A man in his 20s may be charged with filing a false police report after being rescued from the Village Lake near Downtown Disney. Mark Weathersby was reportedly drunk at Pleasure Island on Wednesday night when he apparently decided to try to swim back to his resort rather than walking or taking a Disney bus.
Halfway back to the Saratoga Springs Resort, Weathersby developed cramps and began calling for help. After he was rescued by the Reedy Creek Fire Department, Weathersby apparently got embarassed at being out in the lake by himself and made up a story that he had gone swimming with a friend who was missing. Rescue crews searched for the other swimmer for nearly three hours in a vain attempt to find Weathersby's fictitious friend.
Authorities, now angry about the wasted manpower, will likely file charges against Weathersby for making up the second swimmer.
Folks, Village Lake isn't for swimming. If you don't want to take a bus and the boat isn't running any more, walk back to Saratoga Springs. Don't try to take the shorcut through the water.
After the "abduction" story from a couple of weeks back and the Saratoga Spring Resort swimmer, you would hope that Downtown Disney would be able to keep a low profile for a little while.
No such luck. The latest news from the nighttime district is that Disney has ramped up its nighttime security force on weekends to take a closer look at the crowds on the Island. "A gang-like presence was unfortunately identified at Downtown Disney and it will not be tolerated. Additional deputies were proactively assigned to patrol the area and will continue as long as needed," Disney spokewoman Jacquee Polak told MousePlanet. "Our priority, and that of law enforcement, is to maintain a safe experience for our employees and tens of thousands of guests who visit Downtown Disney everyday to shop, dine and enjoy our entertainment offerings."
Last weekend, 50 youths were told never to return to Disney property.
Disney has released discounted room rates for passholders and Florida residents for August and September. Discounts are available for select Disney Vacation Club and deluxe resorts for most nights from August 5 to September 29, and at moderate and value resorts for most nights August 59, August 1229 and September 229.
For passholders and Florida residents, 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 all deluxe resorts, with passholder rates $5 per night less than Florida resident rates. Some sample rates are garden view rooms at the Polynesian ($249 passholder/$254 resident), Contemporary ($225/$230) and Grand Floridian ($295/$300).
Rates at the moderates start at $94 per night for passholders and $99 per night for Florida residents. Value resorts start at $64 for both passholders and Florida residents.
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.
Discount codes are FDR (passholder) and FDT (Florida residents).
Perhaps tired of members who made multiple wait list reservations, only to decline the new reservation when available or not be reachable by phone to confirm the change, the Disney Vacation Club has implemented automatic confirmations for waitlisted accommodations.
Once a member has made a waitlist request, the request remains active until 31 days prior to the desired check-in date. When a match is made, the new reservation is automatically confirmed, and the member notified in writing, with all other waitlist requests or previously reserved accommodations for those dates automatically cancelled. Unconfirmed waitlist requests can be cancelled at any time by calling Member Services. This will likely make more waitlisted reservations become available, as there will be no waitlist calls at the 31-day mark that go unanswered, leaving the rooms unbooked while a waitlist exists for them.
Effective July 1, a similar procedure will be in place for all exchanges through Interval International. When a member search request for accommodations finds a match, Interval International will automatically confirm that booking, cancel all other searches attached to that request, and notify the member in writing. Standard cancellation procedures will then apply to that reservation.
What does this mean for DVC members who often make multiple waitlist or exchange requests, planning to make a decision when accommodations become available? Don't make frivolous requests just to see what's available. If you aren't willing to stay somewhere, don't put your name on the list, because you won't get any choice once one of your options becomes available. It's yours and all of your other waitlist or exchange requests will disappear.
For more information about these procedures, call the Disney Vacation Club. Current and prospective DVC members can discuss this in the new DVC forum on MousePad.
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!
If you're a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World, you may have noticed recently that it doesn't take as long to get you checked in or checked out. That's because of a new process implemented by a project team that streamlined the technology required to handle the procedures, which lets the front desk cast members spend less time working with their computer and more time talking to the guests.
The new system started being rolled out late last year, and has made a noticeable impact on front desk transactions. "This way, our front desk cast members spend less time looking at their computer monitors and more time personally interacting with each guest," said Judy Kirby, senior analyst with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts IT Communications. "We're always striving to make each part of a guest's stay more magical."
The project was so successful that it was one of six winners of the third annual IT Innovation Awards from IBM, which recognizes best-in-class, innovative uses of technology that deliver true benefits to their businesses.
A wildfire in the Osceola National Forest on May 13 left an injured bear with a cub in need of medical assistance. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), along with local organizations, rescued the bears from the fire and took them to the University of Florida Veterinary Medical Center (UF VMC) in Gainesville. The mother had suffered third-degree burns an all four feet, while the cub was dehydrated but not burned.
