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Sunday 1/9

 

 

Frankie & the West End Boys

Apostle JL Cash and Praise (gospel brunch), $30 adult, $15 child (3-9); 10:30am, 1pm

Monday 1/10

 

 

Frankie & the West End Boys

 



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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.