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Update for January 18 – January 24, 2009

Go directly to: News & Views | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions

News and Views

Idol in test-and-adjust | Wonders no more | DCL not heading for Alaska yet | Comedy Warehouse reunion | Construction update | Quick Takes …

The Americal Idol Experience in test-and-adjust

As I blogged last Wednesday, The American Idol Experience is now in test-and-adjust mode. It's likely that it will remain so until the attraction opens officially. Auditions start at 9:00 a.m. as long as the attraction is running, so get there early if you want to participate!


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Don't forget to let us know how it's running if you get in! In the meantime, here's a new video from Walt Disney World to promote the attraction:

Another promotional video clip features Idol's Syesha Mercado talking about the American Idol Experience.

Last night, I blogged four more videos from Public Relations, which walks you through the auditioning process. The first one starts by bringing you backstage.

Next, you go through the first (a capella) audition.

If you make it through the first audition, then it's time for a second (accompanied) audition in front of the producer.

Finally, if you get through the producer audition, it's showtime!

I'll keep blogging links to the new promotional videos as they're released, so keep checking back!


The construction area in the middle of Tomorrowland is now quite extensive. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


Stitch's SuperSonic Celebration, "a high-energy, retro-futuristic music video dance party that features Stitch, an interactive dance troupe, and a DJ celebration host who’s inviting all Walt Disney World guests to come party, dance and celebrate," will eventually take place in this large area beginning this spring. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


Digging is taking place very close to the supports for the Tomorrowland Transit Authority's track. Photo by Bruce Danderline.

Wonders no more

Say goodbye to the Fitness Fairgrounds. Permits have been filed that indicate the final demise of the former interactive area inside the Wonders of Life pavilion. Demolition of existing show sets, removal of electrical wiring in two show set areas of the Festival Pavilion and priming and painting of interior walls and facades are all on tap for the area. This appears to indicate that the few remaining reminders of the former use of the pavilion will be disappearing. The next public use of the pavilion will be as the festival center for this spring's Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, so we'll see what it looks like when the doors open.


Splash Mountain is still closed, but the water has been turned on and there were logs going down the flume for testing. Photo by Bruce Danderline.

Disney Cruise Line backs off from Alaska

It looks like the Disney Cruise Line is not going to Alaska after all, at least for now. The Orlando Sentinel is reporting (link) that the cruise line has withdrawn its application for a permit to sail in Alaska's Glacier Bay National Park.

It is likely that the combination of the permits covering the sailings from 2010 through 2019, the fact that the Disney Cruise Line's two new ships won't be sailing until 2011 and 2012 and the commitment of the Disney Cruise Line to have its two new ships sail from Port Canaveral at least through 2014 all played a part in the decision.

Disney will likely explore the possibility of Alaskan cruises during the next batch of permits to be awarded, but it really didn't seem to make sense to proceed until all of the pieces were in line to begin as soon as the permit was awarded.


The Golden Oak Outpost is shaping up on the former site of the Conestoga Fries wagon. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


Roof details are visible in this shot of the Golden Oak Outpost. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


The hillside has been replanted and the construction area has contracted. Photo by Bruce Danderline.

Comedy Warehouse reunion

In a blog post last week, I noted that many members of the Comedy Warehouse cast were doing a reunion show at the SAK Comedy Lab in Orlando last Saturday night. From all reports, it was an amazing night of comedy. If you missed the show and will be in town this week, there will be another show this Friday night featuring a showdown between the Comedy Warehouse Cast and the SAK Ensemble in a Classic Duel of Fools competition, with shows at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. You can call the SAK Comedy Lab Box Office at 407-648-0001 for reservations or check the SAK Web site for more information (link).


While the economy has had crowd levels down for the last couple of weeks, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend had crowds out, as the line for "it's a small world" backed up out into the main walkway. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


Some work is going on at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. Photo by Bruce Danderline.

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).

Gaylord Palms deepens discounts!

