On Monday, the Walt Disney Company announced that it was buying Marvel Entertainment in a blockbuster deal for $4 billion. Marvel is the owner of such superhero brands as Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain America and more.
There is much speculation about the implication of this purchase, not only in terms of movies and merchandising, but in theme parks. Universal's Islands of Adventure park has a Marvel Superhero Island land, which features popular attractions based on Marvel characters, including The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk Coaster, Doctor Doom's Fearfall and Storm Force Accelatron, as well as walk-around characters, dining and shopping locations themed to Marvel characters. Universal's contract with Marvel specifies that Universal will continue to hold the rights to those characters for those attractions and locations as long as they continue to operate them in the manner specified in the contract. That means that as long as they can keep the attractions running without modifications, they retain their rights. However, that also means that they cannot modify the attractions or locations outside the boundaries of the specific agreements or they lose their rights. This may eventually result in Universal having to make a choice between having the attractions and locations become stale or giving up their rights. This may not happen for some time, but it's an interesting point to ponder.
Universal also has the rights to the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man for their Tokyo park. They had previously given up their Marvel licenses for Universal Hollywood. In addition, Marvel had previously announced a deal to create the first Marvel-themed park in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. It remains to be seen whether the Walt Disney Company continues that development or if they kill the deal. There is some interesting commentary and information about the behind-the-scenes licensing information related to the theme parks in a couple of columns by Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood (link) and (link).
We'll have more discussion of the deal and many of its implications in an upcoming MouseStation podcast.
City Hall has been draped with black, yellow, and orange bunting to kick off the Halloween season for Labor Day Weekend. This year's first running of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party took place last Friday night. After all, what says "Halloween" more than Labor Day weekend? Photo by Tina Delaney.
The Main Street Confectionery is likewise draped, and also features several themed Jack O'Lanterns. There will be 22 more Halloween Parties between now and November 1. Photo by Tina Delaney
The Main Street Mayor and other Jack O'Lantern character scarecrows are all now on display. Happy trick-or-treating! Photo by Tina Delaney.
The booking window for the early dates for this year's Candlelight Dinner Package is already open. One of the most popular reservations each year is the Candlelight Processional Dining Package, which combines a dining experience at an Epcot table-service restaurant with reserved seats for the Candlelight Processional, a reading of the Biblical Christmas Story at the America Gardens Theater by a celebrity narrator, backed by a 50-piece orchestra and a 400-voice massed choir. You can see this year's list of narrators here.
The pricing tiers and dining hour restrictions for this year are the same as last year. All meal times during set windows based on the time of the performance to be seen. All seating times will be prior to showtime.
Those viewing the 5:00 p.m. performance will actually have their meal during lunch hours, with seatings between 1:45 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. This seating will carry a lower price tag than the two "dinner" seatings (see pricing below). Those wishing to attend the 6:45 p.m. performance will need to be willing to eat dinner with seating times between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. The 8:15 p.m. performance is the only one with close to "normal" meal times, with reservations between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
New this year is an increase for Disney Dining Plan participants. The package now costs two table service credits per person instead of one. This may be due to the response to the free dining packages that are available through December 17 this year. If you've got the Disney Dining Plan, you may wish to do some analysis to decide whether you're better off using 2 credits for the package or paying out of pocket for the package and saving the credits for another meal.
There are some shocking price increases this year. While children's meals are unchanged for Tier 2 and Tier 3 kids' prices are up only $1, lunch and dinner pricing for kids are up $5 and $8 respectively, making Tier 1 restaurants the most expensive for children's meals by far. For adult meals, Tier 2 is up $2 each for lunch and dinner, Tier 1 is up $5 for lunch and a whopping $12 for dinner (matching Tier 2's dinner price), and Tier 3 leaps $10 for lunch and $12 for dinner. We have no explanation at this time for the increases, unless it is to justify the 2 table service credits for those on the Dining Plan.
