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Update for February 4 – February 10, 2008

Go directly to: News & Views | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions | Park Hours/Park Events/Entertainment Schedule

News and Views

"Dreams Come True" | Seasonal dining surcharges | Off to Never Land | Duncan Wardle | Foreign ambassadors visit | Construction update | Quick Takes …

"Dreams Come True" online sweepstakes launched

Disney Parks & Resorts announced on Friday that a new "Dreams Come True" online sweepstakes would give away five vacations at Disney resorts, with the Grand Prize being a night in the Disneyland Dream Suite.


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The Dream Suite (wonderfully presented in a photo tour by MousePlanet's Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix last Thursday) is now open for business, hosting Year of a Million Dreams prize winners 266 nights in 2008. The suite, designed to appear as close to the way that it was originally intended to be constructed for the Disney family, is the match for Walt Disney World's Cinderella Castle Suite.

The top prize features round-trip air and ground transportation for four to Disneyland, two nights in a Disneyland Resort hotel and one night in the Dream Suite, as well as four-day park hopper passes for the group.

Four first prizes include two trips each to Disneyland and Walt Disney World for four. All trips include round-trip air and ground transportation to the Disney resort awarded. The Disneyland trips include 3 nights at a Disneyland Resort hotel and four-day park hopper passes, while the Walt Disney World trips include 4 nights at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel and five-day park hopper passes.

All trips must be taken between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009 or they will be forfeited with no compensation.

You can enter once each day in February by going to Disney.com/Dreams. Each time you enter, you will win a different digital prize. Each day will provide a different widget, including bobbleheads, snow globes, clocks or calendars.

The story on seasonal dining surcharges

We've been receiving some e-mail asking about dining surcharges during peak seasons, but we didn't want to report on them until we had a response from Walt Disney World. We've finally received that response, so here's the story.

"During certain times of the year, many of our Walt Disney World food and beverage locations experience increased Guest demand," said Disney spokewoman Zoraya Suarez. "As a result, new seasonal pricing has been implemented for select fixed-price dining locations during these periods, specifically during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, spring break, and summer vacation months. In other words, seasonal pricing is not a surcharge, it is the price of the dining experience during certain times of the year."

The dining locations effected by the seasonal price increases are:

These price increases were and are in effect for:

  • November 18 through November 24, 2007
  • December 16, 2007 through January 5, 2008
  • March 16, 2008 through March 29, 2008
  • May 25, 2008 through July 5, 2008

Projecting forward, it's likely that we'll see them again for:

  • November 23 through November 29, 2008
  • December 14, 2008 through January 4, 2009

Again, the seasonal increase is "a result of high demand at select fixed-price dining locations," according to Suarez. So apparently, it's a supply-and-demand thing. Rather than keeping prices steady year-round and just dealing with people who can't get reservations, Disney has elected to see what price the market will bear and take the risk of pricing some people out in order to pull in a little extra cash from food & beverage operations.

The net effect will still have the same number of people mobbing the restaurants to keep them full, but the mix will be shifted from those with the foresight to get their reservations early enough to those either with larger budgets or the Disney Dining Plan who might take a little longer to reserve their table. So be aware, if you're planning to be at the parks during these affected times, you may need to either budget a bit more for food during your trip if you're planning to eat at one of the affected restaurants or plan to sign up for a Disney Dining Plan, which will keep your cost steady regardless of meal cost.

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!

Off to Never Land release event

The next release in the Ink and Paint cel series will take place on March 15 and the Animation Gallery at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Off to Never Land will have a cel release and artist signing event on that day from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. You can purchase the cel, meet the artists, ask them questions and have them sign their work. Artists Costa Alavezos, James Bonserio, Erin Magill, Theodora M. DeLaney, David Rippberger, Lynn Rippberger and Sharon K. Vincent are all expected to be there.

If you can't make it to the release but would like to buy the cel, you can contact Walt Disney Event Services at 407-827-7600, Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Wardle named "Outstanding American Citizen by Choice"

MousePlanet sends our congratulations to Duncan Wardle, vice president, Global & Walt Disney World Public Relations Integration, on being awarded one of four "Outstanding American Citizen by Choice Awards" at the White House on January 15. The award is given to naturalized U.S. citizens who, having arrived as immigrants, have gone on to become U.S. citizens and have made a substantial contribution back to the United States since their arrival, either in the public or private sector.

Wardle first arrived in the U.S. to participate in the cultural representative program as a waiter at the Rose & Crown Pub at Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion. He married a fellow cultural representative from Mexico, then returned to the U.K. to work in the Disney Parks publicity office in London. He moved his family back to Orlando to take on the job of Vice President of International Marketing, later moving to California to become Vice President of Marketing for Disneyland before moving back to Orlando and taking on his current job.

