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News and Views

Soarin' holds cast member sneak preview; pavilion construction delays continue

On Friday, about 400-500 cast members participated in a sneak preview of Soarin'. Official cast member previews are not until April 7–10, so it is likely that this is still a shakedown volume test.

“Test pilots” entered directly into the Soarin' building from backstage without passing through the main pavilion, which still has much work remaining. In fact, we're hearing that the reason Disney has changed the pavilion's opening date on its Web site from “April 6” to just “April” is that the pavilion will not be ready to reopen until April 26. If that's true we have to wonder how they will orchestrate the Disney Vacation Club and Annual Passholder previews on April 15–17. However, that means that the construction delays that pushed the return of the Garden Grill Restaurant back to June 25 (as we reported on February 7) are now pushing the entire pavilion.

Of the work that is already completed, the five redecorated balloons are back hanging from the pavilion's ceiling. They are now themed as a central “Earth” balloon surrounded by four “season” balloons.


A van sits crashed into a tree near the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney. Photo by Brian Bennett

Land food court news

We're getting some information about the remodeled Sunshine Seasons food court. The new food court will feature scramble service, in which guests will order and receive their food from five separate food stations and then bring their food to a central area to pay for their food. This will allow those families that want different food but cannot or do not want to separate to stay together and pay at one time.

Guests can see their food being prepared in onstage kitchens at the five season-themed food stations. For spring, the Soup and Salad Shop provides, obviously, soups and salads, which features herbs and vegetables from The Land greenhouse. To represent summer, the Asian Wok Shop serves noodle bowls and stir fry, and features a Mongolian barbecue and wok station. Fall is celebrated at the Wood-Fired Grill Shop, which features such dishes as ancho-rubbed beef with chimichurri sauce, Moroccan rotisserie chicken and grilled Atlantic salmon. For winter, the Sandwich Shop serves sandwiches, including a grilled veggie Cuban sandwich (which seems counterintuitive, as we thought that Cuban sandwiches by definition featured lots of meat), a black forest ham and salami grinder, and a turkey muffaletta. Representing all seasons, a bakery serves bagels, croissants, muffins, danish and desserts, as well as coffee.

All food stations feature video menu boards to allow guests to better decide what sort of food they would like before they get to the ordering station. Vegetarian and children's selections will be available at all stations, as well as “grab–n'–go” items.

In all, it sounds like the food court at The Land will be quite enjoyable for many, though it's also probable that many will miss the old, simple food selections.


A close-up of the sign near the crashed van advertises the Stitch's Great Escape attraction. Photo by Brian Bennett

Magic mirror on the castle…

The “stained glass window” decoration themed as the magic mirror from Snow White has been installed on the castle. The “mirror” is larger than it appeared in the concept art. Also, it appears that the images of all five theme park castles will be created and rotated through the use of changing slats (in a similar manner to roadside billboards) instead of a projection screen as originally rumored. In addition, all of the gilded character sculptures now appear to be up.

Beware the new hazards of multiple-booking

We are hearing that the Disney Reservations Center (DRC) is cracking down on people who try to book multiple priority seating requests for different restaurants for the same meal on the same day. It has long been against Disney policy to allow guests to hold multiple reservations for the same time period. Under a new quality control campaign, agents are being trained in checking out guest records when they suspect unfair booking practices. If they find overbookings, the DRC cancels priority seatings and contact the guest to inform them. This may not happen to everyone with multiple reservations, as agents does not do the research unless they suspect overbooking abuse, but it is an additional factor to beware of if this has been your practice in the past.


It appears that something has crashed through the side of the van. Photo by Brian Bennett

Planetary disturbances

The Astro Orbiter is running again in Tomorrowland, but some of the planets are still missing. The remaining spheres are backstage at Central Shops, where their refurbishment continues over the next couple of months. When all of the planets are finally reinstalled, they are all expected to rotate.

Epcot DVD released

The third in the series of park tour DVDs has been released. The Epcot disc is hosted by “Professor Sy N. Tific,” who leads viewers through Future World and World Showcase. Bonus footage includes excerpts from Walt Disney's original EPCOT concept film and information about Audio-Animatronics figures, which—ironically—are a disappearing species at today's Epcot.


A sign inside the cordoned-off area indicates that there is “NOTHING TO SEE HERE.” Photo by Brian Bennett

Hopping down the Main Street bunny trail

It's that time of year again. Mr. & Mrs. Easter Bunny appears at the Magic Kingdom between March 20 and April 2, participating in meet-and-greet sessions in Town Square, and showing up in special entertainment events on Main Street, U.S.A.

On Easter Sunday (March 27), the furry twosome serves as grand marshals of the Share a Dream Come True parade (which runs twice that day, at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m.). The Azalea Trail Maids, dressed in colorful antebellum dresses, are also doing a meet-and-greet that day from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m., as well as appearing in both parades.


