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Update for June 8 – June 14, 2009

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

News and Views

Mobile Room Ready Notification | Southwest remote check-in pilot | Eat to the Beat | Segway suit | NBA Finals wager | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Mobile Room Ready Notification Service eases check-in day concerns

If you're bothered by having to continually call your resort after you check in to see if your room is ready yet, your stress level may be getting a bit lower. Walt Disney World's new Mobile Room Ready Notification Service will let you provide a cell phone number and your preference for voice or text messaging when you check in, and Disney will alert you once your room is ready for you to move in. The message will include your room number.


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If you choose not to provide your phone number, you can still call the resort's room availability number or stop by the front desk to check on room availability.

The new, optional service is available for all Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, Disney Vacation Club Resorts and Disneyland Resort Hotels. Standard text or cell phone rates apply.

Southwest pilots remote check-in service at Pop Century Resort

Southwest Airlines passengers, rejoice! At least, for now, if you're staying at the Pop Century Resort you can. Walt Disney World and Southwest launched a test last Monday to see if the two could mesh their computer systems to allow Southwest passengers to use Disney's remote airline check-in service. Southwest was the only major airline not already participating in the remote check-in and baggage service.

For some time now, Disney and Southwest have said that they would like to offer the service, but that their computer systems were not able to function together properly. It appears that the technical wizards have tentatively gotten the problems worked out. If all systems function well following the pilot period (which will be of undetermined length), look for the service to be rolled out to all other Disney resorts.

Are You Game? MouseAdventure Walt Disney World registration is now open!

The first-ever running of MousePlanet's signature MouseAdventure event at Walt Disney World will take place on November 14, 2009! The day will begin with a private breakfast at the Odyssey Center prior to park opening. The meal will be followed by a six-hour fun-filled race around Epcot, giving you a fresh look at things in the park that you never noticed before!

The first part of the game will be in the classic MouseAdventure format, sending you on quests throughout Future World. After completion of that portion, teams will engage in an Enchanted Race around World Showcase to the finish line!

For more information or to register, go to the MouseAdventure page (link)! Don't forget to sign up for the MouseAdventure Newsletter to stay up on the latest MouseAdventure news (link)!

Final Eat to the Beat schedule released

Walt Disney World has released the final schedule for the Eat to the Beat concert series during the 14th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival this fall. The dates closely match what we had posted earlier. Sister Hazel has added an extra night to fill the TBA slot in the schedule, John Waite has added two additional nights, and the acts that we had labeled as tentative dates (En Vogue, Jon Secada, Sister Sledge and Vanessa Carlton) all had date changes from our original tentative schedule. Here's the final schedule (still subject to change, of course):

  • Sept. 25-27 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  • Sept. 28-29 – Richard Marx
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 3 Starship Starring Mickey Thomas
  • Oct. 4-6 En Vogue
  • Oct. 7-8 Better Than Ezra
  • Oct. 9-11 Sister Hazel
  • Oct. 12-13 Kool & The Gang
  • Oct. 14-16 Spyro Gyra
  • Oct. 17-18 Jon Secada
  • Oct. 19-20 Sister Sledge
  • Oct. 21-22 Vanessa Carlton
  • Oct. 23-25 Taylor Dayne
  • Oct. 26-28 Boyz II Men
  • Oct. 29-31 John Waite
  • Nov. 1-2 Night Ranger
  • Nov. 3-5 Billy Ocean
  • Nov. 6-8 Los Lobos

Segway lawsuit done, or is it?

Remember that Segway lawsuit filed against Disney that was first dismissed and later resurrected before the parties came to a settlement agreement last December? It seems that it's not quite over yet.

During a settlement hearing in federal court in Orlando last week, where a judge was scheduled to rule on the settlement, the organization known as Disability Rights Advocates For Technology (DRAFT)—who were the first to raise objections against the Disney policy and were thought to be behind the original class-action suit—came to the court to voice objections to the settlement.

"Banning Segway use by the disabled at Disney theme parks violates the Americans with Disability Act," said DRAFT President Jerry Kerr in a statement. "Disabled people are entitled to use whatever assistive device works for them to stay independent. As disabled people who use Segways, we are deeply offended by this perverse proposal."

In a brief filed in court, DRAFT noted that "People who use wheelchairs may bring them into the park at no expense, but disabled patrons who use Segways would have to surrender the mobility device that is now second nature to them, then attempt to rent a device that may not be in stock."

Disney notes that they are concerned about the fact that Segway use requires training, and that privately owned Segways have a top speed of 12.5 miles per hour. The Segways used on a closed course at Innoventions, in tours around Epcot and by cast members use a speed governor that restricts the devices to a maximum of 5 miles per hour. Some Disney cast Segways can go to 12.5 miles per hour, but additional training is required to use them.

