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Update for May 12 – May 18, 2008

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

News and Views

"LIne rage" suit | Toy Story Mania! | Flogos | McDonald's moves out | Surgeon General kudos | Construction update | Quick Takes …

"Line rage" victim sues Disney

Following the conviction and sentencing of Victoria Walker in the "line rage" incident, Aimee Krause—the woman that she beat—filed suit against Disney last Thursday, alleging that its negligence was responsible for her suffering permanent injury.


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The suit claims that the park provided inadequate staff and security at the Mad Tea Part attraction, that staff was not properly trained to recognize security threats, that the park did not respond to requests to remove Walker from the attraction, and that it did not properly investigate the incident when it happened. Krause's husband is also suing for loss of support and companionship in the wake of the incident.

In Walker's trial, the jury issued a special finding noting that Krause only suffered minor injuries in the attack, not the claimed permanent injuries. The judge in the case also noted after the sentencing that he was sure that more went on between the two women on both sides than was revealed at the trial. Add in the fact that two administrators from the school that Krause's children attend came forward during the trial offering to testify that Krause had a history of aggressive behavior—causing Krause to threaten a suit against the school board—though their testimony was denied by the judge, and there appears to be a clear avenue for Disney to respond to the suit. We'll see where this leads.

Toy Story Mania! previews to passholders, press; grand opening May 31


The plans taped to a window just inside the Pixar gate explain some of the theming. Photo by Brian Warneke.

The Passholder/DVC Member previews of Toy Story Mania! (yes, yet another attraction with an exclamation point) over the weekend have been a big hit, with the guests responding very positively to the attraction. Next up is the press preview on Wednesday. The attraction, barring surprises, is expected to go into soft opening mode until the official grand opening on May 31.


The "recon position" is still under construction. Photo by Brian Warneke.

The five-minute ride gives guests a full 30 seconds in each game play area, and each area sports at least one "easter egg" target that will trigger bonus targets or other changes. For those in wheelchairs or ECVs, there is a special load/unload area away from the main loading area to provide as much time as necessary in transferring into the ride vehicle without stopping the rest of the attraction.


The "secret message decoder" is also above a walled-off area. Photo by Brian Warneke.

We'll have more coverage in the near future. In the meantime, MousePlanet reader Brian Warneke provides a look at the theming of the new "Pixar Place" area and the attraction's queue.


Despite the fact that Walt Disney World is promoting the attraction as "Toy Story Mania!" the marquee above the entrance sure makes it look like "Toy Story Midway Mania!" Photo by Brian Warneke.


The first room of the queue is themed to the old Candy Land game. Photo by Brian Warneke.


Toys scattered throughout the queue include this Disneyland Viewmaster reel (with the correct photos in the slides). Photo by Brian Warneke.


Toys from Woody's Roundup, a crayon and a "balsa wood" flyer also appear in the queue. Photo by Brian Warneke.


Boxes and toys from Andy's room fill the second queue room. Photo by Brian Warneke.


The much-reported-on Mr. Potato Head barker figure is near a familiar-looking ball. Photo by Brian Warneke.

[May 13 Publisher's note: We originally published two photos in this piece that we have since learned were from the Disneyland version. We have removed those photos from this piece.]

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!

What do you see in that cloud?

A new technology may have Mickey-head logos flying all over the place at Walt Disney World. A new technology created by Francisco Guerra of SnowMasters Special Effects Inc.—a special-effects company specializing in snow, foam, fog, bubble, and scent machines in Lexington, Alabama—will create artificial "clouds" of bubbles that last for as long as half an hour before evaporating (though they can also be mixed to dissolve more quickly. The "Flogos" machine (for "flying logos") creates a special mass of foam bubbles filled with air and helium that are pushed through a stencil and then cut by a metal blade when a certain thickness is reached. You can see a test of the Mickey-head logo in a video on the company's site (link). Machines can make logos of 2-, 3- and 4-foot diameters.

