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News and Views

Disney announces real–life Expedition Everest: Mission Himalayas

At a media event at Disney's Animal Kingdom on Friday, Disney announced Expedition Everest: Mission Himalayas, a real–life scientific expedition to the Himalayas to explore “the realm of the yeti.” The scientific and cultural expedition to search for new species and ancient legends, two years in the making, will be undertaken in conjunction with Conservation International and Discovery Networks.

The expedition, to take place from August through October of this year, will explore regions of China and the eastern Himalayas, which are remote areas known as biodiversity hot spots that are thought to be havens for undiscovered species of plants and animals. Findings and results of the expedition will be shared with the scientific and conservation community, and may also be incorporated into the attraction Expedition Everest.

One long commute

The Disney corporate jet got a major cross–country workout last week, as executives shuttled back and forth between the West Coast and East Coast resorts. After the Tuesday night preview at Disney's California Adventure, CEO–elect Bob Iger and Parks & Resorts President Jay Rasulo took the jet for a red–eye flight to Walt Disney World, where they participated in the media events at the Disney–MGM Studios and made an appearance in the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday. After the media interviews were done, they hopped back on the plane in order to make it back to the Disneyland Resort in time to take part in the official kick–off festivities at Disneyland Park on Thursday. Once that was over, Rasulo returned to Walt Disney World for the events at Disney's Animal Kingdom early Friday morning.

Party ticket pricing shows new twist

Ticket pricing for Mickey's Not–So–Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party has changed a bit this year. For starters, there will be no advance–purchase discount available for Halloween night at the Halloween party. Tickets for October 31 will cost $42.55 per adult and $35.10 per child regardless of when they are purchased. Those same prices will hold for all tickets bought the day of the event. Advance purchase prices for all other nights are $37.23 per adult and $29.77 per child. Annual and Seasonal Passholders receive a discounted price of $31.90 per adult and $25.51 per child (maximum 4 tickets per passholder), but only for September 30 and October 2, 6, 20, 23 and 25.

For Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party the cost is a bit more, with advance purchase prices for all dates costing $41.49 per adult and $31.90 per child. Advance purchase discounts are not available for Friday night parties. Friday night and day–of–event prices are $46.81 per adult, $37.23 per child. Annual and Seasonal Passholders receive a discounted price of $35.10 per adult and $27.64 per child (maximum 4 tickets per passholder), but only for November 29 and December 1, 4 and 13.

Tickets for both parties may be purchased by calling 407–W–DISNEY (407–934–7639).

Scopa's Notes from last week

Some random notes from Mike Scopa during his visit for the Happiest Celebration on Earth events:

  • Disney is expanding steam train tours from three days a week to either four or five days a week. The change takes place later this month, and one of the added tours is targeted at children.
  • The latest round of changes to Stitch's Great Escape have improved the show slightly, and the story line is marginally better.
  • The current rumor is that the MGM deal is dead, and that the name of the Disney–MGM Studios theme park will change later this summer to drop the “MGM” portion.
  • There have been a number of complaints that there is no wheelchair viewing area for Cinderellabration, making it difficult for those with limited mobility to see the show.
  • Mike notes that the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station has good food and the selection is diverse. You can choose the level of your spicing (from bland to spicy). The green iced tea, though, is overpriced.
  • The “Pooh's Playful Spot” Hundred–Acre Wood–themed playground on the site of the old 20,000 Leagues lagoon looks great. It's huge and very well done.
  • There are many complaints about the Disney's Magical Express system, with some guests vowing never to use it again due to how long it took to get everything taken care of (in one case, nearly 90 minutes from the airport to the guest's room). It looks like Disney still needs to work the kinks out of this system.
  • The newly refurbished Garden Grill Restaurant is going through some difficulties with its new a la carte menu, with lots of problems in food quality, time of service and so on. Table turnover is much slower now that the family–style service has been dropped. They still need to get the bugs out. One of Mike's sources pointed out that several courses came out at one time (salad, main course, and so on.). And, perhaps most oddly, there is a noticeable lack of vegetables on the menu.
  • Mike notes that the first showing of the day of Cinderellabration provides the best lighting for photos.


The resort sports new merchandise bags for the Happiest Celebration on Earth. Scanned image by Brian Bennett.

Canine gender–bender

You know those dogs from the Walt Disney World commercials? The border collie/terrier mix who romances a poodle, and eventually, in a later commercial, return to the park with their puppyies? Well, they were present for the media events at the resort last week, and it turns out that they're not exactly what they seemed to be. Apparently, the girl poodle is played by a boy dog named Romeo and the boy collie/terrier mix is played by a girl named Casper.