||Lunch prices||Dinner Prices||Participating Restaurants|
|Adults||Children ages 3 to 9||Adults||Children ages 3 to 9|
|1||$32.99 (up $5)||$17.99 (up $5)||$44.99 (up $12)||$22.99 (up $8)|
|2||$38.99 (up $2)||$12.99 (unchanged)||$44.99 (up $2)||$14.99 (unchanged)|
|3||$51.99 (up $10)||$13.99 (up $1)||$59.99 (up $12)||$15.99 (up $1)|
There will be no Candlelight package for the 5:00 p.m. show on December 6, as that is the annual Community Relations showing. Dining packages this year become available at the regular 90-day window for dining reservations. Call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) to make reservations.
MouseAdventure's Summer Warm Up
Congratulations to MousePlanet reader Tweetheart for being the first to post the correct answer to our Week 9 quest!
We regret the delay, but this week's edition of the MouseAdventure Summer Warm Up is delayed a week, as we prepare for the D23 EXPO. Check back next Monday for our next in-park quest.
The Inaugural MouseAdventure event at Walt Disney World will take place on Saturday, November 14, 2009!
The day will begin with a private breakfast at the Odyssey Center prior to park opening, followed by a six-hour fun-filled race around Epcot park for 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!
There has been much confusion and discussion for some time as Disney's Hollywood Studios has experimented with various changes to the process for those utilizing the Fantasmic Dining Package to enter the Hollywood Hills Amphitheatre. Since package cardholders were no longer admitted through the backstage gate next to Oscar's Super Service, confusion has been constant, with guests being told to arrive anywhere from 30-45 minutes before show time to 60-90 minutes before show time. Those arriving 60-90 minutes early would find that they could get better seating simply by staying with the masses and bypassing the reserved seating area for the package. Others would arrive to find that the reserved seating area was full and that they could only get admission for standing room only, or not at all. Communication in the entrance area was poor and inconsistent, and package holders would have to enter with the general admission guests and hope that they got up to the roped-off entrance to the reserved seating area.
Thankfully, the days of experimentation are at an end, and a solution is at hand.
Within the next couple of weeks, Fantasmic Dining Package guests will be asked to arrive at least 30 minutes before show time. While they will still enter through the main queue pathway, there will be a separate line to the right of general admission that will allow them easier access up to the reserved seating area regardless of how crowded the main queue is. The reserved seating area will not be opened up for overflow seating of general admission guests until there is 30 minutes or less until show time. With the separate queue to the reserved section, this will prevent cardholders from being blocked from arriving until their seats have been given away, as long as they arrive by 30 minutes before show time. Please remember, though, to allow at least five minutes to walk the lengthy queue, more for those who walk slowly.
If you try the Fantasmic Dining Package after the change is made, please let us know about your experience. Also, please let Guest Services at the Studios know if you have any comments on the new solution.
Tile work continues on the second-floor lobby at the Grand Floridian Resort. Photo by Tina Delaney.
Who needs Marvel superheroes? Last Wednesday night, crew members from the Disney Wonder played superhero, rescuing a man who had jumped into the ocean from a balcony on the Carnival Sensation 90 minutes earlier as both ships returned to Port Canaveral after four-night Caribbean cruises.
The 34-year-old man, whose name has not been released, jumped from a balcony railing into the waters 30 feet below at around 11:15 p.m. Conflicting reports have his wife either telling him to "go ahead" when he threatened to jump or trying to prevent him from jumping but not getting there in time. The couple was reportedly celebrating their anniversary.
The Sensation called for help and returned to the location where the man had jumped. The Wonder altered course to join the search and a Coast Guard helicopter and boats headed for the site, as well. One report (link) holds that the Sensation tried to launch a rescue boat to search for the man, but a crewman failed to untie a mooring rope and the boat capsized. The report further holds that the Sensation's search lights were insufficient, resulting in crew members shining flashlights at the sea's distant surface.
