Last Thursday morning around 10:20 a.m., a faulty sensor caused an emergency stop at Kali River Rapids in Disney's Animal Kingdom. While following standard procedures to evacuate the rafts on the lift portion of the ride, the portable platform used to allow guests to step from the raft onto a walkway shifted, injuring five guests and a cast member.
The ride was shut down and the six were taken to a hospital as a precaution, though all were later released. After completing a safety inspection, the attraction was re-opened at 4:15 p.m. that afternoon.
The Luke Mickey big fig was on sale this past weekend, while Minnie Leia will be available this coming weekend. Photo by Indy.
Stormtrooper Donald goes on sale the weekend of June 15-17, while Darth Goofy will be available June 22-24. Photo by Indy.
Star Wars Weekends returned to the Disney-MGM Studios this past weekend, bringing new queuing procedures for merchandise and celebrity autographs; a new, much smaller merchandise location; and a last-minute change to the celebrity lineup.
Those waiting for merchandise and Fastpasses for celebrity autographs now queue up outside the gates of the Disney-MGM Studios. This even applies to resort guests during Extra Magic Hours. When the park opens, the lines are led to the merchandise and Fastpass locations in an orderly fashion. Those who may have been already in the park and queuing up at those locations must wait until the lines from outside the park have gone before they can reach their goal.
This year's merchandise location is Jabba's Hut, located at the end of Mickey Avenue, has much less space than last year's location (Wicket's Warehouse) which was large enough to display a full-sized X-wing fighter. That space was lost when Disney began the conversion of the soundstages to the upcoming Toy Story Mania attraction. Jabba's Hut is such a small space that, instead of opening up the floor for people to browse, the queue line for all merchandise passes through an area with the standard open-stock merchandise to grab as well as displays of the limited-edition pieces before arriving at a counter where guests can buy the limited-edition items. Lines were reported at upwards of 90 minutes at mid-day.
The limited-edition Big Fig merchandise is being released one weekend at a time. Luke Mickey was released this past weekend, while the next three weekends will see Minnie Leia, Stormtrooper Donald and Darth Goofy, in that order. If for some reason the figures don't sell out during the event, the "wish list" will be processed. (To get on the wish list, call Disney Event Services at 407-827-7600 between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.)
Due to the filming schedule of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Warwick Davis could not attend this week's event. His appearance was switched with that of Bonnie Piesse (Young Beru) who had been slated for the event's final weekend.
A mounted, limited-edition coin set bears the official logo for this year's Star Wars Weekends. Photo by Indy.
Get your MousePlanet swag!
The MousePlanet.com store is now open for business (link)! You can get shirts, mugs, hats and even a Teddy Bear! Check it out and show your MousePlanet pride! Now you can show everybody in the parks what site you read!
The announcement that Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure park will soon be host to "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" has spurred much speculation as to how Disney will react to this new competition. While Walt Disney Imagineering is settling in after its recent management shakeup, it is a good bet that they will soon be cooking something up to keep people on-site at Walt Disney World rather than heading over to the new $230-$265 million creation up I-4. While many possibilities are floating around on the Internet, it's likely that no decision will be made until new Imagineering honchos Bruce Vaughn and Craig Russell have enough time to give a good look at everything that is currently floating around the Glendale offices. It's fairly certain, however, that there will be some sort of response, as Harry Potter presents a much more formidable challenge than all of the other attractions currently at Universal.
Shirts, mugs and other merchandise bears the official logo of this year's Star Wars Weekends. Photo by Indy.
The Service Trades Council Union is giving its earlier deal another go. The union (which is the umbrella bargaining agent for its six member unions) has scheduled a second vote on a proposed new contract, despite the fact that the contract was originally voted down 2,870-2,583 on May 18. The turnout for the original vote was less than half of those eligible to vote, so the union is hoping for a bigger response rate, as well as a larger percentage of those approving the deal.
Last week in a "Quick Takes" story, we noted that Disney had filed paperwork for "Downtown Disney West Side Quest Simulator Demolition Demo and canopy, column, ride cards and concrete pedestal. Replace with pavers," and wondered if this could be the end of CyberSpace Mountain at DisneyQuest. Apparently this editor's infrequent visits to the West Side are showing, as by Monday night no fewer than 17 helpful readers had written in to inform us that there is a display model of the CyberSpace Mountain simulator on a pedestal on the walkway between DisneyQuest and Cirque du Soleil, which is the likely subject of the demolition. Thanks to the readers for the information, and we apologize for any premature terror over the possible demise of DisneyQuest.
