Epcot turns 25 today. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Epcot celebrates its 25th birthday this morning at 10:01 a.m. The park opened as EPCOT Center following a promotional campaign that proclaimed, "The Future Begins on October 1, 1982." While the park has chanced much over the years, it's still a Disney theme park like no other. We'll have more about the celebration in next week's Park Update.
Disney is officially announcing the details of the extended Year of a Million Dreams program today on the Good Morning America TV program MousePlanet's Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix is at Disneyland for the announcement, and will provide all of the details in a special column tomorrow. We will also post the official press release from Disney as soon as we receive itcheck our MousePad discussion boards for the latest.
Disney Vacation Club members with ownership interests in the Old Key West Resort have begun receiving their lease extension packets in the mail. The packets spell out the terms of the deal, and the rumored discount is included, for a limited time.
Members can extend their leases from January 2042 to January 2057 by paying a special assessment of $25 per vacation point. If the assessment is paid in full by February 29, 2008, Disney pays $10 per vacation point toward the cost, making the net cost to the member $15 per vacation point. Those who choose not to extend must deed back the extension to Disney, retaining their original terms with a 2042 end date.
Those who choose to extend to 2057 will have the same expiration date as those who purchase their ownership at the Animal Kingdom Villas. Saratoga Springs ownership runs through 2054.
Still, many of the original questions surrounding the extension remain unanswered. For example, can those who elect not to extend their ownership interest change their mind and repurchase their extra 15 years from DVD later on? If they don't extend, what will that do to the resale value of the points? 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 have about five months to make up their minds, complete their financing and pay in full) 35 years in advance?
Apparently, the discounts released back in August didn't sell all of the rooms that Disney had hoped, so a new round of room-only discounts for October 21 through December 23. The discounts are available for Sunday through Thursday nights only; Friday and Saturday nights will be at the prevailing seasonal rates. Disney is pushing the rates at the Disney Deluxe Villa and Value Resorts, though some rates at other resorts may be available.
Value resort rates are $59, $69 or $89 per night, depending on the week. Deluxe Villas go for $164, $180, or $210 per night.
Availability at all resorts is extremely limited, and you must book these packages by October 20.
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!
A couple of pin events have been announced for next year, and pin trading night information has been announced for the next couple of months.
Next May, Expedition: PINS takes place at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Special pins representing earth, wind, fire and water will be your quest, taking you from the "ancient city of Tradeapin" to the Forbidden Mountain, including an encounter with the Yeti. The cost is $150 per person, and registration starting in November. Watch the event site for more details.
With this year's pin celebration in the rear-view mirror, it must be time to announce next year's event. Disney's Pin Celebration 2008 PTU: School of Trading is scheduled to take place September 5-7, 2008 at Epcot's World Showplace. Watch the event site for cost and registration information.
Dates and locations have been set for the next two months of Mickey's Pin Trading Night. The October event takes place on October 19 from 5-9 p.m. at the Contemporary Resort's Convention Center, with attendees invited to wear their favorite Halloween costume. The featured pin release will be five pins from the "Walt Disney Quotes" series. The November event takes place on November 16 from noon until 8 p.m. at the Contemporary Convention Center's Ballroom of the Americas, and will follow the "Pirates of Castaway Cay" pin trading cruise.
Following the third story in three weeks about Walt Disney World cast members being arrested for possession of child pornography, we asked you whether or not we should continue to report these stories. Boy, did you respond! With 60 responses in the first day, and 85 as of this writing, this is easily the question that has inspired the most responses in the over four years that this editor has been creating the Park Update.
54 percent of you said that we should keep reporting these stories as we have been. Eight percent think that we should only report them if the incidents happen on property or involve guests. Thirty-three percent want us to not cover them at all. The other five percent either had no preference or wanted us to continue coverage, but maybe outside of the Park Update.
