Those who have been looking forward to riding the newly-refurbished Spaceship Earth during their Walt Disney World visit this holiday season will be sorely disappointed. The target date for the completion of the reworking of Epcot's icon and signature attraction has been pushed back to Presidents' Week.
So how did a refurbishment suddently get extended by more than three months on the official Walt Disney World calendar less than three weeks before its scheduled November 14 opening? Good question. There are a number of theories about the reason floating about the Internet, but we have not yet gotten confirmation of any of them official or otherwise. We will say, though, that the original press release for the modifications to the attraction noted that "With planned renovations occurring through the year, Spaceship Earth's makeover is scheduled to be fully completed in early 2008." It's quite possible that the Imagineers decided that there was no way to take a clean break between those phases, and that it was better to just work straight through.
But the disappointment of many Disney fans is not the biggest impact of this delay, by far. When the holiday season hits, Jim MacPhee's Epcot park operations team will be really missing this people-eating attraction with its huge 2400-person theoretical hourly ride capacity (THRC).
Instead, the rest of Epcot will have to absorb those extra 2400 people on the walkways. If they're serviceable, look for the Wonders of Life attractions to open up by the weekend following Thanksgiving. Also, look for anything additional MacPhee's team can devise to soak up the folks that would otherwise be riding calmly through the Geosphere.
The entrance to the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is inspired by the film "Ratatouille." Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
We finally know what the new logo will look like when the Disney-MGM Studios magically transforms into Disney's Hollywood Studios on Monday, January 7. Black lettering with gold trim and Mickey Mouse holding a clapboard replace the old blue, black and red logo featuring the MGM lion, as well as Mickey with the clapboard. The logo was released last Thursday. "Mickey still plays a prominent role for us," said Studios vice-president Michael O'Grattan, "and Hollywood now truly is our middle name."
The old Disney-MGM Studios logo and the new Disney's Hollywood Studios logo. Images © Disney.
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!
The Disney Vacation Club has announced the dates for the 2008 S.S. Member Cruise 2008. The four-night cruise will take place September 2125, 2008. It will again feature two stops at Castaway Cay. You can book your trip starting at 9 a.m. EST on Saturday, November 17, 2007 at either the regular DVC Guest Services line (800-800-9800) or at 407-566-3800. DVC advises to stay on the line if you experience extended hold times, as they expect to sell out quickly. The reservation points chart and detailed booking information is available at the DVC Member web site.
The map at the entrance to the Wonders of Life pavilion has been overlaid with the Food & Wine Festival Center layout. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
The marquee in front of the Cranium Command theater has become the backdrop for wine seminars. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
Meanwhile, the "sprucing up" of the pavilion has resulted in the removal of the wonderful Body Wars mural, which contained one of this editor's favorite Hidden Mickeys. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
The in a remote Downtown Disney parking lot back on July 2 has been linked to another that shut down traffic on the Central Florida Greeneway last Wednesday. Tips to the Orange County Sheriff's Office CrimeLine led to the latest bomb and a 21-year-old server at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.
The CrimeLine tip three weeks ago led investigators to 21-year-old Brandon Ryan Woll of St. Cloud, who was arrested on Wednesady after his father and girlfriend led investigators to the explosive device in the westbound lanes of the highway. Traffic was closed for hours while the device was located and rendered safe by the hazardous device unit.
It is believed that the device found last week was discarded following the publicity surrounding the Downtown Disney blast.
Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary stated at a press conference that "we would like to reiterate the fact that this was not a terrorist-related act, and also let the public know that all suspects have been identified." Beary stated that further arrests are likely.
All suspects have reportedly been questioned, resulting in confessions, and they have been advised to report to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
While Woll has been arrested on state charges so far, Beary said that federal indictments are forthcoming. Woll, who had been held on $1,000 bail, bonded out Thursday morning.
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.
Turkish dancers (and one guest) perform in front of a wonderful photo-realistic backdrop. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
The Dominican Republic is one of the featured countries at the Food & Wine Festival. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
This week's listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
The Pearville Fair is a kid-focused area that's part of this year's Food & Wine Festival. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
American Vines: Tastes of Regional Wines is bi-coastal, featuring wines from New York and the Napa Valley. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.
If you're a fan of the Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade at the Disney-MGM Studios (soon to be Disney's Hollywood Studios), make sure to see it one last time by mid-March. The parade's last showing on the official Walt Disney World web site calendar is Sunday, March 9. The park will have no official daytime parade for the following few days while the changeover is made (though "sneak previews" may be possible) and then the Block Party Bash parade starts its official run on Friday, March 14, just in time for the start of the spring peak during the weekend before Easter.
Disney has produced a new video for the U.S. State Department to show at Customs for all arriving international tourists. "Welcome: Portraits of America" features a remixed/rearranged version of the Illuminations soundtrack. The presentation also includes still images to be used as posters, banners, etc. The video and images do not feature or promote Disney or any other commercial entities. It will first appear at Washington Dulles International Airport and Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, and then later in the nation's other international airports.
If you're going to be flying into or out of Orlando International Airport between November 13-15, keep your eyes out for the world's largest passenger airplane. The Airbus A380 will be visiting the airport to test compatibility for the plane. The visiting super-jumbo jet is configured to carry up to 525 passengers in three classes, but in an all-economy class arrangement it can hold more than 800 passengers. If the test is successful the A380 could one day start flying into the airport, as three airlines service Orlando International already have the jet on order.
If any of our readers was lucky enough to attend the "An Evening with The VOICES: Celebrating Twenty-Five Years of the Music of Derric Johnson" event on Saturday night, featuring more than three-quarters of all of those who have ever sung with the Voices of Liberty, please write in and let us know about it!
This week's question: As the Disney-MGM Studios prepares to become Disney's Hollywood Studios, we take a look back and ask if you can name the park's seven original attractions? Stay tuned to next week's park update for the answer.
The answer to last week's question: "The counterpart of what Audio-Animatronics character located in Epcot became famous in Europe for wearing coonskin caps?", which was submitted by MousePlanet reader Brian Seed, is:
Benjamin Franklin. He became the talk of every gathering for showing up at parties wearing one and even had many of them sent over to him to give away during his tenure in Europe, even though he never trapped one and really didn't like the backwoods life! [Note: Brian claims to be a direct decendant of "Grandpa Ben".]
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.