The captain of the Wonder asked guests to remain quiet so that the crew could listen for the man's shouting so that they could find him. Passengers on both ships could hear the man yelling for help. The Wonder launched a rescue boat and brought the man aboard at about 12:45 a.m. Wednesday. He remained aboard the Wonder until the ships returned to Port Canaveral Wednesday morning, where he was transferred to a hospital for treatment of a back injury and 48 hours' mental observation.
MousePlanet reader Michael Flowers was aboard the Wonder, and shares these amazing photos of the rescue, with the captions in his own words:
The Carnival Sensation. The boat was stopped in the water while the rescue was underway for the man who had fallen overboard. Photo by Michael Flowers.
You can see the passengers lining the deck of the Carnival Sensation watching out over the water as the search is underway. Photo by Michael Flowers.
The lifeboat crew from the Disney Wonder searching the water for the man who jumped off the Carnival Sensation. All this time, we could hear the man in the water yelling, "Help me! Help me!" Photo by Michael Flowers.
The crew of the Disney Wonder finally locate the man. They are bringing him in in this shot. Photo by Michael Flowers.
The lifeboat crew from the Disney Wonder returns back to the boat, after pulling the rescued man to safety. Photo by Michael Flowers.
Looking into the lifeboat from deck 4 of the Disney Wonder. The lifeboat has just rescued the man from the water and is returning back to the ship. Photo by Michael Flowers.
Another photo taken from Deck 4 of the Disney Wonder. The lifeboat crew has just rescued the man from the water and is returning back to the ship. Photo by Michael Flowers.
The lifeboat crew of the Disney Wonder being hoisted up. Photo by Michael Flowers.
The lifeboat being raised up to the deck of the Disney Wonder. Photo by Michael Flowers.
The lifeboat is raised back up to the deck of the Disney Wonder. Photo by Michael Flowers.
Doctors board the lifeboat to check on the rescued man. Photo by Michael Flowers.
Back aboard the Disney Wonder, the rescued man is taken away on a stretcher. Photo by Michael Flowers.
[This story originally ran on Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix's blog last Wednesday.]
Once you've sailed with Disney, you become a member of the Castaway Club, a VIP club for returning cruisers. Unlike most other cruise lines, Disney offers just one level of the Castaway Club—no matter how often you sail, you have the same "status" as someone who has only sailed once before.
On September 11, Disney is going to unveil a new tiered Castaway Club that will reward frequent cruisers with perks like advanced access to booking new ships and itinieraries, and new gifts for returning passengers. While this information was not supposed to be released until the Disney Cruise Line presentation at the D23 Expo, and cast members who have been trained on the new program were instructed not to discuss it with passengers, a posting on the official Disney Cruise Line Web site mentions the new levels.
All Disney Cruise Line Guests enjoy the finest vacation experience, made possible by our world-class service, dining and entertainment. Returning Guests get even more with our 3-level VIP Member program, the Castaway Club, and receive valuable benefits at home and on board such as members-only offers and events, plus early booking opportunities on future cruises. Log in to see what the Castaway Club has for you!
Castaway Club Members Enjoy Great Benefits Including:
- Gold and Platinum Members enjoy early booking opportunities for new itineraries and new ships
- Advance booking of in-demand shore excursions, child care at Flounder's Reef Nursery, fine dining at Palo and pampering at Vista Spa & Salon
- Special offer when you book a future Disney cruise vacation while on board
- Exclusive content on disneycruise.com—the latest cruise news, behind-the-scenes information, videos and Castaway Club Compass newsletter
- Complimentary Castaway Club lanyard and Key to the World card
- Dedicated Castaway Club toll-free number for customer service or booking your vacation
Because the information was posted to the Web site, a DCL cast member agreed to share additional details with us. The tiered system is based on the number of cruises you have sailed with Disney, instead of the number of nights you've sailed. This is good news for people who take lots of short, 3- or 4-night cruises, but not so good for people who cruise less often, but take longer cruises. (For example, I've sailed 7 times, but four of those cruises were 11–15 days long. Someone who takes only 3-night cruises would rack up credit for 18 sailings for the same number of nights)
The Silver level is the basic level, and the benefits are the same as are currently offered to Castaway Club members. Silver members will continue to recieve a Castaway Club gift at each sailing, and can book excursions and make Palo reservations at the 90-day mark.
