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News and Views

Castle transformation

Construction walls and tarps have returned to Cinderella Castle, as it has begun its “golden transformation” for the “Happiest Celebration on Earth” celebration. The work is scheduled to be completed by April 1. Golden decorations will cover the spires of the castle and add Disney characters to balconies and turrets. An “icon window” will be front and center, which will rotate “stained glass” images of all five Disney castles (including Hong Kong) throughout the day.

In addition, the Castle Forecourt Stage is being transformed for the new Cinderellabration show coming from Tokyo.

Construction cranes will be in the area behind the castle through the end of February, but are expected to be lowered during park hours. It appears that a lesson was learned from the castle cake debacle back in 1996.


Cinderella Castle is getting a makeover for the "Happiest Celebration on Earth" celebration. Image © Disney.

“What's Next?” – Not Disney World!

For the first time since 1987, when footballer Phil Simms first said, “I'm going to Disney World!” in a commercial, audiences will not hear a member of the Super Bowl champs utter the famous words. Disney has apparently decided that, with all the money that they're already pouring into the Happiest Celebration on Earth and Magic Your Way promotions, there is no room in the marketing budget for the Super Bowl commercial and parade this year.

How much the cost would be is unknown, but Disney is taking a low-profile approach, even to the point of removing all past press releases referencing the “What's Next?” campaign off of its Media Relations web site, including the three-month-old releases following the two commercials featuring the Boston Red Sox following their World Series victory.

However, the campaign is expected to return next year for Super Bowl XL, when Disney-owned ABC carries the big game.


Tinker Bell, Peter Pan and Wendy will circle the top spire of the castle. Image © Disney.

Irish pub now official

Disney has now announced details of the new Irish pub on Pleasure Island that we first reported on December 27 (link). The pub, which has not yet been named, opens this summer and features Irish food and entertainment. The decor showcases unique fixtures and furnishings designed and built in Ireland by Irish artisans. Irish music, storytelling and dance highlight the atmosphere, while Kevin Dundon, a well-known Irish chef presents Irish cuisine.

The pub will be owned and operated by an Irish-owned company, Great Irish Pubs Florida, Inc., which also created the Nine Fine Irishment establishment at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

The previously reported sponsorship by Guinness was not confirmed. The pub occupies the former Pleasure Island Jazz Club, which will be remodeled but not replaced. Interestingly, Pleasure Island club admission will not be required for entrance to the pub.


An icon window will display the images of the five Disney castles around the world. Shown is Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. Image © Disney.

Goodbye, Fantasy specials

It appears that the special versions of the Fantasy in the Sky fireworks used at the Magic Kingdom for the hard-ticketed Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party will follow the regular nightly version into retirement. New versions of Wishes have been prepared for use during the parties. The shows will be called Wicked Wishes and Winter Wishes.

Barry and Pearson to sign books at Contemporary on Friday

Writers Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson appear at two book-signing presentations at Walt Disney World this Friday, February 4 to sign copies of their children's best-seller Peter and the Starcatchers on the fourth floor of Disney's Contemporary Resort, 9 to 11 a.m. and then again from 5 to 8 p.m.


Statues of characters from Alice in Wonderland and The Lion King decorate the balconies and turrets on the left side of the castle. Image © Disney.

The public is invited and encouraged to dress in their best swashbuckling garb. There will be an exclusive collector's pin given away with every copy of the $17.99 book that is purchased and signed that day.

Future World "Magic" dilemma resolved

With the new evening Extra Magic Hours extending the opening of the park by 3 hours beyond the normal closing on some evenings, a slight problem was discovered at Epcot. Parts of Future World close at 7 p.m., before the rest of the park closes at 9 p.m. Yet those attractions are scheduled to be open for Extra Magic Hours.

Disney's solution is that, on days Epcot offers Extra Magic Hours at night, the attractions offered stay open past their normal closing times through the full operational day, for all guests, until 9 p.m.

If you are an off-property guest and wish to visit the Universe of Energy or Journey into Imagination after 7:00, you'll want to be there on a Thursday (unless they switch the days around during your trip). The Living Seas and Innoventions continue to close at 7 p.m., as they are not open for the Extra Magic Hours. When The Land pavilion reopens with the addition of the new Soarin' attraction, it will most likely join the list of pavilions open until 9 p.m.

