The lawsuit filed last November by three individuals from the Midwest claiming discrimination by Walt Disney World under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because Disney would not allow them to use their personal Segway vehicles in the theme parks has been dismissed.
Disney contended that the two plaintiffs from Illinois and one from Iowa, all unrelated, had no standing to bring the suit, as they had no intention to visit Walt Disney World in the near future. U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell agreed, and dismissed the suit. The three had been asking for class-action status for the lawsuit.
Disney's concerns are rooted in the fact that there is no way to ensure how well-trained each Segway operator may be, how well they can handle their scooter in the crowded, unpredictable environment of a theme park, and the fact that privately owned Segways can travel 12.5 miles per hour, as opposed to the roughly 5 miles per hour that Disney has throttled their editions down to. Disney's claim is that, since they allow those who can't walk to switch to wheelchairs or ECVs, they are not violating the ADA.
Annual Passholder and Florida Resident discounts have been announced for March through May. From March 30 through May 21, room-only discount rates are available, with Passholder rates being anywhere from $5 to $15 less than Florida resident rates. Passholders should use code FJC or FJD for Sunday-Thursday nights, while Florida residents should use FJK. The Passholder weekend rate code during that period is FJG.
In addition, the Disney Dining Plan will now be available to Annual Passholders, even on room-only reservations. To add the Dining Plan during the March 30 through May 21 AP discount period, Passholders should use code ANA, and the Deluxe Dining Plan requires code ANC. For other dates that do not have an effective Passholder discount, reservations for the Dining Plan should use code ADS and for the Deluxe Dining Plan should use code ADU.
As reported before, Magic Your Way package reservations for stays most Sunday-Thursday nights between March 30 and May 21 will get free upgrades on their base Magic Your Way tickets to include Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More options. Codes are available for Magic Your Way packages with no dining (APV), basic Dining Plan (APF) and Deluxe Dining Plan (APH).
Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations for the info.
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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 extended run of the Pirate & Princess Parties (now called "Mickey's Pirate & Princess Party") have now finally appeared on the Walt Disney World Web site. The remainder of the run of the party is now scheduled for February 26, March 1, 6, 11, 14, April 1, 4, 6, 11, 16, 23, May 2, 9, 16, 21, 26, 31, and June 4.
Pricing for events through March 14 are $45.95 (adults ages 10 and up) and $39.95 (children ages 3-9). Parties for nights starting April 1 are $47.95 for adults and $41.95 for children. However, discounts are available. By purchasing in advance, tickets are $43.95 for adults and $37.95 for children. Passholders purchasing in advance can get tickets for $39.95 for adults and $33.95 for children. All of the above prices do not include 6.5 percent tax.
Six-year-old Lily Boldman of Orlando, FL, gets her "glamour shot" at the conclusion of her Disney's Secret Star Makeover at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Downtown Disney. The new Boutique package became available yesterday, and includes everything a rock star wannabe would need, including a Hannah Montana wig, microphone headset, Hannah Montana guitar purse, their choice of T-shirt, a backstage pass/make-up kit and a commemorative photo. The package will set you back $109.95. If you want to spend more, the full Hannah Montana costume including jacket and pants is available. Reservations are available by calling 407/WDW-STYLE (939-7895). Photo © Disney, by Garth Vaughan.
The Disney's Magical Express bus service (DME) is growing so quickly that it's going to start causing Disney some financial headaches very soon, according to an article in the Orlando Sentinel last Thursday.
With 2.1 million passengers carried from the airport in 2007, DME is approaching a contractual point where Orlando International Airport has the right to force Disney to open a second customer check-in location. (That provision kicks in when the service carries over 2.2 million passengers in any rolling 12-month period.) When that happens later this year, Disney is likely to break up its theme park and cruise line operations to opposite ends of the main terminal, with separate counter and queue space at each location.
But the increase in the rental costs at the airport (currently $1.3 million) isn't the only issue. The service needs to get at least 65 percent of DME passengers to use the remote check-in service at the resorts by June in order to keep the per-passenger cost down. The cost, currently 75 cents per rider, will be capped at no more than $1.25 per rider if Disney meets the check-in goal. If they don't, the cap goes away. The per capita fees cost Disney another $1.6 million in 2007.
The big problem with remote check-in is that Disney has not yet been able to strike an agreement with Southwest Airlines, which carries more than 20 percent of all passengers traveling through Orlando International. It was hoped that the two sides would have a deal by early this year; however, the airline is concerned that the remote check-in contractor, BAGS, Inc., would be unable to handle the volume of baggage involved with Southwest's passengers. The two sides are working together and hope to have an agreement soon. Of course, with all of the reported problems with remote check-in for US Airways recently, it may be difficult to resolve the outstanding issues.
