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Update for June 15 – June 21, 2009

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

News and Views

Free Dining | Onboard cruise credit | PhotoPass price hike | SuperSonic makeover? | Discovery Dinner | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Free Dining Plan booking window extended to July 26!

Walt Disney World has extended the booking window for the free dining package to run through July 26. The offer is still available most nights from August 21 through October 3.


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Sample five-night pricing for a sample family of four (two adults, a junior and a child) starts at:

  • $1,390 at a value resort
  • $1,764 at a moderate resort
  • $2,276 at select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge)
  • $2,586 in a studio room at select DVC resorts (Old Key West and Saratoga Springs)

The package includes base Magic Your Way passes. The value of the free basic Magic Your Way dining plan for the sample family is $654.

You can book your stay online, by calling Disney directly at 407-939-7603, or by contacting your travel agent. You can use booking code TBV or RYH. MousePlanet recommends that you book using one of our preferred Disney travel providers, Small World Vacations (link) and MouseEarVacations.com (link).

The extension of the booking dates isn't too much of a surprise. At a conference last week, Disney Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs noted that advance bookings have fallen off as people are planning their trips closer and closer to the actual travel dates. By extending the booking window, Disney is allowing more people to take advantage of the incentive, and hopefully increase Disney hotel bookings.

It's likely that things will get worse before they get better, so it will be interesting to see what happens on July 27, after the booking window closes. Disney probably won't extend the free dining promotion, so it'll be a question of what do they offer next? Perhaps the "buy-4-get-3-free" deal will return. (This is pure speculation, so don't make any plans based on this.)

If whatever promotion Disney offers for the last three months of 2009 (Disney's first quarter of fiscal 2010) doesn't drive bookings, we'll have to wait to see how they deal with it. It is not likely that they could cut more employees without impacting guest services (either directly or indirectly), so they may have to just eat the drop in revenue until things turn around for fear of providing too many negative guest experiences.

DCL offers onboard spending credits this summer

The Disney Cruise Line has a big deal going on from now through August. On most sailing dates from June 20 (seven-night cruises) or June 25 (three- and four-night cruises) through August 9 this summer, you can get an on-board spending credit equal to $100 per night of your cruise. That's a $300 credit for three-night cruises, a $400 credit for four-night cruises and a $700 credit for seven-night cruises. The credit is valid at any item that may be charged to their shipboard account, from spa treatments to shore excursions to on-board shopping and more.

This credit is available to those booking verandah staterooms only (that's categories 3-7), and you must mention booking code RAMA. This offer is not combinable with other offers, discounts or onboard credits. The credit is per stateroom, and is not refundable or transferable.

MousePlanet invites you to book your cruise through our preferred Disney travel providers, MouseEarVacations.com (link) andSmall World Vacations (link). You can also contact the Disney Cruise Line directly at (link) or 888-DCL-2500 (888-325-2500).

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)!

Disney's PhotoPass CD costs a bit more

Buying your vacation photos from Disney is getting a bit more expensive. The Disney's PhotoPass CD jumps in price from $129.95 to $149.95 on Tuesday, June 16. You can still obtain a 20 percent discount for purchasing the CD either in advance online (link) before you arrive, or in person before you leave Walt Disney World. Also remember that the price is valid regardless of how many CDs it takes to send you all of your photos (and edited duplicates). For more about PhotoPass, listen to an interview from last summer with Maggie Varnadoe, Manager of Marketing and Communications for PhotoPass, on the MouseStation Podcast.

New Stitch show in line for a makeover already?

Word is rapidly spreading around the Internet about a blog post at the WDWMagic Web site. The post (link) states that Stitch's SuperSonic Celebration will close within the next two weeks for changes. The show has come in for some criticism around the Web (including in this space) for its storyline and the shadeless audience area in the middle of Tomorrowland. No word on what changes will be made or how long it will take, but it's a good bet that Jason Surrell and his team will have the show tuned up and back in short order. We'll let you know as we learn more.

Next Wave Discovery Dinner on tap this Thursday night

The next in the series of "Discovery Dinners" offered at The Wave for Tables in Wonderland Members only will take place this Thursday night at the new restaurant at the Contemporary Resort. The latest event, the fourth in the series, focuses on the Santa Sweets Tomato Company from Plant City, Florida. The company sells proprietary breeds of tomatoes, including the Santa Sweets grape tomatoes and UglyRipe tomatoes, and is one of the largest growers of organic tomatoes in the country. In addition to Florida, the company's growing locations include North Carolina, New Jersey and Mexico.

