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Update for February 2 – February 8, 2009

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

MousePlanet/MouseStation Meet at Walt Disney World next week!

Mark Goldhaber will be down for a lightning-fast trip to cover an event this month, and we're putting together a meet for any MousePlanet reader or MouseStation listener who might be in the area.

The meet will tentatively be held from noon to 2 p.m. on Thursday, February 12 at the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station, Lower Level seating area overlooking the castle. Time, date and location will be finalized later today. The final information will be posted on Mark's blog, with the post featured on MousePlanet's front page. You can also RSVP for the event on Facebook (link) or by emailing Mark.

Stop by, meet fellow MousePlaneteers, and get your MousePlanet button!

News and Views

Cruising with little ones | Idol to premiere next week | Star Wars Weekends | Passholder rates | A personal appeal | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Disney Cruise Line announces new service for those traveling with little ones

The Disney Cruise Line has partnered with Babies Travel Lite, an online retailer, to provide delivery of baby supplies directly to guest staterooms beginning March 15. Cruisers visiting the Disney Cruise Line Web site (link) will be able to gain access to a special section of the Babies Travel Lite site, where they can create orders for supplies customized to the duration of their cruise.


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The cruise line also provides other products and services to help allow families with infants and toddlers to alleviate their trepidation about cruising with their little ones.

  • Guests can request complimentary Diaper Genie units, cribs and playpens from the stateroom host or hostess for use during the cruise.
  • Bottle warmers, bottle sterilizers and strollers are available complimentary at Guest Services for use during the cruise,
  • Additional baby supplies are available for purchase aboard the ships.
  • Wagons are available at Castaway Cay to make it easier to carry everything around the island's beaches.

Of course, the Flounder's Reef Nursery for children 12 weeks to 36 month and Mickey's Splash Zone wet play area are also great places for those little ones who aren't yet toilet trained.

"Disney Cruise Line prides itself on delivering a vacation experience that caters to every member of the family including our youngest cruisers," said Tom Wolber, senior vice president of operations for Disney Cruise Line. "The new delivery service eliminates the challenges of packing for infant travel, while onboard conveniences simplify family travel for parents looking to relax during their cruise vacation."

Don't forget about the discounts currently available for Disney Cruises listed below in the Discounts and Promotions section of the Update. For more information about Disney cruises, go to 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). 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.


The Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure recruitment center on the main bridge between Future World and World Showcase is now open. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


When it's time for your mission, you'll report to one of the distribution carts around World Showcase. Photo by Bruce Danderline.

The American Idol Experience to premiere next week

The clock is ticking down to the grand opening of The American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios. A red-carpet world premiere event on Thursday, February 12 will ensure a big press blitz for the February 14 grand opening. Earlier that morning, reigning American Idol champion David Cook (link) will perform live from the attraction on Good Morning America; he'll headline the special entertainment at the press event that evening. The park will close at 6 p.m. that evening for the event. MousePlanet will be there to cover the world premiere for you, and we plan to have blog entries posted that evening and the next day, with complete coverage in the Park Update on Monday, February 16. You'll also be able to follow Mark Goldhaber's notes on his Twitter feed (link).

For those that have missed the previous stories here in the Update and on the MousePlanet site in general over the last year, The American Idol Experience allows guests to audition to perform in one of seven daily shows in the newly-rechristened Superstar Television Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Those auditioning will have to pass two different auditions, one a capella and one with musical accompaniment, selected from a list of 113 songs (see Jeff Kober's article "So You Want To Be On American Idol at Walt Disney World?" for the complete list).


See a time-lapse movie of the construction of the "American Idol" stage inside the Superstar Television Theater.

Those who successfully pass both auditions (and are selected to fit the balance of the day's shows) are given a time to return, an hour before show time, to get some extra vocal coaching and for hair and makeup. After a runthrough on the big stage, it's time to perform in front of 1,000 guests on a stage that looks just like the real American Idol stage! Each performance will be critiqued by three judges, who have no say in the actual voting. Those in the theater will vote by touching a keypad in the armrest of their chairs. The highest vote-getter from each show wins a spot in the day's final show. The winner of the finale gets a "Dream Ticket," a free front-of-the-line pass for a regional Idol audition of their choice. For more information about the attraction, rules for auditioning and the Dream Ticket, go to the official American Idol Experience Web site (link).


The Sorcerer's Hat at Disney's Hollywood Studios is getting a fresh paint job just in time for the American Idol Experience world premiere. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


The Carthay Circle Theater replica housing the Once Upon a Time shop is getting a major refurbishment. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


The Osborne Lights are still in the process of coming down, weeks after the display finished its run. Photo by Bruce Danderline.

Star Wars Weekends dates now official

While dates had been unofficially floating around for weeks, Disney officially announced the dates for this year's Star Wars Weekends last week.

The four weekends that it will be held are:

  • May 22-24
  • May 29-31
  • June 5-7
  • June 12-14

Featured guests for each weekend have not yet been announced. We'll report them here in the Update as we receive the information.


Since the interior of the Hall of Presidents is getting a complete makeover, they'd might as well fix up the outside, as well. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


Concrete is being poured in Tomorrowland at the Stitch's Supersonic Celebration site. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


The construction wall at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom is down, and it has revealed … a planter. Photo by Bruce Danderline.

Passholder rates for February-April

Passholder rates for February 15 to April 2, 2009 were released earlier, but we neglected to highlight them in the Update. Value resorts start at just $69 per night, moderate resorts start at $114 per night. Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge) starts at $214 per night and studio accommodations at the Old Key West Resort and Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa start at $229 per night. The rates are valid most Sunday through Thursday nights during that period.

The number of rooms available is limited. Reservations may be booked through the Passholder web site or by using code PYS 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).


