Last week, we reported a late-breaking story about a young couple who claimed to have been abducted by three men from a parking lot as they walked from Downtown Disney Marketplace back to their hotel. On last week's MousePlanetWatch news podcast, we reported an update that Connecticut police stated that they did not believe that the account was 100 percent correct, based upon the fact that the man claming to be abducted was well-known to them to be a drug addict. Now the plot is thickening.
Both Jessica DellaCamera and Justin Stetzer were asked by the Orange County Sheriff's Office to assist in the preparation of composite sketches of their captors. They refused to cooperate. They were also asked to take part in a voice stress examination (kind of a lie-detector test). They refused to cooperate with that, as well. On Wednesday, the two 20-year-olds signed Declaration of Intent (DOI) forms, stating that - even if their abductors were captured - DellaCamera and Stetzer would not press charges against them.
This would certainly make it seem as if their original story is not exactly true. There are many other possible explanations for what may (or may not) have happened, but that will be left as an exercise for the reader.
As we first reported on last week's MousePlanetWatch news podcast, MousePlanet's Mike Scopa and Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations (MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel provider) both informed us of a potential change in reservations policy.
Currently, the rate in effect at your check-in date is the rate that is effective for the entire length of your stay. For those arriving on the last day of value season before the Christmas holiday season, this can present a savings of thousands of dollars, depending on the accommodations, while those who are arriving during higher-rate seasons and staying through lower-rate seasons must create split-stay reservations in order to grab the lower rate at the season change mark.
According to Mike and Sue, as of this Saturday, rates will all be allocated per-night. If you arrive during one season and stay into another, your room rate will change on that date. This is something that most hotel chains do, so it's not unusual that Disney would want to do this. The only question is why they waited so long.
Perhaps the increasing use of Magic Your Way packages is causing accounting nightmares with many families doing the check-out/check-back-in shuffle to grab lower rates, as trying to keep all Disney Dining Plan information straight between the two reservations can be confusing, making it more important to be able to allow families to keep a single reservation (with a single set of dining plan entitlements) and still be able to get the rate drop.
In either case, if you're planning on arriving on December 19 and staying deep into the holiday week, you might want to make your reservations this week and lock in your rates before the change is implemented.
Attention food and wine lovers! If you are waiting for reservations to open for the Special Wine & Culinary Programs and Festival Dining Experiences during this year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, reservations for such events as Party for the Senses and Epcot Wine Schools open at 7 a.m. EDT on August 6. While the details of each event have yet to be released, they should be out soon. In the meantime, keep an eye on the Food & Wine Festival section of the Walt Disney World Web site and we'll post more information as soon as we have it. Also, look for our Food & Wine Festival park guide page to debut soon, with much more information.
Some of that information that will be in the park guide is the schedule for the Eat to the Beat concert series. We have the nearly-complete schedule below (showimes are 5:45 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.):
Last week, we reported on a permit filed with Orange County for installation of a "Disney's MGM Studios - Pixar Studios Facility Package." While there was no time between discovery of the information and the deadline for the Park Update to get more information on the story, the Orlando Sentinel followed up with Disney and reported last Thursday that it appears that only the back half of Mickey Avenue near Toy Story Mania will be renamed to Pixar Studios. Where that leaves Al's Toy Barn and Toy Story Pizza Planet is anybody's guess, unless the new pizza window on Streets of America Backlot spells the end of those other Toy Story locations.
Get your MousePlanet gear!
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!
Want to enjoy a stogie, but the smoking ban in all Disney resort rooms have you stymied? A new option is Fuego by Sosa Cigars, a new upscale cigar bar at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island. Fuego will serve premium wine, beer, spirits, specialty coffees and other non-alcoholic drinks every day from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. Of course, cigars will also be available for purchase.
Sosa Family Cigars also has a premium cigar store at Downtown Disney West Side, featuring a walk-in humidor.