As if that weren't enough, the National Limousine Association, which represents the services hardest-hit by DME, is considering filing an anti-trust suit against Disney. During September, DME transported nearly 15 percent of all incoming passengers. The limousine group accuses Disney of advertising the service as "free" when the actual costs are actually built into the costs of each hotel room. While such a lawsuit would not have much of a chance of succeeding, it could take up substantial effort and money to defend against.
Disney's Magical Express will seem like even more of a bargain in the near future, as the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority's board voted last Wednesday to pass along more costs to visitor through a "customer facility charge." In order to pay for upgrades to the rental car areas, including expanding the existing "Quick Turn Around" (QTA) facilities and the construction of more QTA facilities, the authority decided to pass the cost along in the form of the new charge, at the rate of $2.50 per day with a maximum fee of $12.50.
While the authority claims that they will end the fee once the construction costs have been covered, that will still take five to seven years, no real comfort to those who will have to pay the fee starting in a few months. The $102.6 million in costs will cover the fueling stations and car wash bays in the QTAs, as well as relocating the existing bus and taxi hold areas in order to make room for the additional QTA facilities, improving the Terminal B exit ramp configuration and improving the rental car return ramps in both terminals.
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.
On April 27, I'll be walking to raise money for the March of Dimes again. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Last year, through the generosity of friends, family, co-workers and MousePlanet readers, we managed to raise $4,025. This year, let's beat that. Let's see if we can raise $5,000. I think we can. For more information, or to donate, go here.
The Earffel Tower, the original icon of the Studios theme park, gets a new paint job to transform from the old Disney-MGM Studios logo to the new Disney's Hollywood Studios logo. Photo © Disney, by Garth Vaughan.
This week's listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last two weeks:
With the departure of former Studios VP Michael O'Grattan for the post of VP of Operations for the Disneyland Resort, Rilous Carter has been apopinted as the new Vice President for Disney's Hollywood Studios. Carter was most recently General Manager of Food & Beverage at Epcot. O'Grattan started his Disney career at Disneyland in 1972, while Carter started at Disney in 1997.
Walt Disney World is testing the use of room keys as verification for Evening Extra Magic Hours rather than wristbands, as some enterprising souls were finding ways to cheat the system.
For the sixth year in a row, Aquascape, Inc. will create water gardens of the future as part of the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. This year Aquascape and its subcontractors will construct six water features. Displays will include a rainwater harvesting system, an 11' x 16' ecosystem pond, decorative fountains, and an indoor feature located in the Garden Festival Center at the Wonders of Life pavilion. The planned water displays are aligned with Disney's mission of sustainability and environmentally friendly initiatives.
The numbers are in, and the various organizations running the 2008 Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon for charity raised an estimated combined total of more than $7.6 million, a new record. The biggest total, $5.6 million, was raised by Team in Training for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The AT Children?s Project raised $900,000 to cure a rare childhood disease, and another $1 million was raised for 17 other charities.
Hoping to avoid additional attention regarding the steroid use charges lodged against him (as well as probing questions from guests in attendance), Roger Clemens has stepped down as co-host of next weekend's ESPN The Weekend festivities at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Co-host Donovan McNabb will now be the sole host for the weekend. In a statement, Clemens said, "I had been looking forward to ESPN The Weekend. Given some strong feelings in some circles today, I believe my current participation could be a distraction. The event should be an occasion for fun by all and I want that to be the case for everyone involved. So I will not be coming at this point in time, but I look forward to participating in some future event."
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hold their training camp at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex for seventh year in a row. While dates have not yet been announced, it's likely that they Bucs will be in town for practices July 25 through August 14, arriving the day before practices start. Expect the Celebration Hotel to be booked up for those dates, as the team takes over the hotel as their headquarters and fills every room during those three weeks.
The Velcro & Waste Management exhiibits at Innoventions are both now open.
While Spaceship Earth is now officially reopened, don't be surprised to see Imagineers continuing to tweak and fine-tune the attraction now that it's under a regular, heavy load.
The Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station is once again open, and is expected to continue operation through August before closing down again after the seasonal rush.
One side of the Jaguar slide at the Coronado Springs Resort's main feature pool will be closed for rehab March 31 ? April 30. The pool will remain open during the work.
For a limited time, MousePlanet discount ticket partner Orlando Fun Tickets is currently offering a free upgrade to a 5-day Park Hopper pass when you purchase a 3-day Park Hopper. Check out the special offer or any of the other great prices on tickets at OrlandoFunTickets.com!
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.
(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.