The interesting design of the Sky Walk Bridge connecting Bay Lake Tower to the Contemporary Resort is now apparent. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


The pagoda at Epcot's Japan pavilion is wrapped up for refurbishment. Photo by Bruce Danderline.

A personal appeal, for the fourth year

On April 26, I'll be walking to raise money for the March of Dimes again. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Last year, through the generosity of friends, family, co-workers and MousePlanet readers, we managed to raise $5,043.42. This year, let's beat that. My goal is to raise $6,000 this year. I think we can do that. I know that the economy is tough right now, but the charitable causes are hurting and need money, as well. For more information about why I'm walking, or to donate, please go to my fundraising page (link). Thanks for your consideration.


Celebrate Today! signs are working their way up Main Street. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


The signs are also appearing in Epcot, while a construction wall is up around the Fountain of Nations. 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).

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Hall of Presidents – refreshing of audio/visual package.
  • Magic Kingdom Columbia Harbour House – installation of ice machine head.
  • Epcot Mission Space – installation of new flooring in the merchandise shop.
  • Epcot Imagination pavilion – removal of existing drinking fountain at "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience" (entrance/queue area) and installation of new drinking fountain.
  • Epcot China pavilion – removal of existing drinking fountain at Lotus Blossom Cafe and installation of new drinking fountain.
  • Epcot Canada pavilion – removal of existing drinking fountain at the theater exit and installation of new drinking fountain on opposite side of exit.
  • Epcot Mexico pavilion – modification of walls, casework, lighting, doors and fire sprinklers to renovate merchandise shop.
  • Contemporary Resort Marina Feature Pool – draining of pool, demolition of existing tile, installation of new owner furnished tile on pool beam pool steps and replacement of main drain grates.
  • Wilderness Lodge lobby – modification of existing log themed ceiling mechanical access doors for this installation of a hinged system with gas spring closer.
  • Fort Wilderness Campground Visual Display Complex – abatement and demolition.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort Buildings 1-7 – painting of all handrails.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort Alligator Bayou "A" pool – replacement of pool heater & upgrade of screw fitted gas piping.
  • Northeast Resort – construction package for Sales Center & Gatehouse.


The performance stage at Downtown Disney has been completed and is in use for various shows. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


Work is going on at the LEGO store and its playground at Downtown Disney. Photo by Bruce Danderline.


The Characters in Flight balloon is expected to be flying later this year. In the meantime, this sign shows where it will be located in relation to the information booth at Downtown Disney's West Side. Photo by Bruce Danderline.

Quick takes …

…Congratulations to the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers for a truly exciting and amazing nail-biting win on Sunday's Super Bowl. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes were tapped to appear in "I'm Going To Disney World!" commercials. They will be featured guests in a parade down Main Street, U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom today. Holmes, who has faced numerous off-field conduct problems involving drugs and violence, nontheless performed some spectacular plays during the game, including his six-yard touchdown with 35 seconds left in the game which helped the Steelers grasp the game win away from the Arizona Cardinals.

…The Swan and Dolphin Resorts announced an interesting deal last week, whereby residents of either Pennsylvania or Arizona would receive a free night at the resort when booking two nights at a standard price, depending on whether the Pittsburgh Steelers or Arizona Cardinals won the Super Bowl. Fans must book their vacation by February 28, but can take their trip at any time within the next year. So congratulations, Pennsylvanians! You can now start booking your deal! You must have valid appropriate state identification to present upon check-in to receive this offer. Use promotional code SBOWL at the time of booking. For more information or reservations, call 888-828-8850 or visit the Swan and Dolphin web site (link).

…The 2010 Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge continues to fill quickly, and is currently at 65% full. Register now to secure your spot (link).

…Join the MousePlanet and MouseStation Podcast groups on Facebook, 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

  • Feb. 5-8. Passholder and DVC previews of American Idol Experience.
  • Feb. 7-8. UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • Feb. 12. American Idol Experience press event.
  • Feb. 13-16. TwirlMania (link).
  • Feb. 14. American Idol Experience grand opening.
  • Feb. 15-Mar. 30. Atlanta Braves Training Camp.
  • Feb. 27-Mar. 1. ESPN The Weekend.
  • Feb. 28. ESPN The Weekend 5K.
  • Mar. 6-8. Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend.
  • Mar. 14-15. UCA National All Star Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • Mar. 18-May 31. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
  • Apr. 24-27. USASF/IASF Dance and Cheerleading World Championships (link).
  • May 17. Florida Half Ironman Triathlon (link).
  • May 22-Jun. 14. Star Wars Weekends.
  • Sep. 20. Athletes for a Cure Triathlon (link).
  • Dec. 7-12. Pop Warner Super Bowl (link).
  • Jan. 7-10, 2010. WDW Marathon Weekend (link).

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.
  • The American Idol Experience – under construction in the soundstage that formerly hosted Superstar Television and Doug Live! Currently in soft-open status, with the official world premiere 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 Contemporary Resort – Construction continues. The resort opens fall 2009.
  • Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Construction continues. The resort opens summer 2009.
  • Port Orleans Riverside – Ol' Man Island pool area closed February 2–28 for refurbishment.
  • Fort Wilderness Campground – Meadows pool area closed for refurbishment January 12 – March 13.

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 March 29, 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 now-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 March 29!

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 March 29!

 

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 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

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 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 – February 12. Saratoga Springs is available January 1 – February 12.

Passholder rates for February 15 – April 2, 2009 have been released, with value resorts starting at just $69 per night, moderate resorts starting at $114 per night. Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge) starting at $214 per night and studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa starting at $229 per night. The rates are valid most Sunday – Thursday nights during that period.

 

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 (through February 12) or PYS (February 15 – April 2) 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.