Radisson announced new discounted rate

The Radisson Resort Parkway, a MousePlanet sponsor, has announced newly discounted summer rates. From May 13 through August 13, rates start at $87 per night, with the exception of Memorial Day and July Fourth weekends, where rates start at $117. These rates tie in with the Happiest Celebration on Earth. Click here for more information, or here to make reservations now.

Seasonal employee job fair to be held this week

It's that time of year again. Walt Disney World will be holding a job fair May 12–15 to fill 2,000 seasonal positions. The number of positions is about the same as last year. Perhaps concerned with whether they will find qualified candidates, the resort has announced an incentive for current cast members to refer possible new employees. For each referred applicant hired, the resort will give the referring cast member a $50 gasoline gift card. Character and parade performer auditions will be held in conjunction with the job festival. Qualified candidates may receive a job offer the same day.

Holiday Inn offers 93–cent rate after computer error found

The 323–room Holiday Inn on Hotel Plaza Boulevard adjacent to Downtown Disney will finally reopen on August 1 after major repairs due to the three hurricanes that blasted through Central Florida last fall. But in entering their rates into the Holiday Inn reservations system, they misplaced a decimal point, resulting in 400 guests reserving 1,208 room nights for 93 cents to $1.13 per night instead of $93 to $113 per night before the error was discovered 17 hours later. The estimated savings for those rooms by those who made their reservations is more than $110,000.

Not one to miss a promotional opportunity, Holiday Inn General Manager Glenn Aycock created a special five–night grand reopening promotion valid from September 10 through December 24 this year. Those guests who book their rooms by September 30 will receive a rate of 93 cents for the fifth night of their stay when they make a five–night reservation. The rate is only available by calling the hotel directly at 407–828–8888.

Ears to the ground

…Walt Disney World celebration attendees were able to escape Christina Aguilera's rendition of “When You Wish Upon A Star” at Disneyland's kick–off festivities, and instead were treated to Andrea McArdle, Jennifer Holliday and Eden Espinoza singing a medley of “The Second Star to the Right,” “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and “Once Upon a Dream.” However, they did not get to hear Julie Andrews' speech or see the live conclusion to the “Coming Home” commercial. [For the full Disneyland version of the festivities, see the video archived on MousePlanet (link). Beware, the file is about 40 MB.]

…For the first time in almost four years, it appears that vacationers are starting to book more trips months in advance, rather than weeks. This may (or may not) lead to changes in the quantity of lodging discounts available. We'll have to wait and see.

…Walt Disney World will soon begin installing GPS satellite tracking systems on the resort's bus fleet. The Global Positioning System, which should be fully operational by next year, will be able to track which buses are underutilized and which routes are overloaded. This should allow Disney to better utilize the fleet in getting guests from place to place, while also allowing them to cut unneeded buses and drivers.


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

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Peter Pan's Flight – closed for refurbishment from May 22–26.
  • 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.

Epcot

  • 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.

Disney–MGM Studios

  • No current refurbishments.

Animal Kingdom

  • Lucky the Dinosaur – is scheduled to appear in May – July, 2005.
  • Expedition Everest – is scheduled to open in Spring 2006. The likely official opening date is April 22, which is both Earth Day and the park's birthday, but previews may start as early as February 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.
  • 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

  • Magnolia Golf Course – Closed for major renovation from May 9 – September 10.
  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays. There will be no performances Jun 5–20.

Park Events

Ongoing

  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (link) thru June 5.

May 2005

  • 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.

July 2005

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp (link). July 29 – August 17.

September 2005

  • Tom Joyner Family Reunion (link). Sept. 2–4.
  • Night 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, 6, 7, 11, 13, 16, 20, 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

Late–summer Passholder and Florida resident rates are out

Annual Passholder and Florida Resident discounts have been released for July 5 through August 27, with rates starting at $74 per night for value resorts and $99 per night for moderate resorts. Discount codes are EXE for passholders and EXF for Florida residents. 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
2005
     Through May 12
$79.95
$89.95
     May 13 – June 30
$87
$97
     July 1 – July 4
$117
$127
     July 5 – Aug 13
$87
$97
     Aug 14 – Sept 29
$83
$93
     Sept 30 – Oct 22
$107
$117
     Oct 23 – Nov 22
$87
$97
     Nov 23 – Nov 26
$107
$117
     Nov 27 – Dec 22
$87
$97
     Dec 23 – 27
$133
$143
     Dec 28 – 31
$179
$189

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

Disney's Summer Price Slice discount returns to golf courses

Summer Price Slice is back with reduced–price greens fees on tee times after 10 a.m. daily from May 2 through Sept. 29 on Disney's five 18–hole golf courses.