Soarin' and stunt show inch closer to opening

Soarin' and the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show are both in the middle of casting their opening teams, meaning that both attractions are nearly done with their test-and-adjust phase and are beginning preparations for their soft openings.

Lights, Motors, Action! is seeing a lot of activity even before its reported March 13 soft-open. The Colgate Country Showdown taped in the amphitheater on January 28, a commercial shoot takes place on February 19, and American Chopper and the Discovery Network shoots there in early March.

Celebration Trolley begins service

Residents and visitors have a new way to get around Celebration, the town formerly owned by Disney. A trolley service, using a bus fitted out in the style of San Francisco's cable cars, started running this past weekend. Since the service is new, there is no set schedule yet as they are still timing the routes. For $1 per adult (50 cents per child 3-10 and senior over 65), riders can get a lift around Water Tower Plaza and all neighborhoods. Annual passes using biometric identification are also available. For more information, check out the trolley's Web site (link).

Ears to the ground

…We're getting word that the long-expected refurbishment of Stitch's Great Escape is now underway. We're hoping that the infusion of cash into the attraction brings it closer to the original vision for Alien Encounter's replacement.

…The new Walt Disney World Happiest Celebration on Earth vacation DVD/CD kit is now being mailed out, and it's showing that “it's a small world” will be reopening in May. We're still sticking with our predicted March 18 date, though that may now be a soft-opening date. In addition, while past vacation videos and DVDs have heavily used old footage of Epcot's Spaceship Earth without the enormous wand towering over it, this DVD's videography seems to go out of its way to avoid showing the wand, fueling speculation on Internet sites that the wand may be targeted for removal this year, rather than its originally expected 2007 departure.

…Tower of Terror is running at half capacity through this Friday, with the Echo and Foxtrot shafts alternating downtime for repairs.

…It is expected that information on special events for the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival will released today.

…Pinocchio's Village Haus is adding pizza to its menu.

…A rumor is circulating around various Disney-focused Web sites that the Haunted Mansion Fastpass machines may be removed and reinstalled at the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway.

…We're hearing that “Motion” at Pleasure Island is changing its policy to only allow guests age 18 and up, effective this coming Sunday, February 6.


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 thru March 18 for refurbishment (info).
  • 20,000 League Under the Sea lagoon – transforming into a Hundred Acre Wood-themed meet-and-greet. Reopening date unknown.
  • Astro Orbiter – closed thru March 12.
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress – refurbishment postponed until after completion of work on the Astro Orbiter.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – closed thru February 12.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed thru 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 Central Plaza (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. Expected to return after the 18-month “Happiest Celebration on Earth” celebration (commemorating the 50th anniversary of the original Disneyland Park in California) ends.
  • Cinderellabration – begins preview performances in March. Expected to run until the end of the 18-month “Happiest Celebration on Earth” celebration.