After receiving emergency medical care at UF VMC, the bears were taken to Disney's Animal Kingdom on May 18 for medical treatment and rehabilitation. The bears were kept in a special area to isolate them from regular human contact, while Disney veterinarians treated the mother's burns and changed her bandages regularly. The bears received a normal diet including berries, cabbage palm and fish, preparing them for a return home.
"The Disney team of animal experts took great pride in rehabilitating these bears, and we are grateful for the partnership between all the institutions that made their treatment and release as natural as possible," said Dr. Scott Terrell, of Walt Disney World Animal Programs.
Last week, the bears were returned to the wild. "We all worked together to make this happen. This has been a great partnership between FWC, UF and Disney," said Matt Pollock, regional biologist at the FWC's Olustee field office, "And I like the fact that we have a happy ending for these two bears. We were able to release them within five miles of the [mother's] historical home range. They needed to get back 'home' and be wild again."
Walt Disney World has partnered with the Pine Hills Boys & Girls Club this summer to take 150 kids through a program called "Cruise Around the World 2007." The 12-week summer camp progream features visits from International Program cast members from the 10 foreign pavilions around Epcot's World Showcase and Disney Cruise Line crew members.
Each week, campers will experience different parts of a cruise vacation through guest speakers, a passport guide, independent study, field trips, food, games, dance, music, arts, and crafts. Representatives from "ports of call" in Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom and Canada answer questions from the children about their native countries.
The cast members appear to be touched by the experience, as well. Norwegian International Program member Pernille Gusfre noted: "My favorite moment was when five girls around 6 years old were all playing with and pulling my hair and they were so amazed that it was so light and straight! The whole experience was awesome! It was great to be able to see a different side of the Disney Company. I would love to do it again!"
"This is a great way for these summer camp students to learn about different countries, develop relationships with our Cast Members, and gain a greater understanding of international cultures," said Eugene Campbell, director of Walt Disney World Community Relations. The program is an initiative of Disney's Helping Kids Shine program, whose goal is to engage children in society by creating healthy, guiding relationships with adults, providing constructive free time activities, offering character-building opportunities, and encouraging a sense of compassion for others, while helping those children who face adversity.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (link). Please note that there is a 5MB limit on total attachments in a single e-mail.
We received a number of theories regarding the nature of the unusual work on the shore of Crescent Lake that we reported last week. The apparent explanation comes to us courtesy of MousePlanet columnist Mike Scopa. Apparently, those on lake patrol "...sometimes work after hours to pull excess seaweed from the lake as a type of environmental control to keep it from taking over. They place it in large black garbage bags. It [is] very heavy and very difficult work."
Thanks to all who wrote in with their ideas!
This week's listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
The refurbishment of Spaceship Earth has been extended from November 1 to November 13. The attraction closes on July 9. Last week's two-day closure was cancelled.
O Canada closes August 20-24. Rumor is that the new film shot last year will be installed in the theater. No word on whether the theme song will change.
We received several comments regarding the campfire and movies at the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts. They apparently have a powerful sound system, a large inflatable screen and a DVD projector right up by the water near the shipwreck on the beach. The campfire is held at 8:00 p.m., with the movie at 9:00 p.m. Movies reported include Cars and Lilo and Stitch.
MousePlanet's Mike Scopa reports that Disney is installing interactive kiosks in the Soarin' queue line. These kiosks will talk to each other and allow for interactive friendly competition with people in line.
We are hearing that, despite the fact that 112 food service jobs will be lost when L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante closes at Epcot's Italy pavilion on August 31, all displaced workers will be offered jobs with the Patina Group for the new, as-yet-unnamed restaurant that will replace Alfredo's on September 1.
Those of you who fly Airtran to Walt Disney World will need to get used to a new location. Effective Wednesday, Airtran is relocating from Airside 2 in Terminal A to Airside 4 in Terminal B at Orlando International Airport. By moving to gates 90-97, the airline will have more room for expansion than they have currently.
This week's question: This week's question was submitted by MousePlanet reader Mike Andrews. When I was at WDW in April, riding the friendship boat from MGM to the Epcot resorts area, the cast member driving the boat challenged everyone on board to answer the ultimate Disney trivia question. The question was: Name the seven things at WDW that are called "________ Mountain" or "Mt. ________". Can you name all 7? Stay tuned to next week's park update for the answer.
The answer to last week's question: "What parade did Disney create to commemorate the USA's bicentennial?", which was submitted by MousePlanet reader John McAlister is:
America on Parade
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. E-mail 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.