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News and Views

Walt Disney World cuts 25 management jobs

Last Monday, Walt Disney World laid off 25 management and professional employees as part of “internal organizational changes,” purportedly to streamline the decision–making process. The cuts, which are less than one-20th of one percent of all those employed by the resort, seem to follow in line with the reorganization of the corporate Strategic Planning Division just a week and a half earlier in the attempt to push the making of decisions down toward those more closely involved with the business.

In their announcement of the cuts, Disney said that they were providing professional outplacement assistance and severance pay to the laid–off employees. However, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting that those perks went only to full–timers, and not to part–time staff. The positions are reportedly in several different areas, but would not affect the experiences of resort guests.

The last time that the resort laid anyone off was last January, when the remaining 260 employees at the Florida animation studio were terminated.

However, Disney continues to hire hourly and professional positions, expecting to fill more than 2,000 full–time, part–time, and seasonal positions for the peak summer season.

Tech workers to be outsourced?

Disney is considering outsourcing some of its Information Technology (IT) jobs. The jobs, which cover everything from writing software, to maintaining networks, to repairing PCs, are being examined as possible candidates for outsourcing at a corporate level. This news comes just a month after the appointment of Tony Scott as the new corporate Chief Information Officer, although it is uncertain whether the two events are linked.

The IT staff at Disney could very well be hired by whichever contractor might take over the services, but that is not guaranteed. Also not guaranteed is whether those hired by the contractor would receive a similar pay–and–benefits package as they currenty enjoy with Disney.

Disney has contracted out many jobs over the years, from Aramark running the employee food service and Mears Transportation handling airport bus service to various firms doing construction and maintenance work on attractions. The key would be whether the outsourcing would save money without affecting the guest experience at the resort.

No decision on the potential outsourcing has been made yet. It is hoped that the review of IT operations should be complete and at least a preliminary decision reached by June.

Pal Mickey 2.0 due on April 20

The popular Pal Mickey interactive plush is getting an upgrade next week. Due to debut on April 20, the Happiest Celebration on Earth edition of Pal Mickey includes some new features. The 10 1/2-inch doll comes with a removable tuxedo jacket and bow tie, and interacts with something called a “Happiest Celebration Glow Medallion,” sold separately.

The new edition also comes with its own carrying lanyard strap and has a louder speaking voice. Mickey also holds what appears to be a Walt Disney World pin on his hand. (No word on whether the pin comes off or is permanently attached.)

The new version of Pal Mickey also carries a hefty price increase, at $65 plus tax, versus the current $50 plus tax. If you are one of the early purchasers of the doll, we'd love to hear what you think of itlink>.


The new version of Pal Mickey will set you back 30% more than the original. Image © Disney.

Radisson Resort Parkway lowers special rates!

Radisson Resort Parkway, a MousePlanet sponsor, has reduced its special discount rate available for MousePlanet readers. This exclusive rate of $89.95 per night is only available through the Internet. Rates are valid for April 2 to June 16.

Click here for more information, or here to make reservations now.

Mike Scopa one of the Happiest Passholders on Earth

MousePlanet's Mike Scopa has been selected as one of the 50 winners of the Happiest Passholder on Earth contest. Mike's winning essay about some father/son moments shared at Walt Disney World won him ringside seats at the special invitation–only media event kicking off the Happiest Celebration on Earth with the official opening of the Light, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show on May 4. Keep your eyes open for Mike's story about his winning entry.

Disney Magic to debut new musical during Trans-Canal cruise

Moving its base of operations to the West Coast and visiting new ports are not the only new things that are going on aboard the Disney Magic next month. During the May 25 Trans-Canal sailing from Florida to California, the Disney Cruise Line ship premieres Twice Charmed – An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story.

The new musical picks up where the original movie left off, at the wedding of Cinderella and her Prince. Her stepmother, Lady Tremaine, and her stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella get some help from Lady Tremaine's evil Fairy Godfather to wreak some havoc upon the happy couple.

Two of the eight songs in the show are from the original film, while six were created for the new musical. The show replaces Hercules – The Muse-ical aboard the Magic. The last performance of the Herc-themed show will be aboard the April 9 sailing. (The show continues aboard the Disney Wonder for the time being.)

For the intervening cruises, special performances fill the gap between the musicals. On the April 16 and April 23 sailings, the “cirque-like” Bumblesquats perform, while magician Mike Super does his stuff on the April 30 cruise, and the May 7 sailing features the juggling team of Wilde & Haines.

Disney Inline Marathon to feature new course

Disney Sports Attractions has announced a new course for this year's Walt Disney World Inline Marathon. The third annual skating competition features a course that makes racers much more comfortable, as they now only have to traverse 100 yards of the rough plank surface at the BoardWalk, rather than the extended stretch of previous years.

This year's course skates from the Wide World of Sports Complex up Osceola Parkway, World Drive and Buena Vista Drive to the annex entrance to the Disney-MGM Studios behind the Tower of Terror. From there, skaters race around the Disney-MGM Studios theme park, exiting down Hollywood Boulevard and out the front entrance.