And, for those who haven't figured it out yet, the “Galactic Federation Line” crime scene tape should tip it off that this is an elaborate advertisement for the still-trying-to-meet-expectations Stitch's Great Escape attraction. Photo by Brian Bennett

Ears to the ground

…We are starting to see some rumors floating out that, if all factors work out favorably, there is a moderate chance that Expedition Everest could see soft opening dress rehearsals as early as November. But remember, these are just “if the good Lord's willin' and the creek don't rise” rumors and should not be the basis of any vacation plans.

…Next Sunday's Extra Magic Hours have been switched from evening hours at the Studios to morning hours at the Magic Kingdom. The Studios will have evening Extra Magic Hours on Thursday, March 17, instead of the Magic Kingdom's morning hours that day.


Workers are doing some work below the roof near a construction wall at Downtown Disney Marketplace. Photo by Brian Bennett

…Typhoon Lagoon returns from refurbishment on Sunday with the new Crush 'n' Gusher water coaster.

…Epcot closes to guests at 3 p.m. on Thursday, May 5 to allow for a huge “Happiest Celebration on Earth” press event. Due to the early closing, World Showcase opens at 9 a.m. that day.

…The price of the buffet character lunch at the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom has increased to $19.99 per adult (from $16.99). When the Garden Grill Restaurant at The Land pavilion at Epcot reopens on June 25, the price is increasing there, as well. These changes are for lunch only. Dinner prices remain unchanged.


What could be behind this construction wall? Photo by Brian Bennett

…The Hess station next to the Car Care Center at the Magic Kingdom is now open 24 hours a day seven days a week.

…The Disney Reservations Center has had eight straight weeks of record high room bookings. Looks like the parks will be crowded this summer.

…The annual Mother's Day brunch held during the Flower & Garden Festival will be at the World ShowPlace (in between the United Kingdom and Canada pavilions in World Showcase). We hear that there is still some availability on Saturday, but on Sunday it's pretty tight until afternoon.

…The savannas of Kilamanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom will soon be the home of five new cheetahs.


Why it's the new, improved, soon-to-open Goofy's Candy Company! 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 19 for refurbishment (info).
  • 20,000 League Under the Sea lagoon – most of the area has reopened, featuring "corral" type planters and more walkway space. The remainder is still reported to be transforming into a Hundred Acre Wood-themed meet-and-greet, with an uncertain opening date..
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress – refurbishment planned, date uncertain.
  • 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. About half of the hub has reopened, while the rest will remain behind construction walls into March.
  • Stitch's Great Escape – is running at half-capacity while the show is upgraded. No expected completion date yet.
  • Cinderella's Surprise Celebration – last performance was Saturday, February 26. Reported to be returning after the 18-month “Happiest Celebration on Earth” festivities end.
  • Cinderellabration – reportedly begins preview performances on March 17. Expected to run until the end of the 18-month “Happiest Celebration on Earth” festivities.

Epcot

  • Soarin' – officially scheduled to open in May, but may have an earlier soft opening. Cast previews are in early April, and passholder and DVC previews are April 15–17 during park hours.
  • The Behind the Seeds Walking Tour of the greenhouses at The Land—discontinued construction of the queue area for Soarin'. Will resume upon completion of the construction.
  • The Land pavilion – closed thru April 5 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.

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. Cast previews will be held on March 12 and 13, and the show soft-opens to the public on March 14.
  • The Imperial Walker in front of Star Tours – closed for refurbishment thru March 11.
  • Mickey Avenue – undergoes work on an expansion thru March 11.
  • Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage! – closed April 4–10 for show change-out. It is rumored that a JoJo's Circus segment will replace the Book of Pooh segment.

Animal Kingdom

  • Lucky the Dinosaur – is scheduled to appear in May – July, 2005.
  • Expedition Everest – is scheduled to open in Spring 2006.

Resorts

  • 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.
  • 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 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. Flying Jib slide work reportedly now complete.
  • 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 on Sunday 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

Ongoing

  • Atlanta Braves Training Camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex (link). Thru March 31.

March 2005

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

April 2005

  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (link). April 15 – June 5.
  • Disney Grad Nights (link). April 22, 23, 29, 30.
  • Pin Route 498 pin event (link). April 30.
  • Walt Disney World Inline Marathon Fitness Expo (link). April 30 – May 1.
  • All Star Kids Inline Classic (link). April 30.

May 2005

  • Walt Disney World Inline Marathon & Half-Marathon (link). May 1.
  • Danskin Women's Triathlon (link) May 15.
  • Star Wars Weekends (link). Fridays – Sundays, May 20 – June 12.
  • Florida Half Ironman at Walt Disney World (link) May 22.

