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Walt Disney World News
That fantastic plastic hero, Buzz Lightyear, is finally in space for real after launching aboard Space Shuttle Discovery on Saturday. The 12-inch-tall action figure will visit the International Space Station as part of NASA's "Toys in Space" initiative. Buzz will be used to help introduce fun elements from space into science and math classrooms across the country. At the same time, publicity from the mission will be used to promote the official grand opening of Toy Story Midway Mania at Walt Disney World, which also took place on Saturday.
NASA and Disney first promoted the mission earlier last week with the release of a video showing the dramatic nature of the mission:
As the mission approached, Buzz sought some real-life advice about going into space from another famous Buzz:
As Buzz lifted off, his pal Woody waved goodbye from the viewing area.
Since 2005, Disney's Magical Express has been shuttling passengers between the Orlando International Airport and their Walt Disney World resorts at no charge, with resort check-in and baggage check also available for selected airlines, also for free. The recent decision by many airlines to start charging baggage fees for second suitcases has caused some issues with the system, as it was not designed to handle any financial transactions. The announcement by American Airlines that they will start charging fliers $15 for their first checked bag with tickets purchased beginning June 15 only adds to the problem. [Note: If you already purchased your tickets for your summer trip, you shouldn't be charged, but bring your e-receipt just to make sure.]
Since we first ran the story on Monday, we were able to get the following comment from Disney spokeswoman Kim Prunty: "In partnership with BAGS, we are still working through a permanent solution with the airlines. BAGS has set up a call center to deal directly with guests who have to pay extra fees and will help them navigate through the various policies. Contrary to the Sentinel article, the impact on operations has been minimal. Only 20 percent of the guests who use the service check a second bag and working through operational issues is what we do every day."
We had reported a couple of weeks ago that it was rumored that George Lucas would be making a surprise appearance at Star Wars Weekends in conjunction with a trip to check on the progress of the next version of the Star Tours attraction. In a blog post last Thursday, MousePlanet's Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix found confirmation of the Star Tours 2.0 aspect of the rumor.
A recent report on the Blue Sky Blog hints that Fantasyland will see the addition of a new attraction in the next few years, the first new "E-Ticket" ride at the Magic Kingdom in a very long time. The usually reliable Honor Hunter is reporting that the back part of the park will be receiving an exact duplicate of "The Little Mermaid" attraction currently being designed for Disney's California Adventure.
We're hearing stories of a sewer backup and overflow near the Adventurer's Club on Pleasure Island early last month that caused a lingering odor near the downstairs exit from the club. It has all been taken care by now.
Gay Days will be held this weekend. If you're looking to avoid or join the crowds, here's where they'll be:
An offhand comment buried at the end of a CNET article about the special effects created for the new Indiana Jones film has Disneyland fans clamoring for more information.
The Disneyland version of the Create Your Own Ear Hat program launched earlier this year at Walt Disney World has found a home in Toontown's Gag Factory. The program lets you customize a pair of mouse ears by mixing and matching a base and two snap-on ears, then decorating the finished product with a variety of adhesive fabric decals.
We missed this new discount in last week's Park Update, but several readers alerted us to the oversight. The Disneyland Resort's latest discount is the "Summer Fun Pass," a 3-day park hopper available to Southern California residents for $99 per person ages 3 and older. This represents a savings of up to $70 per ticket over the advance-purchase price of a 3-day Park Hopper. The ticket is valid 45 days after the first use, and first use must take place between June 16 to August 30, 2008. The ticket is not valid on July 4, 2008.
Some Disney bloggers, including Brady McDonald of The Los Angeles Times, question whether the television spots advertising the new Toy Story Midway Mania attraction is misleading.
A major fire that began Sunday morning at Universal Studios Hollywood damaged or destroyed several buildings and sets, including the New York and Main Street sets, the King Kong attraction and the studio's film vault.
The MousePlanet crew is planning a series of social events for readers this summer and fall, and you're invited! Our first gathering will be Saturday, June 28th to catch a matinee screening of Wall-E at the AMC theater in Downtown Disney. Stay tuned for more details once the theater releases the schedule for that weekend.
On July 17, you are invited to come celebrate the 8th anniversary of your favorite Disney Web site (and Disneyland's 53rd birthday). Details are forthcoming, but MouseAdventure fans can look forward to a little treat.
Finally, our second annual MousePlanet night at Mickey's Trick or Treat Party is Friday, October 3. This is one of the annual passholder discount nights, and tickets are already on sale through the AP Web site.
Stay posted for additional details and events throughout the summer.
Due to Grad Night on Wednesday June 11th, the Magic Morning event that would normally take place on Thursday, June 12 has been cancelled. Disneyland will offer an additional Magic Morning event that week the morning of June 11, and guests who hold passes for both Magic Morning and Toontown Morning Madness can attend both.
A handful of retail shops opened at Garden Walk last week, in advance of the official grand opening later this month.
Shoplifters beware—the World of Disney has stepped up security to address a growing "shrink" (theft) problem at the Downtown Disney location.
It looks like an earlier comment about the sun fountain being the first casualty of the planned DCA expansion project may have been premature—the construction walls are down, and the fountain is back in service.
The Disney Book Group announced that they will publish an exclusive behind-the-scenes book from the Jonas Brothers this fall, giving a look backstage at the three brothers.
After being on the outside looking in at all of the comic book-fueled hit movies like the X-Men, Spider-Man and Iron Man, The Walt Disney Studios has planted the seeds for their own future success in that genre by launching Kingdom Comics.
The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) has reached an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new contract, beating the old contract's expiration date by less than a month. The Screen Actors Guild has yet to come to agreement.
The Walt Disney Studios will be making their movies available for download to broadband-connected TiVo digital video recorders directly from the TV.
The Disney Channel has decided to take an unprecedented step in Spain and Italy. On July 1, the channel will adopt an advertiser-supported format and will become available to all viewers via digital terrestrial television
Disney Visa Card holders can be comfortable that their accounts aren't going anywhere, as Disney and Chase have agreed to renew their co-brand card agreement to offer the Disney Rewards Visa Card from Chase.
Disney CEO Bob Iger spoke at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference last week, giving insight into various areas of the company and the industry, from oversaturation of movie markets to the benefits of the integration between Disney's business units to the current and future difficulties of broadcast media. We had a few clips on the show, but to listen to the entire session you'll need to go here by next Wednesday (they only keep these things up for about two weeks).
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MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.