An armored truck was robbed early Tuesday morning at the Grand Floridian Resort while making a delivery, though authorities say that it was an inside job.
Three employees of Garda Security Corp. were returning to their truck after making a delivery at the Grand Floridian when they noticed that one of the doors was open and an undisclosed amount of money was missing. After an investigation by the Orange County Sheriff's Office, 24-year-old Garda employee Johnnie Bernard Leonard, Jr. was arrested for conspiring with two friends to steal the money. Authorities determined that the other two Garda employees were not involved.
Deputies later arrested the other two conspirators, Sondra Tarrell Farmer (24), and Latosha Denise Black (24). Authorities say that Leonard arranged with Farmer and Black for them to steal the money while he and the other Garda employees were making the delivery inside the Grand Floridian.
The three were arrested on charges of burglary and first-degree grand theft of more than $100,000. Garda and Crimeline are offering rewards of $10,000 and $1,000, respectively, for information resulting in the return of the missing money, which has not yet been recovered.
Planet Hollywood in Downtown Disney was evacuated around 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon as a 21-year-old former employee made a bomb threat. 21-year-old Jason Davis returned to the restaurant, asking to get his job back. After managers refused, he reportedly threw his backpack on the ground between the gift shop and a stairwell and said, "I hope it is a bomb because this earth deserves to die today."
Although Davis tried to take back the comment, the restaurant and the area were evacuated and the backpack was removed by sheriff's deputies and detonated. Afterward, it was determined that the bag only contained Davis' personal effects. Davis was arrested on a charge of making a bomb threat and was taken to the Orange County Jail. He was later quoted as telling local TV station WKMG, "I scared a lot of people but I think I did it for the better good. I think I'm the devil. I have a mindset as a devil but I mean I'm a good guy trying to make the world a better place."
Planet Hollywood reopened at around 7 p.m. that evening. Davis was being held without bond on charges of false reporting/placing of a bomb.
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You've run the Goofy during the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, Raced for the Taste, faced the Tower of Terror 13K and the Expedition Everest Challenge, and even run the world at the Minnie Marathon Weekend. What's next?
Well, the folks over at the Disney Endurance Series keep coming up with new races for you, so next March you can race with royalty at the inaugural Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend. This new woman-centric race weekend is scheduled for March 6-8, 2009, and will include a half-marathon on Sunday, as well as a family fun 5K and kids' races on Saturday. The race expo will be held at the Jostens Center at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex, which is scheduled to open this summer.
With the tag line, "Every woman is a princess, which princess are you?" the race weekend focuses on women's fitness, including a health and wellness expo entitled "Disney’s Fit For A Princess Expo" that is tailored for women. "Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend is a wonderful opportunity for women and girls of all ages," said Kathleen Duran, sports area manager for Disney’s Wide World of Sports. "Disney princesses have attributes that all women want to possess: courage, loyalty, strength, commitment and perseverance. We feel this weekend is an opportunity to recognize those attributes within each woman and celebrate their accomplishments."
More than 10,000 runners are expected to participate, making it one of the largest road races in the U.S. geared toward women. The half marathon will start near the Magic Kingdom, at the Walt Disney World Speedway. After a lap around that track, runners will race to and through Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios and Epcot. A post-race celebration will be held at the Magic Kingdom during Mickey's Pirate and Princess Party. (Note that this confirms that Mickey's Pirate and Princess Party will return in 2009!)
The entry fee for the Disney's Princess Half Marathon is $120 per person. There will apparently be a team competition as well, as two-person team entries (in the divisions of mother/daughter, sister/sister and open) cost a $10 team fee on top of the individual registrations. Half marathon fees include:
The $40 entry fee for the Disney's Princess Family 5K gets you:
Kids can enter the Disney's Princess Kids' Races (with age-appropriate distances) for $10, which gets you the same items as the adult entry fee, sans the goody bag.
Registration for the event is now open (link).
Mickey and Minnie Mouse greet visitors to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, showing off this year's theme, "Fun in the Sun." Photo by Chris Salata.
Behind Mickey and Minnie, Goofy rides a huge wave on a floral surfboard. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.