This was originally published in the Disneyland Park Update weeks ago and reported on the MousePlanetWatch news podcast, but it never ended up here in the Walt Disney World Update, so we're reprinting it here now. Disney Interactive announced that with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End video games, they will also be releasing free downloadable game content and cheat codes for the Nintendo DS at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. Guests equipped with a Nintendo DS and own a copy of the game can download the content wirelessly at a hidden "X-marks the Spot" wireless hotspot, located somewhere near the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. The location will not be explicitly revealed, so guests will have to treasure hunt for the hotspot somewhere near the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Disney activated the hotspot on Tuesday, May 22, 2007, and it will remain active through Labor Day weekend. Downloadable bonus content will include cheat codes, three additional costumes, as well as new weapons, locations and characters in multiplayer dueling mode.
Additional information on the game and downloads is available online.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released the schedule for their 2007 training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.
Practices marked with an "ST" are special teams-only workouts. Be aware that not all players attend these practices. The "WT" notation indicates a walk-through on the day before a game. These practices are very brief and are run at half-speed.
As they have for the last five years, the Bucs are taking over the Celebration Hotel during training camp. If you were planning to stay at the hotel during that time frame, that won't happen as the Bucs have leased the entire hotel for that time.
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.
MousePlanet reader Craig passed along an interesting story last Monday night:
Time: 11:00 p.m. I was leaving the boats from the Beach Club/Yacht Club docks and walking toward the Beach Club lobby. Right near the pearl shop there were 6 lifeguards doing something on the beach that I couldn't quite make out. They were I think pulling something huge and black out of the water. Whatever it was it must of been very heavy as they were working with extreme perspiration. 2 hours later I came out the boardwalk for a stroll and they were still working (but apparently on a break since they were just sitting by it). The next morning it was gone!
If you have any information on what was going on there last night, please let us know.
This week's interesting items from items filed with Orange County in the last week:
We've been informed by an inside source that an on-ride photo at Spaceship Earth is "Currently being tested, [and will be implemented] in the near future."
The room renovations at the All-Star Sports Resort will begin shortly. 2 mock-up rooms are being completed now, but the renovation is now scheduled to run into February instead of November. That may pose a bunch of problems, between the Pop Warner week in early December and the series of cheerleader events beginning in January and running through February.
As we noted on last week's MousePlanetWatch news podcast, We've gotten a couple of reports about the "something special" that we were told to keep our eyes out for at All-Star Music and Yacht & Beach Club. At All-Star Music, we've heard that folks have found karaoke sessions for dance parties near the pools, a nightly movie by the Calypso pool and in increase of staff to make it easier for guests to find assistance. Meanwhile, reports from Yacht & Beach indicated a campfire with movies there, as well. It's possible that the other events seen at All-Star Music are also being presented at Yacht & Beach, but they haven't been confirmed yet.
Folks have been asking about Disney's plans for the July 4 holiday. Here's a rundown of the parade and fireworks schedule for the day:
In addition, 1,000 immigrants from dozens of countries will become United States citizens at a swearing-in ceremony on the forecourt of Cinderella Castle, presided over by U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, an immigrant himself. The ceremony will include a performance of the national anthem by naturalized citizen Gloria Estefan and "God Bless the U.S.A." by Lee Greenwood, as well as a flyover of Main Street, U.S.A. by a squadron of Air Force F-15s.
The Lynx shuttle bus between Orlando International Airport and International Drive should have begun running last month. However, complications in funding a crucial Lynx transer station have pushed its debut back to late this fall or early next year.
This week's question: This week's question was submitted by MousePlanet reader John McAlister. What parade did Disney create to commemorate the USA's bicentennial? Stay tuned to next week's park update for the answer.
The answer to last week's question: "In what attraction can you find the 'Glendale Galaxy'?", which was submitted by MousePlanet reader Indy is:
The Great Movie Ride (found on a readout on a computer in the Alien scene).
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 your respective Web sites, by calling your 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.