After he became a naturalized U.S. citizen in February 2006 in a nondescript ceremony inside a convention center in Los Angeles, Wardle decided to do something to help people remember their naturalization ceremony forever, and began work on creating the events for which he was given his award. On July 4, 2007, a naturalization ceremony was held for 1,000 immigrants on Main Street U.S.A. in front of Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World. A similar ceremony will be held on July 4, 2008, in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland.

Wardle has impressed this editor with his warm demeanor and helpful, friendly attitude at each meeting. Congratulations!

Foreign ambassadors tour Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World was the first stop for more than 70 foreign ambassadors and their spouses from 45 nations recently at Epcot, as the kick-off event for the U.S. State Department's "Experience America" tour. The tour will host visits to communities and events around the U.S. for members of the Diplomatic Corps based in Washington, DC.

The ambassadors had told the U.S. that they believed that they could learn more about American life by traveling outside of Washington D.C. They were looking to learn more about global trade, corporate governance, security and sustainable energy.

U.S. Chief of Protocal Nancy Brinker, a Florida resident, volunteered to host the first leg of the tour in her home state. Walt Disney World Senior Vice President for Public Affairs Shannon McAleavey and Walt Disney World Ambassadors TC Newman and Kerri MacPherson welcomed the group and shared the history and heritage of Walt Disney.

The ambassadors will tour Cocoa, Cape Canaveral, Palm Beach and Miami on their Florida tour before returning to Washington.

Menus wanted!

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 menus@mouseplanet.com (link). Please note that there is a 5MB limit on total attachments in a single e-mail.

Construction Update

This week's listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:

  • Handrails will be replaced at Building 4 (main building) of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
  • Exterior repairs will be taking place at the Grand Floridian Convention Center.
  • Guest restroom mirrors will be replaced at Stormalong Bay at the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.
  • Framing and drywall will be repaired in the public restrooms in the Contemporary Resort's tower building.
  • Roofs will be replaced at Fort Wilderness at the Loop 1500 bus stop and the Loop 900/1000 comfort station, as well as the Swamp Train Animal Programs storage building.
  • The canopy roof at the Liberty Tree Tavern will be repaired.
  • The playground equipment at the Old Key West Resort's feature pool will be replaced.
  • Network cable will be installed at the Wonders of Life pavilion, likely to help support festival operations.
  • Motor Control Center and panel replacements will take place at Pinocchio Village House, Carousel of Progress, Columbia Harbour House, "it's a small world" and Hall of Presidents.
  • Three chilled water air conditioning air handler units at Spaceship Earth's postshow area will be replaced.
  • Imagineering has filed three permit applications, for a Fantasyland DVC Marquee, a Blizzard Beach Snow Ball Marquee and Demolition of the interior of Soundstage 4 at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Quick takes …

…We've added a new Park Guide page covering the 2008 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. Check it out!

…Disney's Wish Lounge, a place where those children with life-threatening medical conditions who are visiting Walt Disney World through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and other wish-granting organizations can take a break from the park to gather their strength, turned one year old on January 25. As part of the anniversary celebration, The Genie from Disney's Aladdin made a 7-year-old girl from Houston named Alyssa and her family honorary citizens of Walt Disney World for the day, treating them to their own tour guide, a character lunch at Cinderella's Royal Tale and park-hopper tickets for admission to all parks. You can read the story about the Wish Lounge's launch last year here.

…A television commercial for Walt Disney World was recently voted number one in the Top 20 Most-Liked New TV Spots of 2007 by Advertising Age magazine. In addition, it received an Outstanding Achievement Award for a Television Commercial by the Media Access Association, which recognizes those in the entertainment industry for positively portraying people with disabilities. In the commercial, called "Signs," a young African American boy relates his Walt Disney World trip to his deaf grandfather usign sign language, as the adventures come alive around him.

…Recent press releases from Walt Disney World provide information on romantic Valentine's options at the resort, the Disney Planner for May-August, 2008, and the reopening of Spaceship Earth, the contents of which we've reported about here in the past. You can check out the press releases by following the links.

…In a press release about a new Web site, Waste Management, Inc. has provided a look into an upcoming display at Innoventions at Epcot. The "Don't Waste It" display will launch this month as part of the "Think Green" campaign, giving guests "the opportunity to virtually experience the operations on a single-stream recycling line, feed the boiler at a waste-to-energy facility and run the bulldozer at a landfill." Guests will also "have the ability to calculate the amount of garbage they produce in a year and then have the responsibility to dispose of it safely and in ways that enhance the environment."

…The Doubloon Lagoon feature pool at Port Orleans French Quarter Resort is closed for renovations through mid-March. During the closure, resort guests can take a shuttle to Port Orleans Riverside Resort to use the Ole' Man Island pool, as well as using the quiet pools.

