Once again, Walt Disney World is throwing multiple parties all over property to celebrate the New Year. Some are included in regular admission, while some are hard-ticketed, higher-priced affairs.
Three of the four theme parks will be open to ring in the New Year, all included in standard park admission. The final night of existence of the Disney-MGM Studios (before becoming "Disney's Hollywood Studios") will see the park open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. with three performances of Fantasmic (6:30, 8:30 and 10:00 p.m.) and the Osborne Lights, plus "a special showering of fireworks at midnight." Whether that's the Lights! Camera! Happy New Year! fireworks shown last year or something smaller is unknown at this point.
Hours at the Magic Kingdom will be slightly longer, with the park opening at 8 a.m. and staying open until 1 a.m. There will be two showings of SpectroMagic at 7:00 and 10:30 p.m. In addition, Hoiday Wishes will be seen at 8:30 p.m. and the New Year's edition of Fantasy in the Sky will once again appear at 11:50 p.m.
Epcot will also be open from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m., and will feature live music around the park and two showings of Illuminations. The first showing will be at 7:30 p.m., while the special New Year's extravaganza will run at 11:40 p.m. (Hint: watch from the vicinity of the Germany and Italy pavilions to see the New Year's finale of Illuminations and Fantasy in the Sky at the same time!)
While Disney's Animal Kingdom won't be open until midnight (we don't want any fireworks freaking out the animals now, do we?), the park will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for those who want a longer day at the park before celebrating quietly back in the room (or putting the kids to bed early). The Jingle Jungle Parade will run at 3:45 p.m.
Of course, it's not just the theme parks that celebrate the New Year. Cirque du Soleil will host two special presentations of La Nouba on New Year's Eve, at 6 and 9 p.m. The show will feature a special souvenir program, a "champagne toast celebration," glow sticks and a gift. Tickets are $67-$139 plus tax, depending on location.
While now a couple of years removed from its legendary party with big-name headline acts, Pleasure Island is still holding a six-hour party from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. including live music, dancing in the streets, a dinner buffet, hats and noisemakers, fireworks, midnight champagne toast and fireworks. The party, which will include all seven clubs on the island, will run you $99 plus tax per person. Annual Passholders can get up to two tickets for $89 each plus tax.
While not included in the official press release, it appears that Atlantic Dance at the Boardwalk Resort will also be holding its annual New Year's Eve bash, as well. With a $20 cover charge and first-come, first-served admission, it might be a good option for those who don't want to brave the theme parks and don't want to pay the cost for Pleasure Island. There will be "dueling Video DJ's" playing music videos and tunes from the last 30 years, plus a champagne toast at midnight. You must be 21 years old to enter. If you want to stay at Disney's Animal Kingdom until closing, then dance your way into the New Year, this might be a great choice for you, as the doors open at 9 p.m.
Innoventions has yet another new logo. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Even the construction signs are getting into the 25th anniversary spirit.. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
and yes, we'll have to wait until November 14 before we find out what. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Once again, Walt Disney World will be holding a promotion to let you have Mickey himself give your family the good news that they're going to Walt Disney World with a phone call on Christmas Day. If you book a Walt Disney World vacation between November 23 and December 23, you can sign up to have the Mouse deliver the news.
It's expected that you can once again choose from a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays greeting. If the details from last year repeat, you'll also need to provide your birthdate and a phone number to call on December 25, as well as your reservation number, to schedule the call. The call will be made between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Magic Your Way vacation packages start as low as $58 per person per day for a family of four in a standard room at a value resort. To book your trip, visit disneyworld.com/gift or call 407/W-DISNEY between November 23 and December 23. (The web address is not yet active, so don't try to jump the gun.)
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!
Three weeks ago, we reported about the official terms of the Disney Vacation Club lease extension at the Old Key West Resort and wondered about the remaining unanswered questions. We've finally received official answers to the questions from DVC, though we're not sure how valuable the answers will be to you. Let's take a look:
Q: Can those who elect not to extend their ownership interest change their
mind and repurchase their extra 15 years from DVD later on?
A: "Members are being give the option to add on to their membership or not at this time. We do not have plans at this time to extend the offer again. However, we reserved the right to do so."
Q: If they don't extend, what will that do to the resale value of the
A: "We cannot speculate on the resale value of points."
We followed up by asking:
Q: [W]hile DVC can't speculate on what might happen to resale values, you should be able to speculate on the dollar level at which you'd exercise your right of first refusal, which does have an impact on resale values. Can you project what impact extending vs. not extending might have on the point at which you'd use ROFR to buy the ownership interest back?
A: "We really can't speculate on resale value or the dollar level."
Q: Why is Old Key West the only one receiving this offer? "This is our
flagship resort and this offer was in celebration of our 15th anniversary."
What about the rest of the 2042-class resorts (Hilton Head, Vero Beach, BoardWalk,
Beach Club and Wilderness
A: "Disney's Old Key West Resort is the only property where this offer is being extended at this time."
Q: Why are [you] 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?
A: "It is a Member's choice to add on or elect not to do so. Members are able to finance the extension amount through Disney Vacation Development the same terms we offer for financing of new purchases."