Golfers can play the premier Osprey Ridge course after 10 a.m. for $60 (compared to a normal seasonal greens fee of $119) or Eagle Pines for $50 (compared to a normal seasonal fee of $109). Post–10 a.m. rounds on the Magnolia, Palm or Lake Buena Vista courses are $45 (compared to a normal seasonal fee of $89–$94). Prices include golf cart rental.

Disney's Summer Price Slice also gives golfers the opportunity to play afternoon rounds late into the day. Golfers can take on Osprey Ridge after 3 p.m. for $35 ($30 after 5 p.m.). Eagle Pines, Magnolia and Palm start at $30 after 3 p.m. ($25 after 5 p.m.). Rounds at Lake Buena Vista start at $25 after 3 p.m. ($20 after 5 p.m.).

For tee times, call 407–WDW–GOLF (407–939–4653) or go to the Walt Disney World Golf web site (link).

Plan ahead and save a few bucks

The entire price structure has changed as of January 2, 2005, 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–day8–day9–day10–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 ExpirationN/A$209 / $186$261 / $227$280 / $243$308 / $270$321 / $282$334 / $295$382 / $342$392 / $395$399 / $347
Advance Purchase DiscountN/AN/AN/AN/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 July 2005.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
5/9
5/10
5/11
5/12
5/13
5/14
 

MK 9a–9p
EF 9a–7p
EW 11a–9p
MGM 9a–9p
AK 9a–5p
BB 10a–6p
TL 10a–6p

MK 9a–10p
EF 9a–7p
EW 11a–9p
MGM 9a–9p
AK 9a–5p
BB 9a–6p
TL 9a–6p

MK 9a–9p
EF 9a–7p
EW 11a–9p
MGM 9a–9p
AK 9a–5p
BB 9a–6p
TL 9a–6p

MK 9a–9p
EF 9a–7p
EW 11a–9p

MGM 9a–9p
AK 9a–5p
BB 9a–6p
TL 9a–6p

MK 9a–10p
EF 9a–7p
EW 11a–9p
MGM 9a–9p
AK 9a–5p
BB 9a–6p
TL 9a–6p

MK 9a–11p
EF 9a–7p
EW 11a–9p
MGM 9a–9p
AK 9a–6p
BB 9a–6p
TL 9a–6p

5/15
5/16
  • 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–9p
EF 9a–7p
EW 11a–9p
MGM 9a–9p
AK 9a–6p
BB 10a–6p
TL 10a–6p

MK 9a–10p
EF 9a–7p
EW 11a–9p
MGM 9a–9p
AK 9a–5p
BB 10a–6p
TL 10a–6p


Entertainment Schedule

Hours and entertainment schedules are currently available through July 2005.

Theme Park Events

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney–MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 5/9

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Disney Gardening @ Home: “Garden Spaces, Personal Places” 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: The Lovin' Spoonful 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 5/10

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Disney Gardening @ Home: “Garden Spaces, Personal Places” 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: The Lovin' Spoonful 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 5/11

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Disney Gardening @ Home: “Garden Spaces, Personal Places” 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: The Lovin' Spoonful 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 5/12

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Disney Gardening @ Home: “Garden Spaces, Personal Places” 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: The Nelsons 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Friday 5/13

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Great American Gardeners Series: Gary Alan 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: The Nelsons 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 5/14

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Great American Gardeners Series: Gary Alan 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: The Nelsons 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 5/15

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 9p

Great American Gardeners Series: Gary Alan 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: Gary Puckett 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 5/16

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Disney Gardening @ Home: “Tropical Treasures” 11a, 2p

Flower Power Concert Series: Gary Puckett 5:45p, 7p, 8:15p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Downtown Disney Entertainment

(Separate admission required)

Rock & Roll Beach Club
West End Stage
House of Blues
Monday 5/9

Fifth Year Crush

 

 

Tuesday 5/10

Fifth Year Crush

 

 

Wednesday 5/11

Kabang

 

 

Thursday 5/12

Kabang

 

Peter Murphy with TBA (main room), $18.50 advance/$21.50 day of show; 8:30 p.m.

The Karmic Tricycle (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Friday 5/13

Kabang

 

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

Saturday 5/14

Stormbringer

 

The Outlaws with TBA (main room), $25 advance/$27.50 day of show; 8:30 p.m.

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

Sunday 5/15

Stormbringer

 

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

An Evening With Paul Westerberg (main room), $19.50 advance/$22.50 day of show; 8 p.m.

Monday 5/16

Scott Jeffrey's Band

 

 



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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.