Peter Pan's Flight has been added to the refurbishment schedule, while Minnie's Country House has returned to the schedule after being dropped from earlier dates in the year.

Pleasure Island will once again get seasonal makeovers, as the island transforms into Sweetheart Island February 14-16 and goes green for St. Patrick's Day March 14, 15 and 17.


Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.
Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

Coming soon

  • February 5, 9, 14, 22, 26, March 1, 6, 11, 14. Disney's Pirate & Princess Party.
  • February 8-10. National High School Cheerleading Championship.
  • February 15-18. Twirlmania.
  • February 23-24. Cheer & Dance National Championships.
  • February 29-March 2. Cheer & Dance National Championships.
  • February 29 - March 2. ESPN ? The Weekend.
  • February 27 - March 29. Atlanta Braves Training Camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.
  • March 1-2. NDA National Dance Team Championship.
  • March 7-9. UCA National All Star Cheerleading Championship.
  • March 8. National Kidney Foundation 5K.
  • March 14, 15 and 17. Pleasure Island goes green for St. Patrick's Day.
  • March 15. Off to Never Land cel release.
  • March 19 ? June 1. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

Epcot

  • Spaceship Earth – closed for refurbishment February 9–14, 2008. Currently in soft opening status; may close at any time for any (or no) reason.
  • Journey Into Imagination With Figment – closed for refurbishment January 28–February 24. The ImageWorks Kodak "What If" Lab will also be closed during this time.
  • Tutto Italia Ristorante – is now open, but will close in the spring to be completely remodeled, and will reopen in the fall under yet another new name.
  • The Wonders of Life pavilion – has again closed as such, and most likely will only be used as a Festival Center until a new sponsor is found.
  • Nine Dragons – closes April 30 – November 30 for renovations that include the creation of an exhibition kitchen.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Journey Into Narnia: Creating The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – closed for refurbishment and likely conversion to a Prince Caspian theme, January 2 – May 23.
  • Mickey Avenue – closed through spring for installation of the Toy Story Mania attraction and related theming.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known current refurbishments.

Resorts

  • All-Star Sports Resort – All buildings will be renovated between June 2007 and February 2008.
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – Construction of the Kidani Village annex building for the Disney Vacation Club's Animal Kingdom Villas is expected to take until spring 2009. Jambo House construction is now complete.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – Feature pool closed for renovation January 7–mid-September. Temporary "child-sized" slides will be added to the quiet pools in the Jamaica and Barbados Villages while the main pool is closed.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – Doubloon Lagoon feature pool closed for renovations January 28 through mid-March. Resort guests can take a shuttle to Port Orleans Riverside Resort to use the Ole' Man Island pool at during this time, as well as using the quiet pools.

Water Parks

  • Blizzard Beach – closed for annual refurbishment January 6 – March 8.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays.
  • T-Rex Cafe – reportedly opens in Downtown Disney in late 2008.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Hotel Royal Plaza offers discounts to MousePlanet readers

The Royal Plaza in the Walt Disney World Resort, in the Downtown Disney resort area, offers a special deal for MousePlanet readers. Anyone booking their stay through the MousePlanet Web site will receive discounted rates up to 20 percent off on all room types. 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!

Passholder, Florida Resident discounts available through March 6

Annual Passholders and Florida residents can take advantage of discounted room rates from now through March 6. From now through February 13, with the exception of Martin Luther King weekend, passholders and Florida residents can stay at value resorts for as low as $49 per night, moderate resorts for as little as $99 per night, or a deluxe villa resort starting at $149 per night. (All rates in this article do not include tax.) Deluxe resorts are also available. Passholders should use booking code FHJ, while Florida residents should use code FHN.

Rates are a bit higher for stays most Sunday through Thursday nights from February 18 through March 6. Value resorts run $79 per nights, moderates are $139 per night and deluxe villas are $249 per night. Passholders use booking code FIE, Florida residents use code FIU.

Note that the number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa. No group rates or other discounts apply. Adult Annual Passes or proof of Florida residency must be shown at check-in.

In addition, from now through February 29 Florida residents can get a Disney Play 4 Days Pass for $34 off the normal price. The pass gives you four admissions to any of the four Walt Disney World theme parks, one park per day, for $125 plus tax. The pass is valid for six months from first use.

The Disney Play 4 Days Pass is available for purchase by phone at 407-WDW-4DAYS (407-939-4329). They're also available at Walt Disney World theme park ticket windows and Resort hotel locations, Florida AAA offices and Florida Disney Stores. Proof of Florida residency is required.

For ticket prices, park hours, and entertainment schedules, please go here.


Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.



Talk about this article and more, on the MousePad community forums.


(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.