The Gaylord Palms Resort has announced even deeper discounts for MousePlanet readers (link). On 84 selected nights through the end of June, the resort has rooms at a low rate of $159 per night. This offer is available on the following nights:

  • January 20-25
  • February 21-22, 25-28 (also, February 2-14 is another exclusive special of $189)
  • March 5-6, 8, 11, 15-17, 21-29
  • April 1-8, 12-15, 17-19, 24-27
  • May 1-3, 6, 10-11, 15-16, 20-27
  • June 2-6, 9-17, 20-23, 28-30


A crane was removing the last of the Castle Dreamlights over the weekend. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


The crane's bucket put workers at the highest turret of Cinderella Castle. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


The crane should be gone shortly, once the lights have been completely removed. Photo by Bruce Danderline.

Construction update

Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:

  • Magic Kingdom's Frontierland – Golden Oak Outpost Sign Install Package.
  • Epcot's Innoventions East – UL Theater Facility Package.
  • Epcot's Innoventions East – Raytheon Electrical Package.
  • Epcot's Innoventions West – T. Rowe Price Facility Package.
  • Epcot's Wonders of Life Pavilion – Remove electrical wiring in two show set areas of the Festival Pavilion.
  • Epcot's Wonders of Life Pavilion – Demolition of existing show sets.
  • Epcot's Wonders of Life Pavilion – Priming paint interior walls and facades.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – Boat dock character dressing room and Island Merchandise room – Complete an exchange of space.
  • Contemporary Resort's Sundries Shop – Abatement of interior walls, ceiling tiles and carpeting.
  • Contemporary Resort's Pool equipment room – Remove and re-install new Owner furnished filters, controllers and pump.
  • Polynesian Resort's Buildings 2 (Aotearoa) and 3 (Fiji) – Replace exterior staircases.
  • Yacht & Beach Club Resort – Replace deteriorated siding.
  • Yacht & Beach Club Resort – Replace deteriorated wood at wedding gazebo.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort – Resurface interior pool finish at Ole Man Island Pool.
  • Wide World of Sports' The Milk House – Remove existing shingles, install new metal ridge vent system, replace shingles as required.
  • Northeast Resort Sales Center & Gatehouse Construction Package.

Quick takes …

…The revamped Disney Dreams Come True Parade is due to begin this week. We hope to have photos for you in next week's Update.

…Disney's Online Check-In service has reportedly been pushed back to a February 1 start date. Through the service, you'll be able to log in and complete your resort check-in (including adding credit cards for room charges, making room requests and listing special occasions) up to 10 day in advance of your arrival. When you get to your resort, your entire welcome packet will already be assembled and waiting for you at a special welcome location. If you're traveling to Walt Disney World and are able to try out this service, please let us know what you think of it!

…MousePlanet has recently joined the Facebook nation. We're just getting started, but you can join the MousePlanet and MouseStation Podcast groups, or become a fan of MousePlanet or the MouseStation. If there's something that you'd like to see us do on Facebook, let us know!


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

  • Jan. 23-25. Passholder and DVC previews of Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure.
  • Jan. 28. Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure launches.
  • Feb. 5-8. Passholder and DVC previews of American Idol Experience.
  • Feb. 12. American Idol Experience press event.
  • Feb. 14. American Idol Experience grand opening.
  • Feb. 27-Mar. 1. ESPN The Weekend.
  • Feb. 28. ESPN The Weekend 5K.
  • Feb. 15-Mar. 30. Atlanta Braves Training Camp.
  • Mar. 6-8. Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend
  • Mar. 18-May 31. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

Epcot

  • Tutto Italia Ristorante – is now open, but will close at a date to be determined to be completely remodeled.
  • Ellen's Energy Adventure – closed for refurbishment January 5 – March 22.
  • 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.
  • Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure – has been delayed. It continues testing and will open in "early 2009."

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment January 4 – February 28.
  • American Film Institute Showcase – closed for refurbishment January 4 – February 28.
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid – closed for refurbishment January 27– 29.
  • The American Idol Experience – under construction in the soundstage that formerly hosted Superstar Television and Doug Live! Scheduled to soft-open in January 2009, with the official press event scheduled for February 12 and the grand opening scheduled for February 14..