June 2005

  • Gay and Lesbian Day at Walt Disney World (unofficial event; link1 | link2). June 2–5.
  • National Kidney Foundation 5K (link) June 12.

September 2005

  • Night of Joy (link). Dates TBA.
  • Disney's International Distance Triathlon (link) Sept. 23–25.
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (link). Sept. 30 – Nov. 13.

October 2005

  • Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (link). Dates TBA.
  • Disney's 10K Classic (link) October 9.
  • Funai Classic at Walt Disney World (link). October 20–23.

November 2005

  • Super Soap Weekend (link). Dates TBA.
  • Festival of the Masters (link). Nov. 11–13.
  • 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. [Note: The full- and half-marathons are now held on separate days. Read our WDW Marathon Guide.]
  • Walt Disney World Marathon (link). Registration now open. Jan. 8.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Southwest Airlines announces discount packages for Walt Disney World, Disneyland

Southwest Airlines is offering vacation packages to the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts. The packages are valid for trips from through June 2, 2005, and must be booked by March 17. For complete details, go to the Southwest Vacations site (link).

DVC golf discount, bonus

Walt Disney World golf courses are now offering Disney Vacation Club members free club and shoe rentals through March 31, 2005. 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, 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
     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 8-day 9-day 10-day
Base Ticket $59.75 / $48 $119 / $96 $171 / $137 $185 / $148 $193 / $155 $196 / $157 $199 / $160 $202 / $162 $205 / $164 $209 / $167
W/ Park Hopper $94.75 / $83 $154 / $131 $206 / $172 $220 / $183 $228 / $190 $231 / $192 $234 / $195 $237 / $197 $240 / $199 $244 / $202
W/ Plus Pack $104.75 / $93 $164 / $141 $216 / $182 $230 / $193 $238 / $200 $241 / $202 $244 / $205 $247 / $207 $250 / $209 $254 / $212
  (plus 2) (plus 2) (plus 2) (plus 3) (plus 3) (plus 4) (plus 5) (plus 5) (plus 5) (plus 5)
Premium Ticket $139.75 / $128 $199 / $176 $251 / $217 $265 / $228 $273 / $235 $276 / $237 $279 / $240 $282 / $242 $285 / $245 $289 / $247
Premium, No Expiration N/A $209 / $186 $261 / $227 $280 / $243 $308 / $270 $321 / $282 $334 / $295 $382 / $342 $392 / $395 $399 / $347
Advance Purchase Discount N/A N/A N/A N/A $7/$6 $9/$7 $11/$9 $11/$9 $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 May 2005.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
3/7
3/8
3/9
3/10
3/11
3/12
 

MK 9a-10p
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-6p
TL closed

MK 9a-8p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p

MGM 9a-7p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
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-8:30p
AK 9a-6p
BB 10a-5p
TL closed

3/13
3/14
  • 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
  • Italics = Morning Extra Magic Hours
  • Bold = Evening Extra Magic Hours

MK 9a-11p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7:30p
AK 9a-6p
BB 10a-5p
TL 10a-5p

MK 9a-12a
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-7:30p
AK 9a-6p
BB 10a-5p
TL 10a-5p


Entertainment Schedule

Hours and entertainment schedules are currently available through May 2005.

Theme Park Events

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 3/7

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p

Wishes Fireworks 8p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 3/8

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 3/9

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 3/10

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 8p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Friday 3/11

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 8p, 10p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 3/12

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 3:30p

Fantasmic 7p, 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 3/13

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4:30p

Fantasmic 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 3/14

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 4:30p

Fantasmic 7:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Downtown Disney Entertainment

(Separate admission required)

Rock & Roll Beach Club
West End Stage
House of Blues
Monday 3/7

Frankie & the West End Boys

 

 

Tuesday 3/8

Fifth Year Crush

 

 

Wednesday 3/9

Fifth Year Crush

 

Soulfly with God Forbid and Death By Stereo (main room), $17.50 advance/$19.50 day of show; 8 p.m.

Thursday 3/10

Fifth Year Crush

 

 

Friday 3/11

Fifth Year Crush

 

Fuse/X Box Presents New Found Glory with Reggie & The Full Effect and Eisley (main room), $16.50 advance/$19 day of show; 7:30 p.m.

Saturday 3/12

Fifth Year Crush

 

An Evening with Medeski Martin & Wood (main room), $17.50 advance/$19.50 day of show; 8:30 p.m.

Sunday 3/13

Fifth Year Crush

 

Paula Stevens and Ambassadors of Praise (gospel brunch), $30 adult, $15 child (3-9); 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m.

Winterfresh Sno-Core Tour featuring Strata, Future Leaders of the World, Crossfade, Helmet and Chevelle (main room), $17.50 advance/$19.50 day of show; 6:15 p.m.

Monday 3/14

Stormbringer

 

 



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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.