Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members with ownership interests in Disney's Old Key West Resort (legally known as "Disney Vacation Club at Walt Disney World Resort") received a letter last week informing them that there would be a vote on September 24 at the Contemporary Resort Convention Center to consider an offer to extend the lease on the resort.
The deal would have Disney Vacation Development (DVD), which owns the land, extend the lease to the Disney Vacation Club Management Corp. (DVCMC) for an additional 15 years (through January 31, 2057) for the sum of $25 per vacation point for the entire resort. DVCMC would then levy a special assessment against DVC members of the same $25 per vacation point in order to extend their leases to 2057. The assessment would be due and payable by February 29, 2008.
Members would then have the option of either paying the assessment and extending to 2057 (the same expiration date as the new ownership interests in the Animal Kingdom Villas) or paying the assessment by "executing a deed (with the formalities required by Florida law) conveying to DVD their Ownership Interest for the period from January 31, 2042, to January 31, 2057."
Since DVD is the authorized voting representative for all DVC members that do not elect to vote otherwise, DVD plans to vote to approve the deal. In other words, the September 24 vote is just a formality.
There are many issues surrounding this plan. For those that elect not to extend their ownership interest, can they change their mind and re-purchase their extra 15 years from DVD later on? If they don't extend, what will that do to the resale value of the points? Some discussion forums are speculating that DVCMC may offer a special deal to reduce the assessment by as much as $10 per point, though that remains to be seen. Why is Old Key West the only one receiving this offer? What about the rest of the 2042-class resorts (Hilton Head, Vero Beach, BoardWalk, Beach Club and Wilderness Lodge)? Why are they forcing this decision on DVC members (who will have about five months to make up their minds, complete their financing and pay in full) 35 years in advance?
You can join the discussion of this topic on our MousePad discussion forums.
We have made some changes to the forum structure on MousePad. We know that questions related to trip planning can get lost amid the general chatter of the resort forums, so we've created sections devoted just to trip planning topics. We think this is going to make it easier for readers to ask for help, and to help other members. We've also moved the Trip Reports forums to be with their related theme parks.
The biggest change has been made within the Walt Disney World section, because we know that planning a trip to Florida is usually a more complicated process. We reserve the right to further split or merge the sub forums if we don't think they are doing what we expected them to do.
Here is the structure we will be creating:
Everything elseEntertainment, the Lounge, etc.will remain the same.
We have not gone through the previous resort-level forums to move existing threads to their new topic forum. Those can all be found in the News and Current Events forums. New threads on trip planning topics should be started in the appropriate forum.
Why not stop by, check them out, and let us know what you think!
The construction wall around the Sorcerer's Hat is only for upgrading the light show effects to a new LED system. Sorry, it's not going away. Photo by Jack Chandler.
This year, due to the success and ever-increasing size of MouseFest, the cost of holding the event is rising rapidly. While all participating communities are contributing and some (like MousePlanet) are providing underwriting sponsorships, it's still not enough to cover all of the costs of the event.
That's why the MouseFest Organizing Committee is asking all attendees to register for MouseFest. Registration is not required, but registered attendees will receive additional benefits not available to unpaid attendees. Many questions about registration are answered in the registration FAQ on the MouseFest site. Other questions or discussion can be directed to the MouseFest Registration thread on our MousePad discussion forums.
Whether you decide to register or not, please fill out our pre-arrival survey, which will help us to gauge attendance figures.
MouseFest has also arranged for a special discounted rate at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort for MouseFest! Stay near the heart of MouseFest action within walking distance of Epcot(r), Disney-MGM Studios, Disney's BoardWalk entertainment district, Disney's Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf courses, and Saturday's MouseFest's Mega Mouse Meet at the Walt Disney World Dolphin. To learn more about this offer, visit the MouseFest.org web site.
MousePlanet will be hosting five events at MouseFest, with staff writer David Koenig hosting a sixth. For a complete listing of events and for RSVP information, check out our MouseFest information page.
Guests currently staying at Walt Disney World are receiving flyer offering a special "bounce-back" offer for free dining. Guests staying at a Disney resort between August 31 and September 30 can book a return trip between August 30 and September 27 next year for free dining with a Magic Your Way package using code ZSM. The cast member booking the trip will verify that you are currently staying in a Disney resort in order to book the trip.
Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations for this information.
Disney ran a similar promotion last year between mid-November and the end of the year. This is probably a good indication that we'll see another last-summer free dining offer appear next spring, though it's no guarantee.
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!
Disney's Magical Express has signed on another carrier. On Wednesday, US Airways becomes the ninth carrier to participate in the resort check-in program. This addition means that eight of the nine largest carriers at Orlando International Airport are participating in the program. The lone holdout is the largest of them all. Southwest Airlines, with 19.27 percent of all traffic at the airport in 2006, is still working on an agreement with Disney and Bags Inc. to participate. The difficulties appear to be in synchronizing the reservations systems. They hope to have a deal in place by early next year.