Animal Kingdom

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Resorts

  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – Phase 1 of the Kidani Village annex building for the Disney Vacation Club's Animal Kingdom Villas is expected to open in May 2009, with Phase 2 opening in September 2009. Jambo House construction is complete.
  • Yacht and Beach Club Resorts – Stormalong Bay pool area under refurbishment January 5 – late March. The pool will remain open, but sections will close one at a time for work. The three quiet pools will remain open during that time, and the Luna Park pool at the BoardWalk Resort, with its Keister Coaster water slide, will also be available during the work on the Flying Jib slide.
  • Bay Lake Tower at Disney's Contemporary Resort – Construction continues. The resort opens fall 2009.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – Closed for its annual refurbishment October 26 through March 21. Major work is required on the wave generation machine.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Walt Disney World Buy 4, Get 3 Free deal!

From now until January 24, if you book a four-night, four-day non-discounted Magic Your Way package, you'll get three additional nights (including tickets) for free.

The offer is good for stays on most nights February 2-April 4 and April 19-June 27, 2009.

As a bonus, if you travel between January 4 and March 29, you'll get a $200 Disney Gift Card that you can use to pay some of the costs during your stay. It's also valid at Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Store and disneyshopping.com.

Packages start at net prices of $46 per person per day for a family of four in a standard room at a Value Resort from January 4-February 12 (total package price $1,271). For February 13-April 4, the package price is $1,466 for a per day, per person cost of $53 at a Value resort. Those prices are based on families of two adults, one junior and one child.

Packages for other resorts and lengths of stay are also available.

Here's Disney's rundown on pricing and savings:

Disney Value Resorts Disney Moderate Resorts Select Disney Deluxe Resorts Select Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts
$1,271 ($316 savings)
Jan. 4-Feb. 12, 2009
$1,571 ($541 savings)
Jan. 4-Jan. 12, 2009
Jan. 19-Feb. 12, 2009
$1,981 ($848 savings)
Jan. 4-Feb. 12, 2009
$2,228 ($1,034 savings)
Jan.12-Feb. 9, 2009
$1,466 ($484 savings)
Feb. 13-April 4, 2009
$1,778 ($718 savings)
Feb. 13-April 4, 2009
$2,498 ($1,281 savings)
Feb. 13-April 4, 2009
$2,611 ($1,320 savings)
Feb. 16- April 4, 2009
$1,375 ($416 savings)
April 19-May 21, 2009
$1,666 ($634 savings)
April 19-May 21, 2009
$2,206 ($1,017 savings)
April 19-May 21, 2009
$2,363 ($1,135 savings)
April 19- May 21, 2009
$1,421 ($450 savings)
May 22 –June 27, 2009
$1,733 ($685 savings)
May 22-June 27, 2009
$2,206 ($1,017 savings)
May 22-May 25, 2009
June 2-June 27, 2009
$2,363 ($1,135 savings)
May 22 –June 27, 2009

Prices are based on two adults, one junior (ages 10 to 17) and one child (ages 3 to 9) in a standard room at a Value Resort, Moderate Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (Deluxe Resort) or a studio at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (Deluxe Villa Resort). Savings are based on the non-discounted price of a 7-night/7-day Magic Your Way package. The discount code for this offer is IUZ.

To book these packages, go to the Walt Disney World Web site (link), call 407-939-7928 or contact one of MousePlanet's Preferred Disney Travel Providers, Small World Vacations (link) and MouseEarVacations.com (link). Just remember to book by December 20!

Walt Disney World room-only deal for everyone!

From now until January 4, everyone can book a deep-discounted rate for reservations most Sunday through Thursday nights through April 2. Lowest rates are through mid-February, with discounted but not quite as low rates from then through early April.

Room rates start at prices of $49 per night for a standard room at a Value Resort from January 4-February 12. For February 16-April 4, the Value Resort rate is $74 per day. Rates at other resorts are also available.