Next, the course proceeds along the walkway to the bridge by the Swan and Dolphin resorts, then along the water in front of the Yacht & Beach Clubs, entering Epcot at the International Gateway. Skaters circle World Showcase and sprint through the middle of Future World, exiting Epcot at the front gates. From there, it's clear sailing along the resort's highways as they go along Epcot Center Drive, World Drive and Osceola Parkway to finish up back at the Wide World of Sports Complex.

Half-marathon skaters complete the 13.1-mile course once, while full marathoners skate the loop twice. The races start at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 1.

Give your My Little Pony a Disney theme park experience

The Once Upon a Toy store at the Downtown Disney Marketplace has now added a interactive station that allows guests to create their own My Little Pony play sets, including Disney princess costumes and accessories. It also allows kids to create their own My Little Pony storylines, allowing their ponies to ride Disney theme park attractions.

Beach Club shop work done

The Atlantic Wear and Wardrobe Emporium at the Beach Club Resort reopened on Friday, March 25, featuring new food items. Now on the menu are continental breakfast options, deli-style sandwiches, tossed salads, pastries, house-made gelato and soups of the day. Sandwiches and salads are available both freshly made and grab–and–go style. The location also features a drink refill station.

With the completion of work on the store, the Sandcastle Club has also reopened, taking childcare operations back from the Harbor Club, which now goes back into mothballs.

Ears to the ground

…Walt Disney World is beginning to roll out the new Disney's Magical Express service at the deluxe resorts. Guests can check their luggage and get their boarding passes if they are flying home on participating airlines between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. They will continue to expand the service until it is available at all Disney-owned resorts by May 5.

…The Emporium expansion, which replaced the former West Center Street, is undergoing a refurbishment of its facade. Work is expected to continue through the end of the month.

…The temporary stage that was erected in Tomorrowland for Magic Music Days is scheduled for removal the first week of June.

…The nut wagon in Fantasyland returns from refurbishment on April 20.

…Goofy's Candy Company at the Downtown Disney Marketplace opens late this month.

…Due to early closings for Grad Night celebrations, SpectroMagic and Wishes are not performed on April 22, 23, 29, 30.

…Dan Lund and Tony West's ode to the end of traditional animation at Disney, Dream on Silly Dreamer, showed yesterday at the Florida Film Festival in Maitland. No word yet on how the film was received.

…The construction area between African Outpost and Germany in Epcot's World Showcase will be the location for the WaterFULL World Garden Outpost, Children's Garden, Ladybug Release and other Flower and Garden Festival events.

…Golden mouse ears for the Happiest Celebration on Earth went on sale at Walt Disney World on Friday, April 1.

…The Fantasia pool at the All-Star Movies Resort closes for refurbishment April 11 to 15.


Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email us here.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • 20,000 League Under the Sea lagoon – most of the area has reopened, featuring corral–type planters and more walkway space. The remainder is transforming into a Hundred Acre Wood–themed children's play area featuring slides, climbing structures, and interactive pop-jet fountains. The area, to be called “Pooh's Playful Spot,” is expected to open around September..
  • Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress – refurbishment planned, date uncertain.
  • Timekeeper – opens seasonally. The attraction is currently closed.
  • 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.
  • Stitch's Great Escape – is running at half-capacity while the show is upgraded. Work on the first theater has been completed. We do not have an expected completion date on the second theater yet.
  • Cinderella's Surprise Celebration –reportedly returns after the 18-month “Happiest Celebration on Earth” festivities end.
  • Cinderellabration – preview performances are underway. Cast previews are scheduled for April 4–5. Official opening is May 5. Expected to run until the end of the 18-month “Happiest Celebration on Earth” festivities.

Epcot

  • Entire park – closes at 3 p.m. on May 5 for the “Happiest Celebration on Earth” press event.
  • Soarin' – officially scheduled to open on May 5, but soft openings are already underway. Passholder and DVC previews are April 15–17 during park hours.
  • The Behind the Seeds Walking Tour of the greenhouses at The Land – discontinued due to construction of the queue area for Soarin'. Officially resumes on May 5, though previews are reportedly being offered for free to those riding Soarin' previews.
  • The Land pavilion – closed thru May 1 for completion of the retheming to match the new Soarin' attraction. The Garden Grill Restaurant is not expected to return until at least July 7.
  • 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 is currently closed.
  • America Gardens Theater – undergoing refurbishment, but should reopen in time for the Flower & Garden Festival's Flower Power concert series.

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 on May 4. Preview performances for the public for test-and-adjust purposes have been returned to limited runs once or twice a week. Show times are subject to change, and there is no guarantee that the show will run on a given day. Fastpass tickets are available beginning at 9 a.m. each day that the show will run.