The airlines that are signed onAirTran, Alaska, American, Continental, Delta, jetBlue, Northwest, United (including Ted) and now US Airwayswere responsible for nearly 62 percent of all passengers flying into Orlando International in 2006. Once Disney gets Southwest signed, that will give over 81 percent of all passengers the eligibility to use the service.
International travelers still cannot use the service, though Bags Inc. is working with airlines to hammer out logistics and security now that it has got approval from the Transportation Security Administration. They hope to add some international flights by year's end.
Both Disney and the airport are pleased with the service. Disney gets the guests to spend more time on property without the worry of getting to the airport in time and (for arriving guests) to spend more time in the parks instead of in the airport. The airport has shorter lines at check-in lines, less luggage to get through the screening machines in the lobby, and (for incoming passengers) less luggage to put in the baggage claim carousels.
The test of the repurposed FountainView Ice Cream Parlor has proven so popular that the shop's hours have been extended to 12:30 8:30 p.m. Photo by Jack Chandler.
Due to the delayed re-opening of the Teppan Edo (formerly Mitsukoshi Teppanyaki) restaurant at Epcot's Japan pavilion, those with reservations at the restaurant through the end of October are receiving phone calls from Disney Dining to move their reservations to other restaurants. Those being moved are also being offered "VIP viewing of Illuminations." Apparently, the World Showcase Plaza area between the two souvenir buildings will be roped off and reserved for those who have been inconvenienced by the unavailability of their dining preference.
For those who don't want to wait to be called by Disney Dining, MousePad member Beach Gal has posted a phone number that you can use for this purpose only. As Beach Gal notes, "If you had a reservation at the Teppanyaki Restaurant in the Japan Pavilion of Epcot and wish to make a new reservation, call this number: 800-711-4344. This number is strictly for guests who had a reservation at the Teppanyaki Restaurant. Guests may not use this line to skip the 407-WDW Dine number."
A Disney food services worker was arrested Thursday evening as he left work at the Disney-MGM Studios on federal child pornography charges. Tony Guerra was caught by the FBI's "Innocent Images" task force after he contacted an Australian undercover agent posing as a 32-year-old mother of two. He was allegedly looking for "hardcore videos involving babies" and sent the agent 63 still photos and four videos of baby pornography. Investigators reportedly found thousands of images on his computer after searching his apartment in Kissimmee.
Guerra had been working at Disney for a year. Disney spokesperson Kim Prunty told MousePlanet, "We take allegations of this nature very seriously. He has been placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of the charges."
Have you visited the MousePlanet and MouseStation Podcast CafePress stores? There's all sorts of cool logo-wear and other stuff that will help you deal with the end-of-summer blahs or the back-to-school blues. Check it out!
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.
This week's listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County last week:
Work on Tusker House is progressing nicely. The restaurant is on target to reopen on November 17 in its new configuration as a buffet. Photo by Jack Chandler.
The 2008 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will be even longer than last year, starting more than two weeks earlier than before. The 15th annual event starts on Wednesday, March 19 and run through Sunday, June 1 a whopping 75 days. Something tells me that the Flower Power concert series will feature a bunch of acts who have never played Disney before.
Walt Disney World has increased their parking fees by one dollar across the board as of this past Saturday. Car and motorcycle parking now costs $11, up from $10. Campers and trailers cost $12, up from $11. Buses and tractor trailers cost $15, up from $14. Parking for resort guests and passholders remains free.
A tower crane has now appeared on the site of the DVC resort being built adjacent to the Contemporary Resort as vertical construction is under way.
The Tower of Terror 13K continues to fill at an increasing pace, and was at 85 percent of capacity at press time. It will likely soon join the Tower of Terror 6.5K, plus the Walt Disney World Marathon, Half Marathon and Goofy Challenge in sold-out status. Disney's Family Fun Run 5K during Marathon Weekend is currently holding at 60% of the registration capacity.
ESPN The Weekend will return to Disney's Hollywood Studios (start getting used to the new name) for the fifth time February 29 through March 2. The Leap Weekend events will be presented by Dick's Sporting Goods.
There are now rumored dates to go with the "Illuminations globe being refurbished" rumor. Expect the video screens to be replaced by additional pyrotechnics from September 523.
The Disney Magic returned to Port Canaveral over the weekend, after spending the summer touring the Mediterranean. The ship has resumed its normal schedule of 7-day Caribbean cruises.
Raglan Road Irish Restaurant & Pub will be celebrating "Half Way to St. Paddy's Day" on September 14 and 15. The events, taking place after 5 p.m. each day, will feature such entertainment as U2 tribute band "Elevation," the house Irish band Tuskar Rock, and champion Irish dancer Danielle Fitzpatrick.
This week's question: This week's question was submitted by MousePlanet reader Jimmy McKinley. What is the oldest attraction in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom? Stay tuned to next week's park update for the answer.
The answer to last week's question: "What was removed from Space Mountain after the advent of the FastPass?", which was submitted by MousePlanet reader Melissa, is:
Future news Televisions!
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 Caf!. 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 Caf restaurant, Giraffe Tavern sports bar, Marketessen deli-style caf and Sips Pool Bar are ready to serve you.
We'd like to invite you to try their hospitality!
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.