Here's Disney's rundown on pricing:

Disney Value Resorts Disney Moderate Resorts Select Disney Deluxe Resorts Select Disney Deluxe Villa Resorts
$49
Jan. 4-Feb. 12, 2009

$94
Jan. 4-Jan. 15, 2009
Jan. 19-Feb. 12, 2009

$154
Jan. 4-Jan. 15, 2009
Jan. 19-Jan. 31, 2009
Feb. 7-Feb. 12, 2009

$189
Jan.4-Jan. 15, 2009
Jan.19-Feb. 12, 2009

$74
Feb. 16-April 2, 2009
$124
Feb. 16-April 2, 2009
$229
Feb. 16-April 2, 2009
$244
Feb. 16- April 2, 2009

Prices do not include tax and are based on a standard room at a Value Resort, Moderate Resort, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge (Deluxe Resort) or a studio at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa or Disney's Old Key West Resort (Deluxe Villa Resort). The discount code for this offer is OZ.

To book these packages, go to the Walt Disney World Web site (link), call 407-939-7545 or contact one of MousePlanet's Preferred Disney Travel Providers, Small World Vacations (link) and MouseEarVacations.com (link). Just remember to book by December 20!

 

Disney Cruise Line offers "Kids Free" deal

Disney Cruise Line now offering a "Kids Free" promotion. The deal offers free passage (plus government taxes and fees) for children ages 12 and under on three-night voyages when traveling with two full-fare paying passengers in the same cabin. The offer is valid on most sailings from January 22 through May 28 in a variety of stateroom cabins.

To book your "Kids Free" cruise, visit the Disney Cruise Line Web site (link), call 888-325-2500, or contact one of MousePlanet's Preferred Disney Travel Providers, MouseEarVacations.com (link) or Small World Vacations (link) and make sure to use booking code "FREE." For more information on other discounted cruises from MouseEarVacations.com, check out their list of cruise discounts for MousePlanet readers here on the MousePlanet site.

Gaylord Palms announces discounts through May!

While the Gaylord Palms always offers discounts of at least 15 percent off of normal rates to MousePlanet readers (link) – which is lower than you can get by calling the hotel directly, the main Gaylord Palms Web site, Expedia, Orbitz or any other channel – they've got an even lower discount running through May 31. On 83 selected nights, the resort has rooms at a low rate of $189 per night. This offer is available on the following nights:

  • January 7–16, 25
  • February 2-13, 21-22, 25-28
  • March 10-17, 21-29,
  • April 1-8, 12-15, 17-19, 23-28
  • May 1-3, 10-11, 15-16, 21-27

Discounted ECV rentals for MousePlanet readers through Scooter Vacations

Scooter Vacations, MousePlanet's mobility scooter rental partner, is offering MousePlanet readers a 10 percent discount on their scooter rentals by using code MP10 when making your reservation for any of their five scooter models.

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 rates for early 2009 released

Passholder rates for January 1 – February 12, 2009 have been released, with value resorts starting at just $49 per night, moderate resorts starting at $89 per night. Select deluxe resorts (Wilderness and Animal Kingdom Lodges) starting at $144 per night and studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa starting at $179 per night. The rates at value and deluxe resorts are valid January 2–15 and January 19 – February 12. Moderate resorts are available January 4–17 and January 21 to February 12. Saratoga Springs is available January 1 to February 12.

The number of rooms available is limited and minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday and Saturday arrivals. Reservations may be booked through the Passholder web site or by using code DYS if booking via the Passholder phone line (407-939-7722) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).

Disney Cruise Line half-price deposits for online reservations, for a limited time

The Disney Cruise Line has announced a special deal where any bookings through the Disney Cruise web site (link) will only require payment of half of the usual deposit, with the other half due with the rest of the final payment. The offer is only good on new bookings, and for category 4-12 cabins only. The offer is available to those booking online or through their travel agents (though the travel agent would have to book the cruise through disneycruise.com for the offer). Bookings are also eligible for the standard $25 onboard credit offer for all online bookings. The deal is available "for a limited time," but there's no word on when the limited time expires. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).


Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.


Talk about this article and more, on the MousePad community forums.


(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.