Epcot

  • Soarin' – officially scheduled to open in May, 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 thru March 31 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 opens 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. Rumor has it that the show will soft-open on March 13.
  • The Imperial Walker in front of Star Tours – closed for refurbishment thru March 11.
  • Mickey Avenue – undergoes work on an expansion thru March 11.
  • Stunt Show merchandise cart – undergoes some work thru 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 room refurbishment. Phase I's French Quarter reopened. Phase II is underway, and involves Riverside going through a phased refurbishment. The Magnolia Bend mansions appear to be completed. Alligator Bayou closed in sections.
  • Polynesian Resort – nearing completion of the refurbishment of longhouses: Rapa Nui and the suites in Tonga through April 1; Tahiti April 24 – August 17; Tokelau May – September. Work on the Great Ceremonial House also appears to be underway: stores moving to the main lobby area; Captain Cook's Snack Company expanding to fill the rest of the rear of the building.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – The Trinidad North quiet pool closed from January 4 – February 7.
  • BoardWalk Resort – Conversion of the previous Disney Vacation Club sales center into 19 additional villa-style accommodations through June, and the second floor villas located directly above the project area not available for booking during the construction. Major pipe replacement project underway in corridors outside guest rooms daily 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. through summer 2005. No work scheduled inside guest rooms.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa – Phase I's construction of four buildings complete; Phase II's the eight units due in 2005; Phase III's the six units due in 2007, involves razing the old Fairway Villas.
  • Yacht and Beach Club Resorts – Refurbishment of Stormalong Bay pool area thru early 2005; certain sections unavailable at various times. Those parts not immediately worked on are open for use. Main Flying Jib slide closed thru February 25 for a painting project: Yacht and Beach Club guests can use the Keister Coaster slide and Luna Park pool at the BoardWalk Resort.
  • Yacht Club Resort – Siding renovation project to continue through mid-2005.
  • Beach Club Resort – The Sandcastle Club child care center closed thru March 31 to refurbish Atlantic Wear & Wardrobe Emporium. Harbor Club at the BoardWalk Resort reopens for that three-month period. Sandcastle Club reopens April 1.
  • Coronado Springs Resort – Exhibit hall construction continues; scheduled to open spring 2005. Construction noises may be audible throughout the Casitas section of the resort during the daytime construction.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed for annual refurbishment thru March 12. It reopens with a new water coaster, the Crush 'N' Gusher.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – 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

  • 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

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

May

  • Star Wars Weekends (link). Fridays – Sundays, May 20 – June 12.

June

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

September

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

October

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

November

  • 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

  • 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 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. Advance purchase discounts are only available on tickets above the base ticket of at least 5 days.

Adult/Child Total Cost 1-day 2-day 3-day 4-day 5-day 6-day 7-day 10-day
Base Ticket $59.75 / $48 $119 / $96 $171 / $137 $185 / $148 $193 / $155 $196 / $157 $199 / $160 $209 / $167
W/ Park Hopper $94.75 / $83 $154 / $131 $206 / $172 $220 / $183 $228 / $190 $231 / $192 $234 / $195 $244 / $202
W/ Plus Pack $104.75 / $93 $164 / $141 $216 / $182 $230 / $193 $238 / $200 $241 / $202 $244 / $205 $254 / $212
  (plus 2) (plus 2) (plus 2) (plus 3) (plus 3) (plus 4) (plus 5) (plus 5)
Premium Ticket $139.75 / $128 $199 / $176 $251 / $217 $265 / $228 $273 / $235 $276 / $237 $279 / $240 $289 / $247
Premium, No Expiration N/A $209 / $186 $261 / $227 $280 / $243 $308 / $270 $321 / $282 $334 / $295 $299 / $347
Advance Purchase Discount N/A N/A N/A N/A $7/$6 $9/$7 $11/$9 $12/$9

 

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
 
1/31
2/1
2/2
2/3
2/4
2/5
 

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

2/6
2/7
  • 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-9p
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 1/31

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

Tuesday 2/1

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

Wednesday 2/2

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 2/3

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

Friday 2/4

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 4p

Saturday 2/5

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 4p

Sunday 2/6

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 2/7

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 4p

Downtown Disney Entertainment

(Separate admission required)

Rock & Roll Beach Club
West End Stage
House of Blues
Monday 1/31

Kabang

 

 

Tuesday 2/1

Kabang

 

 

Wednesday 2/2

Kabang

 

 

Thursday 2/3

Julliet

 

Snoop Dogg with Chingy and Slim Thug (main room), $52.50 advance/$55 day of show; 9p.m.

Friday 2/4

Frankie & the West End Boys

Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin' Cajuns

Ryan Cabrera with Aslyn and Kyle Riabko (main room), $19.50 advance/$21.50 day of show; 8 p.m.

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

Saturday 2/5

Frankie & the West End Boys

Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin' Cajuns

Foundation and HOB Present Bright Eyes (Performing songs from I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning) with Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter and Neva Dinova (main room), $17.50 advance/$20 day of show; 8 p.m.

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

Sunday 2/6

Frankie & the West End Boys

Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin' Cajuns

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

Monday 2/7

Frankie & the West End Boys

Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin' Cajuns

 



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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.