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News and Views

Miscellaneous rehab news

The current hub rehab at the Magic Kingdom includes: lowering the planters to allow better viewing of Wishes and the upcoming Cinderellabration show, removal of the curbs for better guest flow during the post-Wishes exodus and maintenance of the statues.


The Partners statue of Walt and Mickey is enclosed in a small shed to protect it while the rest of the Hub is under construction. Photo by Alex Stroup.

While Dumbo is closed for rehab (January 10 – February 12), there will be a Dumbo ride vehicle on display behind the Carousel for photo opportunities.

The walkway on the left side of the entrance ramp to The Land pavilion has been ripped up. The planter full of palm trees in the center of the ramp, under the little dome like structure, appears to be untouched. Also, the Garden Grill's rehab date has been extended to April 25th, well beyond the reopening of the pavillion itself.

The new sand castle pool slide at the Old Key West Resort has opened, and is located directly between the main pool and the children's wading pool.


Refurbishment continues on the Astro Orbiter, where there seems to be hope that the planets will again spin when work is completed. Photo by Alex Stroup.

We are hearing that Playhouse Disney ? Live On Stage! at the Disney-MGM Studios will be "closed for show change out" from April 4-11. We have no word yet what that term indicates.

Marathon and Half Marathon to split up next year

Disney has announced that next year, the Walt Disney World marathon and half marathon will be held on consecutive days, rather than simultaneously, as in the past. The half-marathon will take place on Saturday, January 7, while the marathon will be run the next day.

Both races have traditionally taken place on Sunday, with half-marathon runners finishing in the Magic Kingdom parking lot, while the marathoners crossed the finish line in the Epcot parking lot. The 2006 half-marathon will have a new course that starts at Epcot, goes to and through the Magic Kingdom, then finishes at the marathon finish line back at Epcot.

Thanks to the new split-date schedule, Disney expects to be able to register more runners for the half marathon, projecting a total field for both races in 2006 of 26,000, as opposed to 24,000 runners in 2005.


Work continues on San Francisco Street on the Streets of America backlot at the Disney-MGM Studios. Photo by Alex Stroup.

Georgia-Pacific signs multi-faceted sponsorship deal

As we reported back at the beginning of December (link), Disney has signed the Georgia-Pacific Corporation to a sponsorship deal that will include naming rights in several locations. Details were officially announced at a New York City press conference on Friday. When the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show opens in March at Disney- MGM Studios, it will be presented by Brawny paper towels. Mickey's Backyard BBQ pavilion and Chip n Dale's Campfire Sing-a-long at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground will both be sponsored by Dixie disposable tableware. In addition, Georgia-Pacific products, such as Quilted Northern bath tissue, Angel Soft toilet paper, Vanity Fair napkins, Dixie cups, plates and bowls, and other products will be utilized by guests and Cast Members at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Another Georgia-Pacific brand, still to be determined, will be a presenting sponsor of Disneyland Resort's Big Festival Area in California.


The scenery for the Ligbts, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show appears to be complete. Photo by Alex Stroup.


The stunt show set includes a huge video display screen. Photo by Alex Stroup.

AirTran signs deal to sell Disney packages

AirTran Airways has signed a joint marketing agreement with Walt Disney World to allow those booking flights on the discount carrier to book their Disney vacation at the same time. The Atlanta-based airline will offer the packages both on their web site and via their phone reservation system.


Drivers for the stunt show are rehearsing during park hours. The roar of engines and smoke are quite intense. Photo by Alex Stroup.


A car is split in half crosswise in the stunt show. The same effect divides a famous Disney Volkswagen during the show. Photo by Alex Stroup.

Earl of Sandwich to begin franchising

When Earl of Sandwich opened its doors last March, its owners stated that their plans were to franchise the concept nationwide. Now that plan is moving forward.

Robert Earl, who is best known as owner of the Planet Hollywood chain, has hired Lynette McKee, most recently Burger King's vice president of U.S. franchising, to lead the franchising effort. Earl plans to have 60 franchise locations open by the end of the year.

Plans are for franchises to fit one of three sizes, ranging from 900 to 3,000 square feet, as compared to the 10,000-square-foot location at Downtown Disney. It is not expected that any of the locations will be freestanding.


Motorcyclists rehearsing for the stunt show ride past the attraction's FastPass distribution area. Photo by Alex Stroup.

Beaver tail saga continues

After we noted in last week's Update that beaver tails were no longer being sold at Trapper Bob's at Epcot's Canada pavilion, we received some interesting mail. Reader Sean Rouse noted that he had contacted the supplier of the beaver tails pastries, and received a response that they were surprised to hear the news and were trying to find out if it was in fact true. We have not yet received an update from Sean as to the latest word from BeaverTails.

At the same time, we also heard from a former Canada pavilion cast member, who has started a campaign to bring the pastries back to Trapper Bob's. He states that the food & beverage management of the pavilion "switched to a reheated product in 2000 and sales started falling. After 9/11 they began shutting the booth during the day. Now they've stopped BeaverTail sales entirely do to 'poor sales'... hmmmm." He is asking people to phone, write or fax Disney, and to sign his online petition (link).

We'll keep you updated as we hear more about this pastry war.


