Nearly two months after what was originally labeled a minor incident, an Alabama woman was returned to Orlando and arrested on felony battery charges for a an assault on a local woman at the Magic Kingdom's Mad Tea Party attraction. On May 27, Aimee Krause, Victoria Walker and their chidren were waiting in the final holding area before boarding the spinning teacups when Walker accused Krause of jumping the queue.
Walker, who was in line with her 11-year-old daughter, accused Krause, her children (ages 6 and 7), and a friend's two children, of jumping ahead in line. Walker yelled obscenities about the perceived slight and shoved two children with Krause as they waited. As Krause finished putting the children on the ride, Walker kicked her from behind. The 230-pound Walker, who at 5-foot-11 stands six inches taller than Krause, grabbed Krause from behind and started beating her. Walker had to be pulled off of Krause.
Krause and others reportedly asked for the ride operator to call security and have Walker removed. Disney security did not appear on the scene until right after the attack. Krause claims that the ride operator did not respond quickly enough.
For her part, Walker (who, according to the sheriff's report, had an earlier assault arrest in Alabama) claimed that Krause elbowed her while they were in the queue and later kicked backwards and hit her.
At first, sheriff's deputies thought that it was a minor altercation and allowed Walker to go home to Alabama. However, after Krause's doctors determined that she had sustained a concussion and a herniated disc in her cervical spine, and was having post-traumatic seizures, the Orlando County Sheriff's Office issued a felony arrest warrant and had Walker arrested in Alabama and transported to Orlando. Walker was released from Orange County Jail on Tuesday after posting $4,000 bail.
While discussing the decision to remove the wand at Epcot a couple of weeks ago, we closed by noting, "We asked Disney what role Siemens (the new sponsor of the Spaceship Earth attraction) played in the decision to remove the wand, and whether the removal of the wand signaled a possible change in the previous decision (under Rex) that there would be no official celebration of Epcot's 25th anniversary. At press time, Disney had not yet responded."
Since then, we've heard from Disney and from another well-placed source who asked to remain anonymous. We attempted to contact Brad Rex for this story, but received no response.
First of all, our unofficial source notes that the decision not to have an official celebration of Epcot's 25th anniversary was not Rex's. In fact, Rex promoted the idea of a month-long celebration featuring a different event each day for each of the previous 25 years (with the first and last days covering all years, and a few years in between taking more than one day, in order to fill out the 31 days of October). However, Disney Parks marketing execs were reportedly concerned that it would distract guests from the overall Year of a Million Dreams event. Rex also was reportedly in favor of the wand coming down. However, the former Navy officer followed the party line and dutifully carried the official message of no celebration and the wand staying up.
According to our source, when new Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton came in, as with all new bosses, she looked to make some changes to make it more of "her team." Rex and Lee Cockerell left (or were pushed) and were replaced by Jim MacPhee and Erin Wallace. All are capable individuals, so this is less a reflection of the abilities of those involved than of management styles and comfort levels. The source also indicated that the changeover has not yet been completed, and at least one more park VP position may see turnover before the end of the year.
As to the response from Disney, the official party line now states, "We will celebrate our anniversary on October 1st and we have some exciting plans in place including several events for our Cast Members. Many of them have been here since opening day. We have also planned a few special surprises for our guests on our anniversary." We've gotten no response yet to follow-up questions as to the possible nature of those plans or surprises.
As to the role of Siemens in the dismantling of the wand, Disney's official answer was "They weren't involved in the decision to remove the wand. Since Spaceship Earth was already closed for enhancements we decided to take advantage of this time to restore it to its original classic look. The Mickey Mouse gloved hand and wand treatment was installed as part of the Millennium Celebration and then updated for the 100 years of Magic celebration. From time to time, we add special treatments to our icons to enhance or 'dress them up' for our celebration. We made changes to Cinderella Castle for our 50th anniversary celebration and then restored it back to its original state."
We'll let you know as more information becomes available.
