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News and Views

Celebrities for Star Wars Weekends extension announced

Disney has announced special celebrity guests for the first-ever extension of Star Wars Weekends. Amy Allen, who played Aayla Secura, returns this weekend, along with Matt Wood, who provided the voice of General Grievous in Episode III and portrayed Bib Fortuna in Episode I, as well as acting as Supervising Sound Editor on Episodes I-III. Next weekend will feature Jake Lloyd, who played young Anakin Skywalker, and Warren Fu, who was a Concept Artist on Episodes I-III.

This extension—from four to six weeks—is the first time that the event has been lengthened in the six times that it has been held.

Reservations center workers again reject unionization; will guest service suffer?

For the second time in three years, reservations agents and office and technical workers at Disney's Central Reservations Office (CRO) in Tampa and Orlando have rejected forming a union by a large margin. The vote failed 2,027 to 853, with 105 additional ballots being challenged. The election was a forced re-vote following the last attempt at forming a union in June 2002, where the results were thrown out by the National Labor Relations Board due to Disney's unfair attempts to influence the election. That vote also failed by a 70 percent margin.

Many of the reservations agents had been hoping that unionization under the auspices of the Universal Brotherhood of Carpenters would stop the “revenue incentive” system, whereby agents are given sales quotas (usually in the vicinity of $1,000 in sales per hour worked), and if they do not meet 85 percent quota or are in the bottom 20 percent of all agents three times in 12 consecutive months, they are fired. However, agents do receive incentives for regularly making their quota. This quota figure must be made regardless of how many calls the agents receive that are just requesting information or are looking for help with dining reservations, which are normally routed to other call centers via the interactive phone menu system. Time spent with no calls coming in to respond to and calls to modify or even cancel and rebook reservations do not count, either.

Long-time agents complain that the pressure to make quota is resulting in many agents giving callers the bum's rush as soon as they determine that there is no reservation money in the call. While they are evaluated on how much revenue they generate, their attendance and the quality of service that they give, agents complain that, if they're bringing in enough money, there are no repercussions for poor quality of service. Noted one reservations agent posting on the discussion forums at WDWMagic.com, “If we sound rude, they won't fire us if we are making money for the company. Guest compliments, perfect quaility monitoring, etc. no longer affects our job security.” Another noted, “Lately the goals are reaching the point where the hard-sell is inevitable.”

If you have complaints about the level of service that you receive from the Disney phone center, you should contact Walt Disney World Guest Communications (link). And while you're at it, let us know, too.

Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours switched around for summer

The Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours (EMH) will swap mornings and evenings in July. Currently Wednesday evening and Friday morning, the hours will switch to Wednesday morning and Friday evening beginning with an evening EMH on Friday, July 1. Monday evenings will also be added beginning July 11, giving the park one EMH morning and two EMH evenings per week. The schedule change will run through evening EMH hours on Friday, August 19, and the regular schedule resumes the evening of Wednesday, August 24.

Disney's On the Record opens at Kansas City Starlight Theater

Although this is not in Walt Disney World itself, landlocked readers near Kansas City may be interested in this Disney experience. From a place close to Walt Disney's heart comes a musical called "On The Record":

What: Disney's ON THE RECORD is the show-stopping new musical revue set in an enchanted recording studio where singers, dancers and musicians come to perform 64 songs made popular by Disney films from the past 75 years. ON THE RECORD is directed, choreographed and co-conceived by Tony Award nominee Robert Longbottom.

For tickets, log on to KCStarlight.com (link) or call the box office at (816) 363-STAR (7827).

When: Tuesday, June 14 – Sunday, June 19 8:30 p.m.

Where: Starlight Theatre in Swope Park 4600 Starlight Road Kansas City, Missouri

Ears to the ground

…It's going to be a little longer before the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station returns to service. The staffing shortages have caused the location to push back its reopening date until July 1. In the meantime, El Pirata Y el Perico Restaurante will be open for your dining pleasure from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday – Friday, until July 2.

