Don't have time to go to Walt Disney World but need that park fix? Now you can go to the parks without leaving your house. Disney and Google have teamed up to present Walt Disney World in 3-D on Google Earth.
You can "walk" through stunningly realistic re-creations of the Disney parks and resorts, and click on handy links to get more information, see attraction videos and more.
Go to Walt Disney World in 3D (link) to download the required version 4.3 of Google Earth. After installing the software and starting it up, search for "Disney World,",click the gold mouse ears, click "Show Disney World in 3D" and you're in!
On that download page, you'll get some instruction from Professor Ludwig von Drake and see some sample images from the program.
For native Disneylanders and other first-timers who don't really comprehend the size and scope of the parks and the property as a whole, it's a good way to get a better grip on the immensity of all that is Walt Disney World. It'll also give a great way to get a better feel for what the resorts actually look like when you're trying to decide where to stay.
"You know the phrase 'next best thing to being there'? Walt Disney World Resort in 3D is going to deliver on that," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "Guests and travel planners can now explore our world with just a few clicks of a mouse, and they can book vacations while being immersed in what the destination has to offer."
And that's part of the point. By giving yet another way to bring people to a place where they can book their trip, Disney is hoping to continue to keep their bookings high despite the recession and the high price of gas and airplane tickets.
To create the imagery, eight photographers took 100,000 photos over the course of 10 days to shoot all the visible surfaces of Walt Disney World, including every building façade. Those photos were used to generate around 1,500 3D models that make up the virtual World.
Now, if only they can work on turning it into 4D, so that we can smell the churros.…
Following our story on the effect of the airline baggage fees on the remote airline check-in portion of the Disney's Magical Express (DME) service, we checked with Walt Disney World spokeswoman Kim Prunty, who told MousePlanet: "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."
It's unknown at this point what percentage of guests that are confronted with the need to pay for an additional piece of luggage are electing to take it to the airport themselves and pay for it there, as Disney is not tracking that statistic.
Prunty said that Disney is still early in working through the potential solutions to address the situation on a long-term basis, and they don't have anything to share right now.
Disney is ramping up to communicate information regarding the handling of the additional baggage fees to everyone using DME, but remember that you'll be working out payment with BAGS, Inc., who is the contractor handling the back-end of the services. If you meet any of the various criteria that would mean that you are exempt from the baggage fees, BAGS will take care of giving you clearance to check your bags without paying the fee.
On a separate, but related matter, Disney had no updates on the status of signing up Southwest for remote check-in.
If you've run into any issues with baggage fees or delays due to people paying the fees while using the remote check-in service, please let us know!
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!
With domestic airlines carrying 35 percent of all Walt Disney World guests to the resort, will a cutback in flights drop park attendance, room nights and ancillary sales, resulting in a drop in income for the parks? Will that result in a reduction in park hours, entertainment and available resort rooms?
Analyst Rich Greenfield of Pali Capital Research notes that American, Continental, Delta and Northwest airlines will all be cutting flights to Orlando, resulting in an 8.4 percent reduction in passenger seats arriving in the area. Add in the effects of higher gas prices reducing car travel to the resort, and we could be facing some reductions. During the last major recession, Disney took advantage of the fact to close entire moderate resorts for refurbishment. If the trend continues, don't be surprised to see that again.
Greenfield noted in an email that it sounds like summer will continue to hold up, but October and November are looking weaker vs. last year.
The new hybrid car for the Tomorrowland Speedway is finally just about "track ready" after getting some more bugs worked out. Cast members are getting trained on it this week, and it may hit the track a bit later this month.
Some of the cast members still feel that there are some concerns with the car, as there is no outside pedal on the hybrid like the regular cars. If the car should happen to have a mechanical breakdown out on the track, they will need to call the maintenance staff to come a haul it off the track, because they can't have another car push it from behind (it has electric brakes, which cannot be released by cast, only by maintenance).
While there are still some issues with it (including the fact that it's very slow when running on the electric motors and batteries), but they want to get it out on track in the next couple of weeks to see how it performs in regular usage.
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.
This week's listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…The Classic Concoctions lounge at Disney's Pop Century Resort, home of the MouseStation Podcast Hustle-tini Meet at MouseFest, has closed, to be turned into an expanded package pickup area. Don't worry, though. The Bluetini portion of the meet will move to the Petals pool bar, and the meet will again be held this year.
…Rumors continue to strengthen about automatic doors for the parking lot trams. While it might make it a bit tougher to get everything squared away before the trams pull away from each stop, it should eliminate the instances of people not listening to directions, reaching for stuff that falls from the tram, and falling off themselves with dire consequences. We'll keep you informed as we hear more.
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!
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:
Passholder rates are available for the summer. You can book both room-only and Disney Dining Plan packages. Rates are valid for stays with a check-in date between May 26 and August 2, and can be booked from now through the date of arrival.
The booking codes for phone reservations are:
Note that Small World agents have run into difficulty with the ADS code for phone reservations with dining, but have found an alternate code to use. If the code doesn't work for you, try code CSS.
The booking codes for online reservations 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.