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News and Views

Dining alert!

Mother's Day is 90 days away. That means that reservations for meals on Mother's Day are available as of this morning. Call soon, or the prime choices (like the Mother's Day Food Among the Flowers Brunch at Epcot's International Flower & Garden Festival) may all be gone.


Toronto residents identified Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort as the probable location of a child molestation in 2001 or 2002. Photo by Sue Holland.

Photos point police to Port Orleans as site of child molestation

Toronto police, looking to find the site where a child molestation took place, used digital technology to remove the child victim from incriminating photos, then posted them publicly to ask for help in locating where the pictures were taken. They were completely unprepared for the resulting response, which positively identified the site as Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter Resort.

CBC News reports that police “were inundated” with responses by people claiming to know the location (link). One man even sent e-mail to police with copies of his vacation photos of the resort. The photos were apparently taken before the recent refurbishment of the resort, based on the furnishings and décor.

Police hope that, by using the site of the incidents, they can find the perpetrator and the victim, a blonde girl. Police believe that the photos were taken between 2001 and 2002, and that the victim was 9 years old at the time. It is also believed that the victim was from the northeastern United States or southeastern Canada. Police are excited by the latest development, as it is the closest that they have been to solving the case in the three years that they have been working on it.

Soarin' previews announced

Disney has announced dates for Disney Vacation Club and Passholder previews of Soarin'. The event will be held during park hours April 15–17. Valid Passholder or DVC Member ID is required. It is likely that there will also be soft openings in that time frame, leading to the attraction's official opening on May 5.


Now that biometric identification is part of all tickets, instructional signs are posted above the turnstile entrances. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Are you a happy Passholder?

Walt Disney World Annual and Seasonal Passholders can enter the “Happiest Passholders on Earth” contest to win a chance to attend an invitation-only press event kicking off the Happiest Celebration on Earth with the official opening of the Light, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show on May 4. Check the Passholder Web site (link) for details.


The first phase of the gilding of Cinderella Castle is visible from the Main Street Railroad Station. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Pleasure Island pricing changes

Pleasure Island yesterday began testing a new single-club ticket option at specific clubs. This single-club ticket allows guests entry to one dance club for the entire evening. The price of the single club ticket is $9.95 during the test period. Note that this ticket does not include the Adventurer's Club or the Comedy Warehouse. Apparently, Disney is concerned about guests monopolizing the limited-capacity periodic live shows without paying full price.

Speaking of full price, the price of a multi-club ticket has gone back up to $20.95 from $16.95, also effective yesterday. Disney had temporarily lowered the price last summer when they first started the trial policy of making the outside areas of the island open-access. That trial continues.


Three of the castle's turret have already received their gilding, and gold bunting and tapestries have been installed on two of those turrets. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Tomorrowland construction news

Merchant of Venus is closing for refurbishment this morning, and reopens on March 19 after receiving a Stitch-themed overlay. Since the shop is the only exit for one chamber of Stitch's Great Escape, we're guessing that the attraction will run at half-capacity during the store's closure and that the Imagineers will take advantage of the time to make changes to the attraction. If that is indeed the case, then look for the other chamber to close after the new show is revealed, to reopen some time in April.

In addition, Auntie Gravity's Galactic Goodies has closed for a two week refurbishment, and reopens on February 20. No word on whether this is related to the work done last spring at the Tomorrowland snack shop.


Between two of the newly gilded towers, Peter Pan and Captain Hook await their cues for one of the final performances of Cinderella's Surprise Celebration. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Will they even carry The Black Hole?

The Once Upon a Toy shop at the Downtown Disney Marketplace reopens today with a massively enhanced DVD selection. Between the DVDs on display and those listed in a binder for guests to browse through, the store stocks every Disney DVD title currently available for sale, over 300 titles. Disney DVDs in the vault or on moratorium are not available.

Reeeeaally late night

Evening Extra Magic Hours sees their latest night yet since they were made permanent on January 2 when peak season hits for Presidents' Week. On Wednesday, February 23, the Magic Kingdom park closes to day guests at midnight, and the Extra Magic Hours keeps the park open for resort guests until 3:00 a.m. With the park opening at 9:00 the next morning, that gives the overnight crew less than six hours to get the park ship-shape. Let's hope that the late night guests don't make too much of a mess.


One of the redecorated turrets shows off a silver spiral that may hold show lighting elements. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Reader's Digest competition at Walt Disney World

The third annual Reader's Digest National Word Power Challenge is being held at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort April 17–19. The competition, which is based on the magazine's Word Power feature, is hosting champions from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the Department of Defense Schools.

The championship round on April 19, hosted by television personality Al Roker, is having the 10 finalists facing off for $50,000 in college scholarships, to be distributed among the top three finishers.

Roker's production company is producing a TV program of the championship for broadcast on NBC in early summer.


The crane used for the castle redecoration sits behind the castle in a retracted position to avoid interference with guest photos during park hours. Photo by Brian Bennett.

Disney and YMCA open second day care center

Walt Disney World and the Central Florida YMCA recently opened their second child care facility at the resort, which can handle up to 346 children at one time. Combined with the first facility, there is now a total capacity of 968 children from infants through school age.