Disney demonstrated one of the 26 Electronic Standing Vehicles (ESV) that they have developed for the use of Segway riders in the parks. The vehicles resemble the existing Electronic Convenience Vehicles (ECV) but with a standing backrest instead of a seat and a longer steering column. The ESVs also travel at a slower speed than private Segways, and can be rented at the same cost as an ECV.

Segway—which must walk a fine line here to avoid antagonizing either side, as bth provide Segway with a great deal of business—issued a press release stating that "Segway is not a party to this lawsuit and has not taken a position in this dispute. However, since the issue of safety has arisen in the context of the lawsuit, we are taking this opportunity to comment." The release went on to say that they wanted to be clear "that the Segway PT product is safe when used as directed in a variety of settings. The Segway PT is used by police officers and security personnel in crowded areas such as arena and downtown events."

Segway noted that Disney's position "is that no two-wheeled vehicles (including, but not limited to, the Segway PT, bicycles, and Razor scooters) should be permitted in its resorts for unrestricted and unsupervised use for safety reasons particular to its resorts." They noted that the Segway is safe when used as recommended in the User Materials. "That said, Segway products are not medical devices and are not FDA approved."

In short, they did a good job of stating that the Segway is safe for all uses, but that they were not taking a position in the lawsuit.

No decision was released in the case as of press time. We'll keep an eye out for an update on this story.

Disneyland vs. Walt Disney World in NBA Finals wager

It didn't take long for someone to figure out that the championship series of the National Basketball Association between the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic meant that it was a competition between the home cities of Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Since it has been a tradition of many championship series in major league sports that the mayors, governors or other political leaders of the homes of the two competitors place a for-fun wager (local foods or other representative stakes), Disney decided to get into the act and have the Presidents of the two domestic Disney resorts place a bet on the series.

If the Magic win, Disneyland President Ed Grier will walk down Main Street, U.S.A at Disneyland wearing a specially made blue-and-white pair of "Go Magic" Mickey Mouse ears with his name on them. If the Lakers win, Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton will take a similar stroll down Main Street, U.S.A. at Walt Disney World with a specially made purple-and-gold pair of "Go Lakers" ears.

"The Lakers are going to make your team very Grumpy this week," predicted Grier to Crofton.

"But we have 'Magic' on our side," countered Crofton. "And isn't that what Disney is all about?"

Meanwhile, the castles in each park have been turned their team colors on game days in support of their local teams, with Cinderella Castle in the Magic's blue and white colors and Sleeping Beauty Castle in Laker purple and gold.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Space Mountain refurbishment – Interactive Queue A/V Package.
  • Magic Kingdom Pirates League – marquee package.
  • Magic Kingdom Liberty Belle dock – wheelchair ramp.
  • Epcot – resurfacing of Innoventions East and West breezeways.
  • Epcot Innoventions – Raytheon exhibit facility package.
  • Epcot Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion – installation of fixtures and lighting shrouds at Nemo load area.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Lights, Motors, Action stunt show – mechanical access modifications to grandstand restrooms.
  • Downtown Disney Margarita Bar – minor electrical and carpentry work.
  • Magic Music Day trailer complex – development of land for the placement of three trailers.
  • TTC East Gate building – removal of existing roof and replacement with new 2-ply mod bit roofing system.
  • Contemporary Resort California Grill – installation of floor drain at tilt kettle location.
  • Boardwalk Villas – guest room renovation.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – replacement of designated existing shutters with new at Old Port Royal.
  • All Star Resorts – demolition and replacement of concrete and asphalt roadway at front bus entrance.

Quick takes …

…We noted in the May 26 Resort Update that it appeared certain that a Luxo, Jr. Animatronic character would be added to Pixar Place in Disney's Hollywood Studios. That has now been confirmed, as the Orlando Sentinel's Jason Garcia broke the official news last week (link).

…Walt Disney World sponsor HanesBrands has begun a promotion, giving away 16 weekly trips for four and one grand prize trip for 20 to Walt Disney World. You can enter at CelebrateInComfort.com (link).

…The 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon is now full. Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is 85 percent full (7,500 capacity). The Marathon itself is now at 55 percent of capacity and the Family Fun Run 5K is at 50 percent. Time is running out! Register now (link)!

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Jonathan Heigl's Trivia Tidbit of the Week:

When Walt Disney World first opened on October 1, 1971, it offered 23 attractions in all of the six themed lands of the Magic Kingdom (4 in Main Street, U.S.A., 3 in Adventureland, 5 in Frontierland, 2 in Liberty Square, 8 in Fantasyland, and 1 in Tomorrowland not including the second hub for the Skyway).