Responses ranged from, "Not that they're pleasant stories, but with your absence of tabloid-style lead-ins implying a "Disney problem," they're almost refreshing to read," to "I do realize that these things happen there too, but sometimes ignorance is bliss." Some told us to leave reporting of these stories to "the press" or the "news media." Well, we (and Walt Disney World) consider ourselves "press" and "news media." Others more properly identified their preferred source of this news as "mainstream media" or "traditional media."
Taking the responses into consideration, we will continue to report these stories. We will try to find ways to cover them while minimizing the discomfort for those who don't wish to see it.
All e-mail have been forwarded for possible inclusion in an upcoming MousePlanet Mailbag column. Thanks for your feedback. It's always good to know what our readers are thinking, and difficult to decide how to proceed when feelings are strong and nearly evenly balanced among the contested viewpoints.
Cast Place editor Shoshana Lewin has passed along the following information received from Walt Disney World Casting:
As a part of the Disney Professional Internship experience, participants will see first-hand the working business model of a world-renowned international corporation and participate in its daily operation. In addition, professional interns can experience a world of opportunity to enhance their education by taking courses offered through the Disney University, as well as engage in exclusive Cast Member events, make new friends, and become part of the legacy, heritage and pride of thousands worldwide as a member of The Walt Disney Company Cast Member team.
A professional internship can vary in length from two weeks to six months, depending on the contracted assignment, site location and line of business. Positions are continuously posted to fit the needs of the different sites and projects.
The program is open to students who will have graduated from a four-year college or university by December, 2007, within the prior 10 months (March, 2007 December, 2007). Information on this program is also available on the Disney Interns Web site.
The deadline to apply is October 5, 2007. For more information, visit DisneyInterns.com
Discuss this program on our MousePad discussion forums.
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:
The Disney Cruise Line has announced a list of holiday goings-on. Check out the press releases on the MousePad discussion forums for information about holiday goings on aboard the cruise ships and at Walt Disney World.
Tusker House is now taking reservations, though Yak & Yeti Restaurant (which has a confirmed opening date of November 15) has not starting taking reservations yet.
Disney's 5K Family Safari (a.k.a. Disney's Family Fun Run 5K) during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, is currently at 86% of the registration capacity. Time is running out to register for the race.
Cypress Gardens, the oldest theme park in the state of Florida, was sold at a bankruptcy auction last week to Land South Holdings LLC of Mulberry, Florida for $17 million. The park never recovered after being hit by three major storms during the 2004 hurricane season and a resulting insurance coverage dispute.
This week's question: This week's question was submitted by MousePlanet reader Lloyd Lawrence. In October 1982, when the French and British pavilions officially opened at EPCOT Center, the representatives of those countries arrived in Orlando (on October 18, to be precise) in notable fashion. How? Stay tuned to next week's park update for the answer.
The answer to last week's question: "The land of Africa in the Animal Kingdom consists of one village: Harambe. In Swahili, what does Harambe mean?", which was submitted by MousePlanet reader JillAnn, is:
"Working together." This is supposed to be about wildlife and humans "working together" as the theme of nearby Kilimanjaro Safari would suggest.
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 the end of September through md-December. Discounts are available for select resorts for most nights from September 30 through December 23. (The nights of November 21-24 and November 30-December 7 are excluded at non-DVC resorts, most likely due to Thanksgiving weekend and the Pop Warner Super Bowl invasion, while only the Thanksgiving dates are blocked at the DVC resorts.) There are two effective rate periods for this discount, with September 30-October 3, November 25-29, and December 8-19 carrying passholder rates of $59 per night in value resorts and $164 per night in a DVC studio. The remaining dates in the promotion period (except for the nights of November 21-24, which have no discounts due to Thanksgiving weekend) have nightly passholder rates starting at $79 for values and $194 for DVC studios. Florida resident rates are $5 higher than passholder rates.
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.
An interesting twist on this deal is that, for certain check-in dates, you can get a Disney Dining Card with $20-$100 per room with your minimum 2-night reservation. This perk is available for stays with check-in dates between October 21-November 3, November 11-17 and December 9-15. The card can be used toward food & beverage only, and not toward merchandise.
Rooms available at these rates are very limited, and they're going quickly!
(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.