According to an Associated Press article (link), Walt Disney World plans to test the device at the Magic Kingdom next month. While the machines cost $3,500 per day to rent, it may prove to be a solid investment. Disney used to release birds at the conclusion of shows in front of the castle each day until the local birds of prey caught on and the birds started becoming a snack and a visceral demonstration of the circle of life. Flogo machines could provide a similarly spectacular way to end a show with no ill effects.


The Three Caballeros topiaries hang out near the bridge between World Showcase and the Odyssey restaurant.. Photo by Brian Warneke.


Scar and Zazu are located near the Outpost. Photo by Brian Warneke.

McDonald's moving out of Restaurantasaurus

According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel (link), McDonald's french fries and Chicken McNuggets are out at Restaurantasaurus, being replaced with Disney's own fries and chicken nuggets. The McDonald's offerings won't be disappearing entirely though, as they will continue to be available at Petrifries and other locations. Restaurantasaurus has also introduced a new dessert menu and a new children's menu.

This is likely just another step in Disney's move toward offering healthier foods in the parks; however, it may also signal a next step in the dissolution of the relationship between the two giant corporations, following the 2006 decision by Disney not to renew its promotional partnership with the fast food chain at the expiration of itsprior 10-year deal. As Disney continues its healthy foods initiative, where will McDonald's fries fit in? Will the fry wagons eventually disappear from the Magic Kingdom? Or is this just a case of Disney wanting to take the revenues from the restaurant for itself and shunt McDonald's off to smaller in-park venues only? We'll have to wait and see.


A topiary celebrating the Year of the Rat sits in front of the China pavilion. Photo by Brian Warneke.


Children play at the Dupont "Outdoor Living" display, featuring rubber chips and fake grass. Photo by Brian Warneke.


Jasmine Green is just one of the varieties of tea in the Twinings Tea Garden. Photo by Brian Warneke.

Surgeon General applauds Disney's healthy foods initiative

Acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Adm. Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., presented The Walt Disney Company with the “Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future” Champion Award at Walt Disney World last Tuesday in recognition of Disney’s well-balanced food initiative (rumored to be prompted by Disney CEO Bob Iger's concern over the impression that the poor kids' food choices available in the parks were making on his own children). The initiative, announced on October 16, 2006, caps calories on kid-sized portions, reduces total, saturated and trans fats in all foods, trims added sugar, and cuts the number of nonconforming special-occasion sweets.

The "Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future" initiative promotes programs throughout the U.S. that are focused on helping kids stay active, encouraging healthy eating habits, and promoting healthy choices, thereby helping to prevent childhood overweight and obesity issues.

Other divisions of Disney have participated as well, including the launching of a healthy snack licensing business theough Disney Consumer Products and the Disney Channel's "Pass the Plate" series of interstitials that focuses on making healthier choices.

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

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom – repainting of facade tents on the Small World canopy roof.
  • Magic Kingdom – removing and reinstalling the wood walkway deck at Frontierland
  • Magic Kingdom – Removing and reinstalling the Veranda Deck at Aunt Polly's
  • Magic Kingdom – Rehab of storage space at Splash Mountain
  • Magic Kingdom – Installing an ice machine at Cinderella's Royal Table
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – replacing roof panels on existing canopy at Catastrophe Canyon
  • Contemporary Resort – facility alterations to support the construction of a new coffee counter in the lobby
  • Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – repairing concrete floor and ceiling and repaint interior walls at Stormalong Bay Pool Equipment Room
  • Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – putting copper caps on all lakeside pilings
  • Yacht Club Resort – repairing damaged walk and designated flooring in the Yacht Club Galley Kitchen


Construction walls at the International Gateway and the Italy pavilion are likely related to the "Imagineering – Epcot World Showcase Interactive Distribution Cart Install (Norway, Italy, International Gateway)" item listed in last week's Construction Update. Can we be getting close to seeing the Kim Possible interactive adventure go live? Photos by Brian Warneke.