Props from the move "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" are now located in the "boneyard" on the Backlot Tour at the Disney-MGM Studios. Photo by Alex Stroup.

Ears to the ground

…According to a story posted at D-Troops.com (link), real animators will no longer be leading the "Animation Academy" portion of the Art of Disney Animation attraction at the Disney-MGM Studios. As of February 1, the lesson on how to draw Disney characters will be led by a regular cast member, tracing a template. Don't bother asking for advice on how to get a career as an animator any more, folks. They won't have a clue.

…We're hearing that the signage around the I-4/U.S. 192 construction has caused a great deal of confusion among drivers, including for some locals. Authorities are working on improving the signage, but please be careful driving in that area, nonetheless.


Figment greets visitors at his new place at Epcot's Imagination pavilion. When questioned, Figment admitted that he did, indeed, still miss the Dreamfinder. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

…Last Thursday, the height requirement at Stitch's Great Escape! in the Magic Kingdom was increased from 35 to 38 inches to "achieve the best possible experience for our younger guests."

…Though we had mentioned it at the beginning of the project, we forgot to confirm for you that coffee makers are now available in all deluxe and moderate resort hotel rooms, in addition to the mini-refrigerators. Regular and decaffeinated coffee packages and condiments are now provided at no additional charge and will be replenished on a daily basis.


During the peak holiday season at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the Discovery River Boats circled the open area between Asia, Dinoland and Discovery Island, carrying entertainers. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

…The Trail's End Restaurant at Fort Wilderness will be accepting Priority Seatings starting January 19.

…Confirming that the new show will be open before then, the final daily showing of Lights! Motors! Action! on April 8 will be canceled due to a private event on the Streets of America.


The band and characters aboard the Discovery River Boats played tropical interpretations of holiday music. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

…Fantasmic will have two shows every Tuesday in April, at 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. (Tuesdays feature the morning Extra Magic Hour at the Disney-MGM Studios.)


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 – currently being transformed into a Hundred Acre Wood-themed meet-and-greet. Reopening date 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.
  • 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.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – will not be operating January 23 – February 8.
  • Timekeeper – opens seasonally.
  • 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 – undergoing more refurbishing in preparation for the Cinderellabration show coming later this year. Reopening date uncertain.
  • 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 will be open February 12–26.

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. Rumor has it that the show will soft-open on March 13.
  • 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 – February 25.

Animal Kingdom

  • Lucky the Dinosaur – is scheduled to appear in May and June, 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. Rapa Nui and the suites in Tonga are currently being worked on through April 1. Still scheduled: Tahiti April 24 – August 17, and Tokelau May – September. 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.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – The Trinidad North quiet pool is closed from January 4 – February 7.
  • 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 Flying Jib 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

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). February 17 – March 31.
  • Contest of Champions Cheer, Studio, and Dance/Drill Nationals (link). February 25–27 and March 4–6.
  • ESPN The Weekend (link). February 25–27.

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.
  • Holidays Around the World (link). November 25 – December 30.
  • Festival of the Seasons (link). Dates TBA.

December 2005

  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (link). Dates TBA.
  • Pleasure Island New Year's Eve (link). December 31.
  • New Year's Eve at Cirque du Soleil (link). December 31.
  • Atlantic Dance Hall New Year's Eve (link). December 31.

January 2006

  • Disney's Health and Fitness Expo (link). January 6 & 7.
  • FamilyFun Magazine Family Fun Run (link). January 7.
  • Walt Disney World Half-Marathon (link). Registration now open. January 7.
  • Walt Disney World Marathon (link). Registration now open. January 8.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Discounts for early 2005 are out

Resort discounts starting in January 2, 2005 have been announced. Discounts are good through April 16. Room-only and Magic Your Way 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 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 March 2005.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
1/17
1/18
1/19
1/20
1/21
1/22
 

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-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-8p
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

1/23
1/24
  • 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 March 2005.

Theme Park Events

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 1/17

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 4p

Tuesday 1/18

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 6:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 1/19

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 4p

Thursday 1/20

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 4p

Friday 1/21

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 4p

Saturday 1/122

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 4p

Sunday 1/23

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 4p

Monday 1/24

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 7p

Wishes Fireworks 8p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Downtown Disney Entertainment

(Separate admission required)

Rock & Roll Beach Club
West End Stage
House of Blues
Monday 1/17

Frankie & the West End Boys

 

 

Tuesday 1/18

Frankie & the West End Boys

 

 

Wednesday 1/19

Kabang

 

 

Thursday 1/20

Kabang

 

Lil Ed and the Blues Imperials (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Friday 1/21

Kabang

 

Javier Productions presents La India and TBA (main room), $37.50 advance/$40 day of show; 9pm

Damon Fowler Group (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Saturday 1/22

Kabang

 

6th Annual Hannah's Buddies Charity Classic Featuring John Bell & Friends: Kevin Kinney's Sun Tangled Angel Revival and Michael Nichol (main room), $35; 8:30 p.m.

Damon Fowler Group (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Sunday 1/23

Leonard Brothers

 

Mighty Golden Voices (gospel brunch), $30 adult, $15 child (3-9); 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m.

Robbie Draco Rosa with TBA (main room), $19.50 advance/$22.50 day of show; 8pm

Monday 1/24

Leonard Brothers

 

 



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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.