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Many of these dining changes we've already reported, some are new, but Disney announced them all on its public relations Web site, so we figured that we'd run them all down for you at once to better show the scope of the changes.
Alfredo's closing: The Italy pavilion's L'Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante closes on August 31 and reopens under new management (the Patina Group, operators of Catal, Naples and Tortilla Jo's at Anaheim's Downtown Disney) the next day under the name "Tutto Italia." Tutto Italia itself closes in Spring 2008, when the entire space will be completely remodeled, and then reopen in Fall 2008 under yet another new name.
Japan shuffle: Changes are afoot at the three eateries upstairs above the Mitsukoshi department store at the Japan pavilion. Mitsukoshi Teppanyaki is closed for refurbishment through August 20, and reopens on August 21 with a new name: Teppan Edo. The other two restaurants, Tempura Kiku and Matsunoma Lounge, will be replaced this fall by a new dining location called Tokyo Dining, showcasing traditional cuisine and ingredients of Japan with an emphasis on sushi and innovative presentation. Yakitori House, across the courtyard, will be unaffected.
China upgrades: Changes at the China pavilion begin with a new "Joy of Tea" outdoor cart featuring "hot and cold teas, frozen green tea concoctions and alcoholic choices such as plum wine and wine green tea slush." The Lotus Blossom Cafe has been renovated with a new menu, featuring Beijing barbecue chicken, sesame chicken salad and rou jia mo, a popular Chinese sandwich of sliced beef in toasted wheat-flour flatbread. The Nine Dragons restaurant closes in early 2008 for renovations that include the creation of an exhibition kitchen.
Tequila!: This summer, the Mexico pavilion will see the appearance of a new tequila bar in the pavilion's indoor courtyard. By next summer, a project to create a new menu and expand the seating at the Cantina de San Angel.
This November, the Yak & Yeti Restaurant opens in Asia at Disney's Animal Kingdom, serving Asian-fusion cuisine. It will offer table service dining, a full-service bar, quick-service food and a beer garden. Yak & Yeti will seat 250 indoors for table service and 350 in a courtyard for quick-service. The location will also have retail offerings from Asia including silk purses, incense, saris and fine teapots.
Meanwhile, back at Downtown Disney, T-Rex is supposed to open in early 2008. The restaurant will combine table-service and a retail shop with a prehistoric theme centered around water, fire and ice.
Tusker to go buffet: With the opening of Yak & Yeti in November, some additional shuttling takes place. Tusker House is converting to a buffet-only restaurant, open daily from 8:00-10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. until park close, and featuring Donald's Safari Breakfast, a new character meal. The Donald's Breakfastasaurus character breakfast at Restaurantosaurus closes November 5, though the restaurant itself remains open daily from 10:30 a.m. until park close.
Healthy kids' meals: In keeping with Disney's new policy on healthier food, Walt Disney World has been reworking children's menus. Carrot sticks and 1 percent milk or bottled water have become the standards if no alternatives are requested. Guest will have to ask for french fries or soda.
Buh-bye, trans fats: Continuing with the healthy food initiative, Disney is working on ways to remove all trans fats from food served in the parks and resorts. Partially hydrogenated oils will also be a thing of the past. hamburgers, buns and pizzas have undergone changes to decrease fat and carbohydrates. Candy, packaged food and bakery items will also be in for changes in the near future, as recipes are reformulated and repackaged to modify portion sizes.
Tea cocktails arrive: The latest creation of Disney's beverage team is the tea-infused cocktail. Offered in most lounges and table-service restaurants, these cocktails include the Zen-tini, Lemon Verbena Martini and Iced Chai Tea Latte. After-dinner tea drinks include the Cassis Infusion and Vanilla Rooibos Soother.
Swan gets new Italian restaurant: To replace the former Palio's restaurant, the Walt Disney World Swan hotel has brought in the latest location of Il Mulino, a restaurant from New York City. The 220-room restaurant is open for dinner each night.