Bunnies visit the Mouse

That was no hallucination. That was indeed Hugh Hefner and four of his Playmates visiting Walt Disney World last week. Hef and his girlfriends stayed at the Grand Floridian while visiting the parks on Thursday and Friday before heading to their pre-Super Bowl party in Jacksonville on Saturday.

The Walt Disney World trip was a belated birthday present for one of his girlfriends.

Ears to the ground

…Despite the fact that The Land pavilion is expected to reopen on April 1, The Garden Grill restaurant is not reopening until June 25, and the Ice Cream Social at the restaurant is not returning until July 7.

…The refurbishment of “it's a small world” is moving along well. The new queue and indoor facade (which looks a lot like the original California facade, including the gold-and-white paint job) look like they're nearly done.


The refurbishment of “it's a small world” is nearing completion after nine months of work. Photo by Brian Bennett.

…Pal Mickey version 2.0 debuts in May, wearing a black jacket and yellow bow tie. No word on what additional features are included yet. Annual Passholders purchasing a new Pal Mickey receive a free Passholder T-shirt for their Mickey.

…Phase II of the Saratoga Springs Resort is ahead of schedule, and DVC officials expect the phase's eight units to open one per month, beginning in March.

…El Pirata Y el Perico Restaurante is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the Presidents' Week peak seasion, February 11–26.

…We're hearing that Disney is planning a “Sports Trivia” promotional contest for July 31 and August 1, most likely in conjunction with another ESPN Weekend event. Prizes would range from “ESPN-The Weekend” sports watches and Nerf balls to two nights at Disney's All-Star Sports Resort. This information has not been confirmed, but seems fairly certain.


The designs on the construction walls in front of “it's a small world” hint at the Disneyland-like facade being built inside. Photo by Brian Bennett.


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 (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 Feb. 12.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed thru Feb. 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 Homecoming 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 Homecoming on Earth” celebration.


A construction wall and a Dumbo topiary greet those looking for the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride. Photo by Brian Bennett.

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 – debuts 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 Febr. 25.

Animal Kingdom

  • Lucky the Dinosaur – is scheduled to appear in May – July.
  • Expedition Everest – is scheduled to open in Spring 2006.


The herd of white horses aboard Cinderella's Golden Carousel await happy riders. Photo by Brian Bennett.

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 – Aug. 17; Tokelau May – Sept. 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.
  • 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. No work scheduled inside guest rooms.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa – Phase I's construction of four buildings complete; Phase II's eight units will open one each month, beginning in March 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 Feb. 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. 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 2005

  • Twirl Mania - The Twirler's Championships (link). Feb. 18–21.
  • Atlanta Braves Training Camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex (link). Feb. 17 – March 31.
  • Contest of Champions Cheer, Studio, and Dance/Drill Nationals (link). Feb. 25–27 and March 4–6.
  • ESPN The Weekend (link). Feb. 25–27.

March 2005

  • Doll & Teddy Bear Weekend (link). March 18–20.

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). Sept. 30 – Nov. 13.

October 2005

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

November 2005

  • Super Soap Weekend (link). Dates TBA.
  • Festival of the Masters (link). Nov. 12–13.
  • Holidays Around the World (link). Nov. 25 – Dec. 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). Dec. 31.
  • New Year's Eve at Cirque du Soleil (link). Dec. 31.
  • Atlantic Dance Hall New Year's Eve (link). Dec. 31.

January 2006

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

Current Discounts & Promotions

DVC golf discount, bonus

Walt Disney World golf courses are now offering Disney Vacation Club members free club and shoe rentals through March 31. DVC members can also purchase a DVC Annual Golf Membership for $50 plus tax. The golf membership grants special prices and perks at the WDW golf courses.

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
     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 Cost1-day2-day3-day4-day5-day6-day7-day10-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 ExpirationN/A$209 / $186$261 / $227$280 / $243$308 / $270$321 / $282$334 / $295$299 / $347
Advance Purchase DiscountN/AN/AN/AN/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
 
2/7
2/8
2/9
2/10
2/11
2/12
 

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

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

2/13
2/14
  • 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-10p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed

MK 9a-10p
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 2/7

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 2/8

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 2/9

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 4p

Thursday 2/10

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 2/11

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 2/12

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 2/13

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 2/14

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

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 2/7

Frankie & the West End Boys

Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin' Cajuns

 

Tuesday 2/8

Frankie & the West End Boys

Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin' Cajuns

 

Wednesday 2/9

Kabang

 

 

Thursday 2/10

80Z All Stars

 

Hurley Int. presents The Subcity Take Action Tour featuring Sugarcult, The Early November, Hawthorne Heights, Head Automatica and Maxeen (main room), $17; 6:45 p.m.

Nick Moss & The Flip Tops (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Friday 2/11

Leonard Brothers

80Z All Stars

Solo Entertainment Present Gilberto Santa Rosa Valentines Party 'El Caballero de la SALSA le canta al Amor' (main room), $42 advance/$50 day of show; 8 p.m.

The Lee Boys (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Saturday 2/12

Leonard Brothers

80Z All Stars

Hector Y Solo Entertainment Present Los Anormales en Vivo Featuring Hector 'El Bambino' and TBA (main room), $40 advance/$45 day of show; 9 p.m.

The Lee Boys (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Sunday 2/13

Frankie & the West End Boys

80Z All Stars

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

Monday 2/14

Frankie & the West End Boys

80Z All Stars

 



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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.