…We are hearing rumors that The Timekeeper is being readied to open for the summer season, perhaps as early as this week.

…The seating and carpeting at the Carousel of Progress is reportedly being replaced on a rolling basis, with one row being done in each theater at any given time in order to allow the attraction to remain open. In addition, the show building's exterior is also supposed to get some attention during the rehab process.

…Disney is taking steps to alleviate the problems with receiving the luggage in the Disney's Magical Express program. Delivery time has been cut by as much as two hours across the board.

…Some additional Princess footage on the water screens has reportedly been added to Fantasmic prior to the appearance of the royal couples dancing on their rafts.


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

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Toon Park playground in Mickey's Toontown Fair – closed for refurbishment from June 6–30.
  • 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 of seats and carpeting occurring on a rolling basis; the attraction remains open.
  • Timekeeper – opens seasonally. The attraction is rumored to be opening this week for the summer season.
  • 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.
  • Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station – will be closed from May 22 – June 30.
  • Cinderella's Surprise Celebration – reportedly returns after the 18-month “Happiest Celebration on Earth” festivities end.

Epcot

  • Ice Station Cool – closed through late this year for refurbishment.
  • 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 through 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 – Work is now beginning on the complete refurbishment and upgrading of rooms and hallways in all buildings, which is expected to be completed by June 2006.
  • 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. After the South Garden Wing is complete, renovations will continue through the rest of the resort, which is expected to run through November 2007.
  • 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 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

  • Star Wars Weekends. Fridays – Sundays, May 20 – June 26. A celebration of all things Jedi and Sith (link).

July 2005

  • A Morning With Harmony Kingdom. Collectible box release at Disney's Animal Kingdom (link).
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers Training Camp. July 29 – August 17. The National Football League team heads down I-4 to get in shape for the season (link).

September 2005

  • Tom Joyner Family Reunion. Sept. 2–4. The annual gathering hopes not to be cancelled by hurricane again this year (link).
  • A Precious Weekend - Happiness Shared Together. Sept. 3–4. Release of first-ever Precious Moments and Disney Character integrated figurines (link).
  • One Little Spark... A Morning with a Purple Dragon. Sept. 8. Release of Figment sculpture and limited-edition pin (link).
  • Night of Joy. Sept. 9–10. Disney's annual Christian music festival (link).
  • Happiest Pin Celebration on Earth. Sept. 9–11. The big fall pin event, held at Epcot's World Showplace (link).
  • Walt Disney World Triathlon. Sept. 23–25. Competitors race around the resort on water, bike and foot (link).
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Sept. 30 – Nov. 13. The annual celebration of things gustatory, plus the Eat to the Beat concert series (link).
  • Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Sept. 30, Oct. 2, 6, 7, 11, 13, 16, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31. The big celebration of the boo-tiful season (link).

October 2005

  • Komen Central Florida Race for the Cure 5K. Oct. 8. The annual fund-raising run for breast cancer research (link).
  • Disney's Race for the Taste 10K. Oct. 9. The annual Disney 10K race gets a new name and a theme (link).
  • Funai Classic at Walt Disney World. Oct. 20–23. The 35th annual fall golf classic is played on the Palm and Magnolia courses (link).

November 2005

  • Festival of the Masters. Nov. 11–13. Artists display their works at Downtown Disney (link).
  • Super Soap Weekend. Nov. 12–13. Daytime stars descend upon the Disney-MGM Studios (link).
  • Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights. Nov. 23 – Jan. 8, 2006. Millions of lights bombard the eyes at the Disney-MGM Studios (link).
  • Holidays Around the World. Nov. 25 – Dec. 30. Epcot celebrates the season, including the popular Candlelight Processional (link).
  • Festival of the Seasons. Dates TBA. Downtown Disney celebrates the season (link).
  • Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. Nov. 27, 29, Dec. 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20. Snow on Main Street, free hot cocoa and cookies. What's not to like? (link).
  • MouseFest 2005. November 30 – December 3. Meet your favorite Disney Internet and guidebook authors (including some of us!) at a gathering of the Disney Internet community around the World (link).