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 up

  • May 22-Jun. 14. Star Wars Weekends.
  • June 15 - Aug. 9. Sounds Like Summer Concert Series.
  • Sept. 4, 11, 15, 18, 22, 25, 29, Oct. 1, 2, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13, 15, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 29, 31, Nov. 1. Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
  • Sept. 6. Trek Women Triathlon (link).
  • Sept. 10-11. Night of Joy (link).
  • Sep. 20. Athletes for a Cure Triathlon (link).
  • Sept. 25 - Nov. 8. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
  • Sep. 26. Expedition Everest Challenge (link).
  • Oct. 11. Race for the Taste 10K and 3K (link).
  • Oct 24. Tower of Terror 13K and 5K (link).
  • Nov. 10, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 29, Dec. 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17,18. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • Nov. 12-15. Children's Miracle Network Classic (link).
  • Nov. 13-15. Festival of the Masters (link).
  • Nov. 14. MouseAdventure! (link).
  • Nov. 26, 27, 29. Old Spice Classic (link).
  • Nov. 27 - Dec. 30. Holidays Around the World at Epcot.
  • Dec. 7-12. Pop Warner Super Bowl (link).
  • Jan. 7-10, 2010. WDW Marathon Weekend (link).
  • Mar. 7, 2010. Disney's Princess Half-Marathon (link).

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • The Hall of Presidents – closed through July 1, 2009, major infrastructure upgrades, as well as for addition of President Barack Obama.
  • Tomorrowland Transit Authority – closed April 19 through August 19, 2009 for refurbishment and Space Mountain's refurbishment.
  • Space Mountain – closed April 19 through November 21, 2009 for major refurbishment.

Epcot

  • Tutto Italia Ristorante – is now open, but will close at a date to be determined to be completely remodeled.
  • 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.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

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 now open, with Phase 2 opening in September 2009. Jambo House construction is complete.
  • Bay Lake Tower at Contemporary Resort – Construction continues. The resort opens August 2009.
  • Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Construction continues. The resort opens June 2009.

Water Parks

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Elsewhere

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

Current Discounts & Promotions

Walt Disney World free dining deal!

From now until June 21, if you book a three- to fourteen-night, non-discounted Magic Your Way package, you'll get Disney's basic dining plan for free.

The offer is good for stays on most nights August 16 – October 3, 2009. Discount codes for the basic dining plan and available upgrades are as follow:

  • Basic Dine: RYH
  • Deluxe Dine: UGR
  • Basic Dine plus Wine & Dine: KEU
  • Deluxe Dine plus Wine & Dine: NZZ

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 June 21!

Gaylord Palms debuts new exclusive rate specials

While the special $119-per-night offer expired last Tuesday, MousePlanet partner Gaylord Palms Resort has followed it up with another great offer, this time valid for stays through the end of the year! For approximately 5 nights out of every 7 for the rest of the year, you can stay at the Gaylord Palms at the special MousePlanet reader discount rate (Reserve now!) of $129 per night. Even better, you can book these rates right up until the day you arrive! This new rate is even lower than Disney moderate resorts after June 6! Why stay off property? Because you can get luxury accommodations at moderate prices! These special low rates are available on the following nights:

  • March 11, 15–17, 21-29
  • April 1–13, 18–19, 24–27
  • May 10-11, 15–27
  • June 2–6, 9-17, 20–23, 28-30 ($139 rate)
  • July 1-6 ($139 rate), 7–18, 23–28
  • August 1–9, 13–15, 18–19, 22–27, 30
  • September 1-2, 6–8, 12–14, 18–20, 25–27
  • October 2–5, 13–18, 23–24, 29–31
  • November 3, 7, 12–15, 22-30
  • December 1-5, 9, 13–27

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 2009 released

Passholder rates for April 19 – June 6, 2009 offer value resorts starting at just $64 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights), moderate resorts starting at $94 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights). Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge) starting at $164 per night and studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa starting at $154 per night (Friday-Saturday nights) and $199 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights). The rates are valid most Sunday – Thursday nights during that period.

Passholder rates for June 7 – August 8, 2009 have been released, but the prices aren't available for nearly all nights during that time span. You'll want to check for the specific availability for the dates that you're planning to travel. Under this promotion, the starting rates at these resorts are:

  • Value resorts – $74 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights) and $84 per night (Friday and Saturday nights)
  • Moderate resorts – $109 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights) and $119 (Friday and Saturday nights)
  • Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge) – $144 (July 19-August 8), $174 (through July 18), and $194 (July 4 weekend) per night dependent on date
  • Studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, and Old Key West Resort – $164 per night (Friday-Saturday nights) and $194 per night (Sunday-Thursday nights).

The Disney Dining Plan may also be added to these discounted reservations. 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 EDB (through June 6) or EJC (June 7 – August 8) 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), 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.