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News and Views

New spa to open at Swan & Dolphin

Steiner Leisure, which operates the spa facilities aboard the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder through its Spas at Sea division, has announced that their Mandara Spa division will create and operate a luxury spa facility at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel. Mandara will lease the facilities for 20 years, with Mandara holding the option of renewals.

The spa will have a "contemporary-Balinese" feel to it, and will include treatment rooms, couples suites, a relaxation tea garden and meditation garden, lakefront views and balconies, changing rooms, steam rooms, a nail salon and a hair spa." Mandara estimates that the $2.5 million facility will be open this summer.

Pleasure Island celebrates Mardi Gras and Valentine's Day in their own way

Pleasure Island will be celebrating Parti Gras, their annual take on Mardi Gras, on February 4, 5 and 8. Feathered banners, fabric swags, purple and green garland, Mardi Gras masks and more will decorate the Island. There will be a wide range of special entertainment, featuring Mardi Gras stilt walkers, jugglers, a unicycle artist, a bead dancer, a yo-yo professional, a beaded person (a person literally covered with beads), live bands and more. The outdoor elements of this celebration are free to the public, but admission to the Pleasure Island nightclubs still requires a ticket.

The Island also plans to become Sweetheart Island, celebrating the romance of Valentine's Day, on February 11, 12 and 14. Red and silver decorations will cover the Island, while streetmosphere entertainers portray "love prophets" who humorously predict guests' romantic futures, a "Matchmaker Matchbreaker" character who pushes her way into everyone's business, and a "Lovelorn Loser" who tries desperately to land the love of his life. As with Parti Gras, the outdoor elements of this celebration are free to the public, but admission to the Pleasure Island nightclubs still requires a ticket.

River Country finally officially gone

After years of speculation on the fate of the closed water park, Disney finally announced on Thursday that the park would never reopen. This puts to rest the periodic fantasizing of fans that the park would return. It is unknown why Disney chose now to announce the park's fate, but speculation includes the possibility that it might be a favorable time to remove the park from the company's balance sheet. In either case, River Country now officially joins its former partner, Discovery Island, in the annals of yesteryear.

The Land flips its lid

The refurbishment of The Land pavilion has claimed a (hopefully temporary) victim. The small glass dome over the entry portico has been removed, leaving a round hole above the entranceway. In addition, the ramped walkway leading to the pavilion, as well as the planter full of palm trees that was under the dome, has been removed. The Land logo sign, as well as the dedication plaque, are gone. Presumably, much of this will be returned by the end of the construction work, but that will remain to be seen.

The mosaic murals along the sides of the entranceway, the benches that are built into the walls, and the sliding glass doors at the entrance of the pavilion have not (yet) been touched.

We're also hearing rumors that the pavilion may see the return of a large mural painting covering the entire ceiling, similar to the blue-sky mural that was painted over during the 1996 refurbishment.

WDW named one of Top 10 Family Reunion Destinations by Family Travel Forum

Family Travel Forum has named Walt Disney World a winner of its seventh annual Top 10 Getaways awards (link). The awards honor "businesses in the hospitality, cruise and tour sectors that excel at satisfying the needs of children and adults participating in a family reunion."

The Top 10 Getaways For Family Reunions award winners were determined from more than 100 nominations made by travel experts, contributing editors and 80,000 site visitors. Walt Disney World was one of three locations honored in the Top Dream Reunion Experiences category. Other categories included Top All-Inclusive Resorts for Reunions, Top Mountain Resorts for Reunions and Top Recreational Resorts for Reunions. Family Travel Forum specifically noted Disney's Magical Gatherings program as a useful travel aid.

I-4 work moves onto the next phase

The next round of construction closures at the intersection of Interstate 4 and U.S. Route 192 will take effect on Sunday, February 6, when the exit from I-4 westbound to U.S. 192 eastbound will close. MousePlanet reader teri passes along advice for those who will be affected by the closure:

If you are traveling from the Downtown Disney area on I-4 toward 192 and Celebration/Kissimmee, you will take the Osceola Parkway east exit (one sign says Gaylord Center) and turn right on South International Drive to get to 192 near Old Town and Celebration. You can continue further down Osceola Parkway if you are going further down 192, but you may pay a toll depending on how far you go.

If you miss the Osceola Parkway exit for some reason, you can take the World Drive exit toward Celebration and turn back.

Ears to the ground

…Work is underway on a new monorail load/unload gate system. The first station to be refurbished is the Magic Kingdom resort line station. The work on that station is scheduled to be completed on March 11th, with the other 4 Resort Line stations following afterward. The monorail is expected to operate during the refurbishment with minimal guest impact.

…We have been informed that the Disney resorts have been told to no longer accept any room requests that are phoned or faxed in directly to the resort. To have a request met, it should be noted on your room reservation. If you made your reservation through the Disney Reservations Center, call them to have your request noted. If your reservation was made through a travel agent, the request should go through your agent.

…The West End Stage at Pleasure Island is not quite dead yet. Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin' Cajuns will be performing there on 2/4 during the Parti Gras celebration. The Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club will be closed that night.

…The gallery next to Reflections of China is closed off and boarded up to make way for the new exhibit advertising Hong Kong Disneyland.

…France is boarded up around the Boulangerie Patisserie for refurbishing.

…We're hearing that the California Grill is about to become much more strict about their business casual dress code.

…The Wolfgang Puck Caf at Downtown Disney will be holding a ?Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy? Wine Dinner on January 31 at 7 p.m. in their second-floor dining room. Puck and Executive Chef Eric Kelly have designed a special menu for the event, highlighting seasonal favorites from Puck's new book, ?Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy,? paired with specialty wines. Prior to the wine dinner, Wolfgang Puck will be signing books, posing for photos and signing autographs from 5:00?7:00pm in The Cafe.


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 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 – 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). Fridays – Sundays, May 20 – June 12.

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 valid through April 16, 2005 have been announced. 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.

 
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 entire price structure has changed as of 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).

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
 
1/24
1/25
1/26
1/27
1/28
1/29
 

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-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

1/30
1/31
  • 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 1/24

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

Tuesday 1/25

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 1/26

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 7p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 1/27

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 1/28

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 1/29

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 1/30

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 1/31

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

Downtown Disney Entertainment

(Separate admission required)

Rock & Roll Beach Club
West End Stage
House of Blues
Monday 1/24

Leonard Brothers

 

 

Tuesday 1/25

Leonard Brothers

 

 

Wednesday 1/26

Leonard Brothers

 

 

Thursday 1/27

Leonard Brothers

 

Big Al & the Heavyweights (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Friday 1/28

Leonard Brothers

 

Tommy McCoy & the Tuff-Tones (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Saturday 1/29

Leonard Brothers

 

VH1 presents Keane with The Zutons and The Redwalls (main room), $15 advance/$17.50 day of show; 8 p.m.

Beautiful Bobby Blackmon (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Sunday 1/30

Kabang

 

Apostle JL Cash and Praise (gospel brunch), $30 adult, $15 child (3-9); 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m.

Monday 1/31

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.