Kitchen moves: There have been some changes among the chefs at top Walt Disney World restaurants. Chef Jens Dahlmann has moved from the Flying Fish Cafe at the BoardWalk Resort to the California Grill atop the Contemporary Resort. To replace Dahlmann at Flying Fish, Disney has brought in Chef Tim Keating, who was most recently the executive chef at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, Florida, and before that the executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Houston.
One dining note not included in the announcement by Disney was the departure of popular chef Anette Grecchi Gray, chef de cuisine at Jiko The Cooking Place at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. Grecchi Gray, whose Disney career started at Narcoossee's, left to take a position with Carlson Cos., owner of T.G.I. Friday's and other brands. No official word yet on her replacement.
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 email.
Cirque du Soleil is cutting prices for tickets to La Nouba for Florida residents and Disney Vacation Club members in order to boost late-summer ticket sales. From August 1 through September 22, Florida residents and DVC members can purchase Category 3 seats for $49 plus tax, with Category 2 seats available for $63 plus tax. Regular-priced Category 3 tickets are $63 plus tax ($50 plus tax for children ages 3-9), while regular-priced Category 2 tickets are $79 plus tax ($63 plus tax for children).
Proof of Florida residency or DVC membership is required, and other restrictions apply. The discount is not valid on previously purchased tickets, gift certificates, or with any other offer.
Florida residents may purchase discounted tickets by calling 407-WDW-SEAT (407-939-7328). DVC members should call Member Services.
The American Heritage Gallery at the American Adventure pavilion closes today for "enhancements that will include National Treasures such as Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, Rosa Parks, and Abraham Lincoln." It reopens on September 27.
When the new Jedi Training Academy stage a the Disney-MGM Studios is completed this fall, it is expected to run up to eight shows per day, with up to a dozen children participating per show.
The those wondering, it's officially over. The Big Bamboo Lounge has finally been torn down.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers open training camp this week at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex.
This week's question: This week's question was submitted by MousePlanet reader Nicholas Steinhoff. Why is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror painted in that "off pink" color? Stay tuned to next week's park update for the answer.
The answer to last week's question: "In Cranium Command, who plays the girl (Annie) the main character (Bobby) falls in love with?", which was submitted by MousePlanet reader Sean Boundy, is:
Natalie Gregory, most noted for playing Alice in the 1985 TV movie Alice in Wonderland (and who also voiced Jenny in the Disney animated feature Oliver and Company)..
Addendum to last week's answer: Reader Jeff points out that there are actually two Web pages open on the computer in the '90s section of Pop Century. While the ABCnews.com site is in the larger window, another smaller window is open to Disney.com/Playhouse. (The third open window is an e-mail from Mickey extending an invitation to visit the four parks.)
The computer screen in the 90s section of the Pop Century Resort features Disney.com/Playhouse as well as ABCNews.com. Photo by Anthony Uriaus.
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.
MousePlanet sponsor Hotel Royal Plaza, in the Downtown Disney resort area, has enhanced its deal for MousePlanet readers. From now through the end of the year, anyone booking their stay through the MousePlanet web site has been able to receive discounted rates up to 20 percent off on all room types. Now, for a limited time, you can get even more! The discounted rates now include free breakfast for two in the Giraffe Cafe!. Plus children 10 and under always eat breakfast for free! (Two children 10 and under eat free from the kids menu when accompanied by an adult dining from the regular menu.)
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 Cafe restaurant, Giraffe Tavern sports bar, Marketessen deli-style cafe and Sips Pool Bar are ready to serve you.
And so we'd like to invite you to try their hospitality!
Book a new Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise vacation July 1 - August 1, 2007, with Small World Vacations and get one free collapsible sturdy backpack. Backpack will be mailed with final documents. If the reservation is canceled, this offer is null and void. Travel must be complete by December 31, 2008.
This offer is not valid on previously booked reservations or room only reservations.
Let them know that you found Small World Vacations on MousePlanet and include the word "Backpack" in the special request section of our price quote form.
Offer good while supplies last. Substitution may be necessary if supplies are exhausted.
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 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).
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.