Animal Kingdom

  • Lucky the Dinosaur – is scheduled to appear in May – July, 2005. Official debut is May 6. There are reports that he is already making unannounced visits in the park in the Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama area.
  • Expedition Everest – is scheduled to open in Spring 2006.

Resorts

  • Polynesian Resort – nearing completion of the refurbishment of longhouses: suites in Tonga through May 12; 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.
  • Contemporary Resort – The South Garden wing will be closed for refurbishment from May 30 – October 31. Rumors indicate that the buildings may be completely gutted and rebuilt as Disney Vacation Club villas. No confirmation of the conversion yet.
  • 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 are opening one each month, through October 2005; Phase III's the six units due in 2007, involves razing the old Fairway Villas.
  • Yacht Club Resort – Siding renovation project to continue through mid-2005.
  • 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.
  • Disney's Vero Beach Resort (DVC Resort) – Roof repairs due to hurricane rehabilitation are ongoing and scheduled to run through late November.
  • Walt Disney World Swan Hotel – Repainting of the building's exterior is underway. Regular hotel operations are not affected.

Water Parks

  • No current refurbishments.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays. There will be no performances Jun 5–20.

Park Events

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 (link1 | link2). June 2–5.
  • National Kidney Foundation 5K (link) June 11.

August 2005

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp (link). Dates TBA.

September 2005

  • Tom Joyner Family Reunion (link). Sept. 2–4.
  • Nights of Joy (link). Sept. 9–10.
  • Walt Disney World Triathlon (link) Sept. 23–25.
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (link). Sept. 30 – Nov. 13.
  • Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (link). Sept. 30, Oct. 2, 4, 7, 11, 13, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31.

October 2005

  • Komen Central Florida Race for the Cure 5K (link) Oct. 8.
  • Disney's Race for the Taste 10K (link) Oct. 9.
  • Funai Classic at Walt Disney World (link). Oct. 20–23.

November 2005

  • Festival of the Masters (link). Nov. 11–13.
  • Super Soap Weekend (link). Nov. 12–13.
  • Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights (link). Nov. 23 - Jan. 8, 2006
  • Holidays Around the World (link). Nov. 25 – Dec. 30.
  • Festival of the Seasons (link). Dates TBA.
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (link). Nov. 27, 29, Dec. 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20.

December 2005

  • Pop Warner Super Bowl (link). Dec. 4–10.
  • 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

Summer passholder and Florida resident rates are out

Annual Passholder and Florida resident resort discounts valid most nights from April 17 through July 4 have been announced. Rates start at $74 for value resorts and $104 for moderates. See the Passholder 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
     Apr 2 – 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 June 2005.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
4/11
4/12
4/13
4/14
4/15
4/16
 

MK 9a-10p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p

MK 9a-9p
EF 9a-9p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB 9a-6p
TL 9a-6p

MK 9a-9p
EF 9a-9p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB 9a-6p
TL 9a-6p

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

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

MK 9a-10a
EF 9a-9p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB 9a-6p
TL 9a-6p

MK 9a-10p
EF 9a-9p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-6p
BB 9a-6p
TL 9a-6p

4/17
4/18
  • 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-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p

MK 9a-12a
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-8:30p
AK 9a-5p
BB 10a-6p
TL 10a-6p


Entertainment Schedule

Hours and entertainment schedules are currently available through June 2005.

Theme Park Events

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 4/11

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 4/12

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 4/13

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 4/14

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Friday 4/15

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Great American Gardeners Series: Paul James 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: Davy Jones 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 4/16

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Great American Gardeners Series: Paul James 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: Davy Jones 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 4/17

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Great American Gardeners Series: Paul James 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: Davy Jones 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 4/18

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Disney Gardening @ Home: "Bountiful Roses" 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: Davy Jones 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 8:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Downtown Disney Entertainment

(Separate admission required)

Rock & Roll Beach Club
West End Stage
House of Blues
Monday 4/11

Kabang

 

 

Tuesday 4/12

Leonard Brothers

 

 

Wednesday 4/13

Leonard Brothers

 

Fantasma/HOB present Keb' Mo' with TBA (main room), $20; 8:30 p.m.

Thursday 4/14

Leonard Brothers

 

Foundation and HOB Present Tiger Army with Special Guests The Unseen & Lost City Angels (main room), $9.99 advance/$12 day of show; 8 p.m.

Midnight Ramblers (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Friday 4/15

Leonard Brothers

 

King Diamond with Nile, Black Dahlia Murder and Behemoth (main room), $25 advance/$30 day of show; 8 p.m.

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

Saturday 4/16

Leonard Brothers

 

Fueled by Ramen Tour featuring Fall Out Boy with Silverstein, The Academy Is?, Gym Class Heroes and Paramore (main room), $15 advance/$17 day of show; 8 p.m.

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

Sunday 4/17

Stormbringer

 

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

Zakk Wylde's Black Label Society with MELDRUM (main room), $19.50 advance/$21 day of show; 7:30 p.m.

Monday 4/18

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.