Passengers who have sailed 6 or more times with Disney will be promoted to the Gold level. Gold members will receive a different and "enhanced" Castaway Club gift, and will be allowed to join the Concierge guests in booking Palo, Flounders, Vista Spa and shore excursions at the 105-day window.
If you've sailed 11 or more times with Disney, you are considered a "Platinum" passenger. The benefits are the same as the Gold level, though the Castaway Club gift will be a little nicer. Gold and Platinum members will have the opportunity to book new itinieraries before they are available to non-members.
More details will be announced at the D23 Expo when the program is formally introduced to passengers - along with the new itinieraries for 2010 and the new ship scheduled to arrive in 2011.
With the Disney Dream set to begin service in early 2011, Castaway Cay was in need of some more space for the 50 percent increase in guests per ship that will be coming to Disney's private island. The upgrade is now getting started, with a completion date of summer 2010, just in time for the scheduled five-night cruises by the Disney Wonder while the Disney Magic is away visiting the Northern European capitals. On those five-night cruises, the Wonder will make two calls on the 1000-acre island.
An extended Castaway Family Beach with enhancements including another 700 feet of sand, a new family buffet location, a new beach bar, a new beach rental location and a new merchandise location. Off the shore of the beach is a 2,400-square-foot floating water play area called Pelican Plunge, with two water slides, a bucket dump, four water cannons and more. Back on land, another 2,400-square-foot water play area provides dripping pipes, misters, a splash pad, water jets and more.
Scuttle's Cove, the island's youth center gets another water play area, this one 1,200 square feet, with a soft deck, pop jets, geysers and more.
Sixteen new 325-square-foot premium rental cabanas will border the family beach, while four more will be located on the adults-only Serenity Bay Beach. Also at Serenity Bay, three new massage cabanas will be added, for a total of eight.
Castaway Ray's Stingray Adventure will be moving over to a new spot adjacent to Gil's Fins & Boats beach rental, which will allow a larger area to be dedicated to the stingray activity. Meanwhile, a teens-only area called Hide Out will be created near the beach.
Additional tram paths and a new tram stop will be added, Marge's Barges & Sea Charters Dock will be expanded, and the dock for the cruise ship will be expanded, as well.
Disney provides a video wrapup of all of the coming changes.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…Don't forget that the application period for the 2010 Disney World Moms Panel (link) begins this Thursday, September 10. The application period is scheduled to be open for 10 days, though it may close if the maximum number of applications are received.
…Sad news for all of the old-timers among us. The Tomorrowland Skyway station is coming down. Demolition is underway on the station, with much of it gone already. There's no word yet on whether the restrooms will remain. For those of us who have a soft spot in our hearts for the old Skyway, there's only one remaining structure to remind us. Thankfully, there's not much chance that the Fantasyland station will be torn down, as it's not blocking anything and it provides a nice background behind the stroller parking area.
…The Disney Cruise Line will be announcing their 2011 itineraries at the D23 Expo on Friday, and will webcast the announcement on the DCL Web site (link).
…If you're planning to buy Disney Vacation Club points at Bay Lake Tower, you may want to do it in the next four weeks. According to DVCNews.com (link), the per-point cost will be going up from $112 to $120 in early October.
…The jewelry and pin room at the World of Disney in Downtown Disney has been closed off for conversion into a Villains Room. The new room is scheduled to open some time this fall.