Each course highlights various tomatoes, and includes a selected wine accompaniment. The five courses include:

  • Fresh Mozzarella, Basil and UglyRipe Tomato Crostini
  • Carved Buffalo Tenderloin, Cabernet Jus, Boniato Mash and Tomato Stack
  • Santa Sweets Teardrops with Veal Carpaccio
  • Cahaba Exotic Tiny Greens and Culinary Confetti
  • Sweet Tomatomisu served with Santa Sweet "Float"

The event ("casual evening attire") runs $92 per person, including tax and gratuity, and starts at 7:00 p.m. in the Wave Lounge. For reservations (if they are still available), please email nicole.l.rainear@disney.com with your interest to book, your name and phone number, and the number of people in your party. You will be notified on a first come first serve basis and your credit card will be taken over the phone. The event will be limited to 50 Guests.

The next Discovery Dinner event (cuisine TBA), will take place on Wednesday July 15.

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 – showset package.
  • Epcot Innoventions – Raytheon showset package.
  • Epcot Fountain of Nations – replacement of metal railing around fountain.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Fantasmic – minor electrical work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris – replacement of thatch roof at queue office building with metal deck over Uki pole purlins.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Pangani Forest Exploration Trail – installation of new mesh on Africa Aviary exterior.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – install sign.
  • Grand Floridian Resort – replacement of support posts and leveling of handrails at Narcoosee's Restaurant.
  • Boardwalk Resort Spoodles – show kitchen island rehab.
  • Beach Club Resort and Yacht Club Resort – minor carpentry and electrical work.
  • Port Orleans Resort marina – demolition and replacement of hardscape with new exposed concrete from commercial building to the planters.
  • Magic Music Days trailer complex – develop land for the placement of three trailers.
  • Flamingo Crossings – fill relocation and grading package.

Quick takes …

…In an item from the construction filings in last week's Resort Update that we didn't remark on last week, it appears that Space Mountain will be getting an interactive queue audio/visual package. This week's filings include a listing for a showset package, which may be for either the queue or the ride itself. In either case, speculation now centers on whether there will be a space-themed version of the queue games currently in use at Soarin' in Epcot's Future World. No word yet, but we'll probably get some sort of additional word before we approach the end of the seven-month refurbishment process. In the meanwhile, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority is scheduled to reopen in late August, which is expected to give guests their first peek at the new interior of the attraction's ride dome. We'll get you more information as it becomes available.

…Another interesting note from the construction paperwork filed this week is the rehabilitation of the show kitchen at Spoodles, at the Boardwalk Resort. As the restaurant undergoes its transition to Couzzina, a restaurant concept created by celebrity chef Cat Cora, the show kitchen will get a makeover. During the transition, word is that the restaurant will serve buffets to keep the dining capacity up during the free dining period.

…Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed a bill last week allowing time share companies to offer insurance policies that will allow buyers to cancel their purchases and their mortgages if they lose their jobs. This exit clause might help the various time share companies (including the Disney Vacation Club) to better entice those considering a purchase to make the leap of faith, as the worries about job security will be lessened. No word yet on when Disney might start offering such policies.

…With the Los Angeles Lakers' victory in the NBA Finals Sunday night, it looks like Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton will need to take a walk down Main Street, U.S.A. wearing personalized "Go Lakers" Mouse ears in the Laker colors of purple and gold. No word yet on when the pay-off to the bet with Disneyland President Ed Grier will take place.

…In celebration of World Environment Day, on June 4 Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) announced the funding of programs that will support more than 90 species and promote habitat conservation in 33 countries. The 2009 DWCF grant recipients will receive almost $1.5 million for efforts ranging from protecting Pakistan’s majestic Snow Leopards, to following the migration of Magellanic penguins in Argentina to reintroducing endangered Whooping Cranes in eastern North America.

…A new space-themed Coke commercial at the Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre Restaurant apparently debuted just last week. Has anybody else seen this yet?

…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 60 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:

The white sand on the beaches of the Seven Seas Lagoon came from the bottom of Bay Lake.


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.