Disney has released a whole bunch of information regarding the special events for this fall and holiday season. We'll touch briefly on everything, but there'll be more information coming in our park guide and in later park updates.
The first special events kick off Labor Day weekend, as Walt Disney World debuts Disney's Royal Quinceañera Weekend (link), its entry into the market for celebrations surrounding the Hispanic coming-of-age ceremony, August 29 through September 5. The "weekend" includes parties at Epcot and private viewings of Illuminations. Disney is promoting 3-, 4- and 5-night packages at the Coronado Springs Resort in conjunction with the event.
Now it its 26th year, the Night of Joy (link) moves from the Magic Kingdom to Disney's Hollywood Studios this year. The hard-ticketed event will be held September 5-6 from 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., after park hours. Tickets are on sale now.
The move of venue for the Night of Joy opens up the Magic Kingdom for the earliest-ever start to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (link). The party will be held on an unprecedented 25 nights this year. The annual event runs from 7 p.m. to midnight, after park hours, on September 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 28, 30 and October 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 13, 16, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 31. Tickets cost $49.95 (ages 3-9) and $55.95 (ages 10+), with a $7 discount available for all nights except September 19, 26 and October 3, 10, 16, 23, 24, 26, 30 and 31. Further discounts are available for Disney Vacation Club members and Annual Passholders. Tickets are on sale now.
Kicking off later in the month, the 13th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (link) runs September 26–November 9. With small portions of food, wine and beer available from international kiosks around World Showcase, there's something for everyone. This year's theme is "Cities in Wonderland" and includes specialties from Lyon, France; Bologna, Italy; Cape Town, South Africa and Cork, Ireland. Of course, there are also the many seminars and special dining experiences, for which reservations will open up over the summer. The East to the Beat concert series (see below for the list of acts) will feature all sorts of music over the six and a half weeks of the festival.
Come November, the Children's Miracle Network Classic (link) brings big-name golfers to the resort for the final official money event of the year, with jockeying for position in the final standings for 2008 at stake.
That same weekend, the Festival of the Masters (link) brings more than 150 award-winning artists to Downtown Disney West Side November 7-9 for the 33rd annual event. From 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. each day, you can chat with the artists and let your budding young artists take part in events throughout the day.
As that weekend ends (along with the Food & Wine Festival), it's time for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (link) to kick off. This year's party will be held on 18 nights after park closing in the Magic Kingdom, from 7 p.m. to midnight. Entertainment appears to be the same as last year, including the free cookies and cocoa. The event will take place November 10, 11, 14, 16, 20, 21, 30 and December 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 19. The annual Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party meet at MouseFest is expected to take place on December 11. Tickets cost $49.95 (ages 3-9) and $55.95 (ages 10+), with a $7 discount available for all nights except November 14, 21 and December 4, 5, 11, 12, 14, 18 and 19. Further discounts are available for Disney Vacation Club members and Annual Passholders. Tickets are on sale now.
Super Soap Weekend (link) returns November 15-16, bringing soap opera stars to Disney's Hollywood Studios for the 13th year. A list of attendees hasn't been released yet, but look for a healthy contingent of stars from the ABC soaps All My Children, One Life to Life, and General Hospital. It is all about synergy, after all. Events include meet-and-greets, motorcades, live talk shows and more.
Thanksgiving Weekend, the Old Spice Classic (link) brings eight teams to an invitational tournament at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. Hosted by Disney, ESPN and the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC), this year's tournament features Gonzaga, Maryland, Memphis, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Siena (the MAAC representative), Tennessee and Wichita State. Five of the teams appeared in the NCAA tournament and two others played in the National Invitational Tournament.
Other fun during the holiday season includes the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios; Holidays Around the World, featuring the Candlelight Processional, at Epcot November 28 through December 30; Castle Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom; Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade at Disney's Animal Kingdom; Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney Marketplace; and festive decorations and music around all of the Walt Disney World Resort.
Children enjoy Pluto's Play Zone, near the butterfly garden. Photo by Brian Warneke.
Guests look over the Dynamite Vegetable Garden behind Future World West. Photo by Brian Warneke.
Peter Pan's Neverland Garden fills the festival area near the Rose Walk. Photo by Brian Warneke.