December 2005

  • Pop Warner Super Bowl. Dec. 4–10. Football players and cheerleaders descend on the resort for the annual championships (link).
  • Pleasure Island New Year's Eve. Dec. 31. Pleasure Island celebrates the actual New Year (link).
  • New Year's Eve at Cirque du Soleil. Dec. 31. Cirque puts on special New Year's performances (link).
  • Atlantic Dance Hall New Year's Eve. Dec. 31. Ring in the New Year at the BoardWalk's own dance club (link).

January 2006

  • Disney's Health and Fitness Expo. Jan. 5–7. Check in for the weekend's races and check out the vendors (link).
  • FamilyFun Magazine Family Fun Run. Jan. 7. The shortest run of the weekend (link).
  • Walt Disney World Half-Marathon. Jan. 7. Registration now open (link). [Note: The full- and half-marathons are now held on separate days. Read our WDW Marathon Guide.]
  • Walt Disney World Marathon. Jan. 8. Registration now open (link).

May 2006

  • Epcot Teddy Bear and Doll Weekend. May 19–21. Collectible bears and dolls at Epcot (link).

Current Discounts & Promotions

Fall Passholder rates are out

Annual Passholder and Florida Resident discounts have been released for August 28 through October 4, with rates starting at $59 per night for value resorts and $89 per night for moderate resorts. The discount code to use is EXI. 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 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 ticket price structure 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 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 August 2005.

Sun
Mon
Tues
Wed
Thurs
Fri
Sat
 
6/13
6/14
6/15
6/16
6/17
6/18
 

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

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

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

MK 9a-10p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p

MGM 9a-10p
AK 9a-7p
BB 9a-6p
TL 9a-6p

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

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

6/19
6/20
  • 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-10p
EF 9a-7p
EW 11a-9p
MGM 9a-10p
AK 9a-6p
BB 9a-6p
TL 9a-6p

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


Entertainment Schedule

Hours and entertainment schedules are currently available through August 2005.

Theme Park Events

Magic Kingdom
Epcot World Showcase
Disney-MGM Studios
Animal Kingdom
Monday 6/13

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Tuesday 6/14

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p, 10:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Wednesday 6/15

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p, 10:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Thursday 6/16

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p, 10:30p

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Friday 6/17

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p, 10:30p

Star Wars Weekends celebrity guests: Amy Allen ("Aayla Secura") and another guest TBA

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Saturday 6/18

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p, 10:30p

Star Wars Weekends celebrity guests: Amy Allen ("Aayla Secura") and another guest TBA

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Sunday 6/19

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

Illuminations 9p

Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade 5:30p

Fantasmic 9p, 10:30p

Star Wars Weekends celebrity guests: Amy Allen ("Aayla Secura") and another guest TBA

Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade 4p

Monday 6/20

Share a Dream Come True Parade 3p

SpectroMagic Parade 9p, 11p

Wishes Fireworks 10p

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 6/13

Stormbringer

 

Skindred with Fivespeed (main room), $10 advance/$12 day of show; 8 p.m.

Tuesday 6/14

Stormbringer

 

 

Wednesday 6/15

Frankie & the West End Boys

 

 

Thursday 6/16

Fifth Year Crush

 

Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo with TBA (main room), $32.50 advance/$34.50 day of show; 8 p.m.

Freight Train Annie (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Friday 6/17

Fifth Year Crush

 

An Evening with John Fogerty (main room), $37.50 advance/$39.50 day of show; 9 p.m.

Billy Norris Project (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Saturday 6/18

Fifth Year Crush

 

Doc & Johnny XV Party (main room), $10; 8 p.m.

Joey Gilmore (Blues Kitchen), free; 11 p.m.

Sunday 6/19

Stormbringer

 

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

Monday 6/20

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.