…The "King's Cup" competition will take place next Monday at the Walt Disney World Speedway, with Richard Petty himself in attendance. The competition (at a cost of $899 for the general public or $599 for Petty Experience Rewards members) will consist of the Rookie Experience (eight solo laps around the one-mile track in a stock car), a street car challenge on an autocross course and head-to-head racing in high performance go-karts. The winner will be presented the championship trophy by Petty himself. The competition is open to guests ages 18 and older. For more information, go to the Richard Petty Driving Experience Web site (link) or call 1-800-BE-PETTY (1-800-237-3889).
…The Richard Petty Driving Experience has lowered the minimum age for the Ride-Along Experience from 16 to 14. The experience allows the guest to ride in the passenter seat of a two-seat NASCAR-style race car driven by one of the Petty professionals for three laps at a speed of up to 145 mph.
…You've only got one more week to enter Raytheon's MathMovesU sweepstakes (link), where you can win a 4-day, 3-night trip to Walt Disney World for the grand opening of the "Sum of all Thrills" exhibit at Innoventions, scheduled for some time in October. The grand prize also includes hotel, air and ground transportation, a "meet and greet" with an Imagineer and more.
…Congratulations to South Carolina State, who defeated Grambling State in the Walt Disney World-sponsored MEAC/SWAC Challenge on Sunday, giving the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference a 4-1 record against the Southwest Athletic Conference in the annual game between the two conferences of Historically Black Colleges & Universities.
…The 2010 Family Fun Run 5K is now full. The Walt Disney World Marathon is now at 77 percent of capacity, the and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest is at 60 percent. The Half Marathon and Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge are already sold out. Time is running out! Register now (link)!
Join our networks
Join our Facebook groups:
Become a fan on Facebook:
A picture of Walt Disney can be seen in the Carousel of Progress on the daughter’s room (left wall) in the third scene.
From now until September 26, if you book a three- to fourteen-night, non-discounted Magic Your Way package, you'll get Disney's dining plan for free.
The offer is good for stays on most nights September 27through December 17, 2009, except November 25-28, the Wednesday through Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend.. This time, the free dining comes with a twist: while the package stays the same if you book at a moderate, deluxe or villas resort, free dining packages at value resorts will be the quick service dining plan instead of the basic dining plan. You should be able to pay to upgrade your plan, but the "free" value of the deal at the values will be $29.99 per day for adults, $8.99 for children instead of $39.99 per day for adults, $10.99 for children. For a family of four with both children under age 10, that's a difference of $24 per day. For a family of four with both kids age 10 and up, it's a difference of $40 per day. Please be aware of that before you choose your resort!
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 September 26!
MousePlanet sponsor Gaylord Palms Resort has announced a new set of nights for a special promotional rate of $119 per night (Reserve now!). Why stay off property? Because you can get luxury accommodations for the price of a Disney moderate, just a mile from Disney property. Many other nights are available for $129 per night (see below). The following dates are now available at $119 per night:
There are 32 more nights that you can stay at the Gaylord Palms Resort for just $129 pr night! Combined, these rates are available for approximately 2 nights out of every 3 for the rest of the year! Check out the special MousePlanet reader discount rate (Reserve now!) today! The special $129 per night rates are available on the following nights:
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.
Passholder rates for August 9 through December 24, 2009 have been released. Rates are available for all dates except for November 25– 28, the Tuesday through Saturday of Thanksgiving week. Under this promotion, the starting rates at these resorts are:
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. These rates may be available through your date of arrival. Reservations may be booked through the Passholder web site or by using codes EQA (8/9-10/3) or NBM (10/4-12/24) 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).
Discount room-only rates are now available to the general public for dates from October 4 through December 24. These rates are blocked out from November 25–28, the Tuesday through Saturday of Thankgiving week. Under this promotion, the starting rates are:
These rates must be booked by September 26. 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 Walt Disney World web site or by using code FSC if booking via the Walt Disney World Reservations phone line (407-939-6244) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
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).
(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.