Captain Hook watches for children in Pan's Neverland Garden, not noticing the nearby crocodile. Photo by Brian Warneke.
We've now got the full schedule of "Sounds Like Summer" concert series acts:
After Sounds Like Summer is done, the America Gardens Theater has about a month and a half without a regular tenant until the Eat to the Beat concert series begins with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in late September. We've got almost the entire schedule for those shows, as well.
Thanks to Steve Soares' Walt Disney World Live Entertainment site (link) for some of the acts and dates.
Help us keep our menu listings up to date!
Did you know that MousePlanet now has menu listings (link) for all theme park restaurants at Walt Disney World and many resort restaurants? You can help us keep them up to date! Send your photos, scans or other copies of restaurant menus (no fair copying from other Web sites) to email@example.com (link). Please note that there is a 5 MB limit on total attachments in a single email.
Work on the Kidani Village annex for the Animal Kingdom Villas is moving right along. Photo by Chris Salata.
The exterior of the building closest to the main Jambo House building is nearly complete. Photo by Chris Salata.
The next building's exterior is moving along, as well. Photo by Chris Salata.
Construction worker continue vertical construction on the buildings furthest from Jambo House. Disney is likely hoping that those trees grow quickly to help hide the non-Disney resorts just past the edge of Walt Disney World property.. Photo by Chris Salata.
This week's listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
Donald and Daisy Duck play volleyball in the middle of World Showcase Plaza. Photo by Brian Warneke.
To the east of the Ducks, Pluto hopes for a loose volleyball. Photo by Brian Warneke.
To the west of the Ducks, a pair of cockatoos looks on intently. Photo by Brian Warneke.
…We've gotten word that Disney Vacation Club members will be included in this coming weekend's Toy Story Mania annual passholder preview. DVC members (plus up to 3 guests) can join APs May 10-12 in trying out the new attraction. Thanks to DVCNews.com (link) for the info!
…Congratulations to the winners at this year's Minnie Marathon Weekend. The Women Run the World 15K was won by Heather King of Orlando yesterday, winning by nearly two minutes over second-place Cheryl Edwards of Avon, Connecticut. Edwards also finished third in the Go Red for Women 5K, nearly one minute behind winner Sonja Friend-Uhl of West Palm Beach. Friend-Uhl was the second-place finisher in this year's Walt Disney World Marathon.
…The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have officially released the dates for this summer's training camp (link) at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. The Bucs will be holding practices from July 25 through August 13. The team is again expected to be taking over the Celebration Hotel as their lodgings during that time.
…We've heard that Figment's Place has been discontinued as part of the work at the Imagination pavilion. It's not certain if that means the end of the larger-than-life walkaround Figment character (dubbed Fig-zilla by some).
…The NFFC will be holding its third annual Florida Convention at the Regal Sun Resort in the Downtown Disney Resort Area from October 3 through October 5 this year. For more information, check out the NFFC World Chapter Web site (link).
…The Florida Senate has approved Florida Governor Charlie Crist's nomination of Disney senior vice president for conservation and envorinmental sustainability Jerry Montgomery to the board of the South Florida Water Management District, which oversees environmental regulations in South and Central Florida, including Walt Disney World.
…Walt Disney World president Meg Crofton has been inducted into the Florida State University College of Business Hall of Fame. Crofton got her Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration from Florida State in 1974 and 1975, respectively. She was one of three inductees this year.
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 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.
Free dining plans are available for Disney Visa cardholders and the general public. The plans are the same; the only difference was the start date for booking the package. The packages are good for most nights August 24 through September 20, and must be booked by June 22. Packages may be booked for a minimum of three nights and a maximum of 14 nights. Availability is limited and certain restrictions apply.
Existing reservations may be modified to include the free dining package if available. The deal is not only for a free standard dining plan, though. You can upgrade to the Deluxe Dining Plan and/or the Wine & Dine option and get a credit equal to the cost of the standard dining plan ($37.99 for ages 10 and up, $9.99 for ages 3-9) off of the enhanced plan.
For the Disney Visa package (reservation deposit must be made with a Disney Visa card), use the following codes:
Booking codes for the general public are:
(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.