Many on the Internet would have preferred if this design was this year's official logo. Photo by Indy.
Want to help MousePlanet upgrade our park guides? We're looking to add menu information for all restaurants to our Walt Disney World Park Guide (link). Send photos or scans of menus (no fair copying from other web sites) to email@example.com (link). Please note that there is a 5MB limit on total attachments in a single email.
Fastpass hardware and software are getting upgrades property-wide. The first two parks to receive their upgrades will be Epcot and Disney's Animal Kingdom.
According to the Market Metrix Hospitality Index results for the first quarter of this year, based on 35,000 consumer interviews conducted from January through March 2007, Walt Disney World Resorts again received the highest ranking in the Upper Upscale Hotels category, and the Disney Vacation Club took the top spot in the Timeshare Accommodations category.
Bobblehead dolls were a late addition to this year's Star Wars Weekends merchandise. Photo by Indy.
The answer to last week's question: "What color carpet covers the stairs of the steps leading up to Cinderella's Royal Table?" which was contributed by MousePlanet reader Ryan, is:
Red or maroon.
Do you have a trivia question that you'd like to share? If we choose to use your question, we'll give you credit in the Update. Email us here.
Disney has released discounted room rates for passholders and Florida residents through most of the summer. Discounts are available for select Disney Vacation Club and deluxe resorts from June 3 through August 4, and for select moderate resorts between July 1 and August 4.
For passholders, the DVC rates start at $164 per night plus tax in a studio at the Old Key West or Saratoga Springs Resorts. Prices go up from there depending on the resort and accommodations. In addition to those two DVC resorts, discounts are also available at the Yacht Club, Beach Club and BoardWalk Resorts. Rates at the moderates start at $139 per night. For Florida residents, the DVC rates start at $169 per night and the moderates start at $145 per night. Minimum stay requirements apply for Friday and Saturday arrivals.
All rates can be booked up until the date of arrival. Passholders and Florida residents can book via their respective web sites, by calling their travel agent (Small World Vacations is MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel provider) or by calling 407-560-7277 for passholders or 407-560-7722 for Florida residents.
Passholder discount codes are FDL (DVC/Deluxe) and FDJ (Moderates). Florida resident discount codes are FDP (DVC/Deluxe) and FDN (Moderates).
Disney is offering a new free dining package for trips beginning August 26 through September 22. Minimum stay will be three nights and a minimum one-day theme park ticket per person is required to get the free dining package for the length of your stay. Just remember that this is during peak hurricane season, which is why Disney needs to offer this promotion to get people to visit the parks and stay on property. While the odds of a hurricane interrupting or cancelling your vacation are low, you may want to take advantage of the trip insurance offered by Disney, just in case. Packages must be booked by June 24.
We'd like to welcome the Hotel Royal Plaza as a new MousePlanet sponsor. As part of our new relationship, the Royal Plaza has created a special offer just for MousePlanet readers! From now through the end of the year, anyone booking their stay through the MousePlanet web site will receive discounted rates up to 20 percent off on all room types.
The completely-remodeled 394-room resort is located on Hotel Plaza Boulevard, just a few minutes' walk from Downtown Disney. Bus service to all Walt Disney World theme parks is included with your stay. Their Giraffe Caf restaurant, Giraffe Tavern sports bar, Marketessen deli-style caf and Sips Pool Bar are ready to serve you. And children 10 and under eat breakfast for free!
And so we'd like to thank the Hotel Royal Plaza for joining the MousePlanet family, and invite you to try their hospitality.
Disney's popular summer golf discount program, Disney's Price Slice, will return from May 14 through September 27. During that time, a round of golf at any of the Walt Disney World courses will be less expensive after 10 a.m. daily, due to the heat of the summer season. The Magnolia, Palm, Eagle Pines and Osprey Ridge courses will carry a fee of $55, while the Lake Buena Vista course will cost $45. Rates include the use of an electric cart, and are $34-$44 cheaper than regular rates.
The rates include the use of an electric cart and are discounted from the before-10 a.m. prices of $99 for resort guests/$109 for day visitors (Magnolia and Osprey Ridge), $89 for resort guests/$99 for day visitors (Palm and Eagle Pines) and $79 for resort guests/$89 for day visitors (Lake Buena Vista). To reserve a tee time, call 407-WDW-GOLF (407-939-4653) or go to the Disney Golf Web site (link). Note that the site's front page still appears to have difficulty with browsers other than Internet Explorer. Once you get past the front page, you should be all right.
(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.