Quick takes …

…The Narnia walk-through at Disney's Hollywood Studios reopens Friday, the same day that the new Narnia movie opens in theaters. Journey into Narnia: Prince Caspian will feature a meet-and-greet with a theme-park edition of Prince Caspian (not Ben Barnes), behind-the-scenes footage, blueprints, original costumes and props from the movie and a walk-through of a reproduced set from the movie. This time, the set is Aslan's Stone Table Chamber, recreated directly from the original molds.

…There's a new page on the Walt Disney World Web site to help build anticipation for Star Wars Weekend (link). It will allow you to test your Jedi or Sith skills and then give you several choices. Electing to continue your training will give you access to a map of the events at Star Wars Weekend, a series of printable mini-posters, and a "bounty hunter's guide" to the weekends (which includes character photos to help you to identify the various characters who will be around. Now that Pixar Place has reopened, guests once again have access to Soundstage 1—which will again serve as Wicket's Warehouse, the merchandise center for the event.

…Just in time for Mother's Day, a Sable Antelope and her new calf made their first appearance on the savannah together at Disney's Animal Kingdom last Wednesday.

…Walt Disney World honored another class of Dreamers and Doers last Thursday, as 100 finalists, including the three Shining Star winners, were feted at the resort. The program, designed to recognize outstanding students making a difference through volunteer service in Central Florida, celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. 400 students were nominated by their schools, and were then narrowed down to 100 finalists, including the winners in the elementary, middle and high school categories, by a panel than included community leaders and cast members. All nominees received four theme park tickets, a certificate and a special pin. Finalists also received a medallion, and the Shining Star Award recipients also got a Mickey Mouse statue and Walt Disney World annual passes for themselves and their immediate families.

…The Major League Baseball draft will be held at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex for the second year, taking place on June 5. It will be televised on ESPN2. The Tampa Bay Rays, who are 6-0 in regular season games at Champion Stadium at the complex, hope to continue their luck there as they have the first pick in this year's draft.

…In a departure from usual procedure, Disney has not yet announced which water park will be closing first for refurbishment this fall.


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

  • March 19 to June 1. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. [See our Park Guide Page.]
  • May 16, 21, 26, 31, June 4. Mickey's Pirate & Princess Party.
  • May 16–18. Teddy Bear and Doll Weekend.
  • May 18. Florida Half Ironman 70.3.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

Epcot

  • Illuminations – the LED globe is scheduled to be removed from the show for a major refurbishment, possibly in early summer. The length of the refurbishment is not known. The show was tested without the globe on February 27.
  • 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 May 29 – 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 conversion to a Prince Caspian theme, January 2 – May 15.
  • Mickey Avenue – has mostly reopened, though a few construction walls remain..
  • American Idol – under construction in the soundstage that formerly hosted Superstar Television and Doug Live!. Scheduled to open "winter 2008."

Animal Kingdom

  • No known current refurbishments.

Resorts

  • 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.

Water Parks

  • No known current refurbishments.

Elsewhere

  • Cap'n Jack's Restaurant – closed for refurbishment May 12–17.
  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays.
  • T-Rex Cafe – reportedly opens in Downtown Disney in late 2008.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Orlando Fun Tickets offering 5 days for the price of 3

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!

Passholder discounts announced, Disney Dining Plan available

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 for late summer

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:

  • CMK – Magic Your Way Package plus Dining
  • CMM – Magic Your Way Package plus Wine & Dine
  • CMP – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining
  • CMS – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining with Wine & Dine

Booking codes for the general public are:

  • AYG – Magic Your Way Package plus Dining
  • AYH – Magic Your Way Package plus Wine & Dine
  • AYI – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining
  • AYJ – Magic Your Way Package plus Deluxe Dining with Wine & Dine

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.

 



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(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.