So basically what they're saying is that they're not saying. What's most likely going on here is that this is a trial balloon to gauge interest and response from DVC members. If there is a huge amount of interest, you can probably bet that the other 2042-class resorts will follow. If it falls flat, this will be a one-shot-only deal. Disney will likely watch the resale market to see what happens to the going rate for ownership interests both with the 15-year extension and without before determining what they're going to do with ROFR trigger points. The ability to repurchase the extra 15 years later if not done now will probably be another decision based on market values.
So if you're waiting for Disney to blink first, it's not going to happen. Make your decision based on your best guess as to whether you think that the extension will be good for you. As for me, I'm going to hold off on my decision for now. I'll be at the DVC Condominium Association annual meeting on December 4, and maybe I'll have a little better idea of what I'm going to do after that.
The Disney Vacation Club area is closed for a major refurbishment at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
The Harambe School is an interactive learning adventure in Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Diverse lessons are taught at the Harambe School. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
The Walt Disney World child molestation saga that went public nearly three years ago has finally gotten its last conviction, as Matthew Mancuso pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted sexual battery on a child under 12. We first reported in February 2005 about the release of some photos of a resort where the molestation had taken place in 2001 by Toronto police, which were promptly identified by citizens as having been taken at the Port Orleans French Quarter Resort.
Three months later, the Orange County Sheriff's Office got involved, releasing a photo of another girl who was not involved in the molestation but was believed to be a witness. It only took three weeks to identify the victim and the molester Matthew Mancuso, the girl's adoptive father who had already been convicted in 2004 for molestation.
At the time, the Orange County Sheriff's Office stated that they didn't want to see Mancuso out of prison again, but would not press charges as long as Pennsylvania could guarantee his incarceration in order to avoid dragging the victim through another trial. Apparently, however, since the Pennsylvania case was currently under appeal, the case was brought to the Orange County Circuit Court, with Mancuso facing eight counts of capital sexual battery and life in prison.
Just before the trial was to begin, however, he pleaded guilty to the lesser charges. The conviction will still carry a 14-year sentence. The prosecuting attorney for the state noted that the plea deal was struck to avoid forcing the girl, now 15, to testify again. The Florida term will be served after Mancuso finishes serving a 15-and-a-half year Federal sentence and the 35-year Pennsylvania sentence that is under appeal.
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.
This week's listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
The new High School Musical 2: School's Out enters by driving up Hollywood Boulevard from the park's entrance, then drives back. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
The Backlot Stage will reportedly be the home to some of the concerts during next fall's Nights of Joy. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
It's uncertain whether they'll just open up the theater or if they'll rework it first. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
An alert for those nut-allergic folks out there who may have purchased cookies at Walt Disney World in the last month: Dairy State Foods of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has recalled packages of Minnie's Bake Shop Chocolate Chunk Cookies that were sold at the resort. Apparently, the cookies contain macadamia nuts. The cookies were available between September 18 and October 2. The packages have been pulled from the shelves. However, if you think that you have bought these cookies, look for UPC number 400136148117. Please call 1-800-435-4499 for more information.
The replacement for Dr. Beth Stevens as vice president of Disney's Animal Kingdom is Val Bunting. The 31-year Walt Disney World veteran was formerly general manager of the Magic Kingdom and part of the opening team of Disney's Animal Kingdom. Jackie Ogden, a 10-year cast member, has been promoted from operations leader for Animal Kingdom to vice president in charge of animal programs and environmental initiatives for all of Walt Disney World. Stevens was recently promoted to Senior Vice President Environmental Affairs for Disney Worldwide Services, Inc.
Universal Studios vice president Scott Trowbridge, the man behind The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal's Islands of Adventure park, among others, has been lured away by Walt Disney Imagineering to be vice president for creative research and development, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Trowbridge's departure comes at a critical time for Universal, as they gear up to create The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at IoA for a late 2009 opening.
In last week's Park Update, we wondered what Columbia Harbour House was doing with pizza ovens when they don't serve pizza there. We subsequently received information that the pizzas were for sale at the Liberty Square Market, with further information that Mickey waffles are now available at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments.
The Segway X2 tour of Fort Wilderness that we reported on back in July has now been made permanent. The "Wilderness Back Trail Adventure" is offered twice a day on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for $85. Cost is $85. Guests must be 16 years or older to participate and reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance by calling 407-WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687).
The first cut has been made on the Disney World Moms panel. Those not selected have received e-mail thanking them for their interest, providing a couple of links for "virtual stationery" and inviting them to return to the Disney World Moms site when it officially launches in January.
The remaining copies of the Thomas Kinkade painting of Cinderella Castle entitled "A New Day at the Cinderella Castle" are available offered as a giclee on canvas and a giclee on paper at both Art of Disney locations, in Epcot and at Downtown Disney Marketplace.
Added to the lineup for Super Soap Weekend after we went to press last week was Sherri Shepherd of The View, where the backstage goings-on sometimes resemble a soap opera itself.
The Jaguar water slide at Coronado Springs will be closed for refurbishment from November 26 December 14. The Dig Site feature pool and all quiet pools will remain open during the refurbishment.
This week's question: This week's question was submitted by MousePlanet reader Brian Seed. The counterpart of what Audio-Animatronics character located in Epcot became famous in Europe for wearing coonskin caps? Stay tuned to next week's park update for the answer.
The answer to last week's question: "What land in the Magic Kingdom does not have direct bathroom access? Why?", which was submitted by MousePlanet reader Nick Murphy, is:
Liberty Square, because in Colonial America there would not have been bathrooms.
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 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.