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Update for October 12 – October 18, 2009

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

News and Views

Quick-service seating | Kids Sail Free | Sum of All Thrills | Segway suit tossed | Internships available | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Quick-service dining locations test seating plan

At the four most-popular quick-service dining locations in the Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World has begun testing a new restricted seating plan on peak days. The plan is designed to ensure table availability for those with food and attempting to eat.


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At Cosmic Ray's Starlight Café, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café, Pinocchio Village Haus and Columbia Harbour House, entry is restricted to one door, though exits are permitted at all doors. Access to dining areas is restricted to those who have already received their food and are ready to eat. For those families who have sent one member up to order and get food, the rest of the family must wait outside the seating area until the person with the food arrives. At that point, the family will be escorted to an open table.

It's going to be interesting to see what the guest satisfaction surveys say about this, as it definitely has its benefits and its pitfalls. Those families who have had to to wait with a full tray of food, circling the dining room until a table opens up, will be very happy to know that an available table will be found for them by Disney cast members. On the other hand, those families who just need to get their overtired children seated in a cool place with one parent while the other parent retrieves the food will be frustrated at having to stand waiting until the food has been ordered, paid for and picked up.

If you've got an opinion on this new policy, join the active discussion on our MousePad discussion forums!

Disney Cruise Line offers "Kids Sail Free" deal

Now is a great time for families to book a Disney cruise, as the Disney Cruise Line has announced a "Kids Sail Free" promotion for most 3- and 4-night Bahamian sailings from January 7 through through April 15, 2010 and 10- and 11-night Mediterranean sailings from April 24 through May 26, 2010.

Children age 17 and under can sail free when traveling with two full-fare guests in the same stateroom, though government taxes and fees must still be paid for the kids. The offer applies to stateroom categories 4 through 12 and the number of stateroom categories are limited. Other special offers, discounts or onboard credits to not apply, though additional terms and conditions may apply.

Reservations may be booked through the Disney Cruise Line Web site (link), via the Disney Cruise Line Reservations phone line (800-951-3532) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link). You must use booking code KFO to receive this deal.

 Registration is now open for MouseAdventure Holiday: Reindeer Games
Saturday, December 12, 2009 at the Disneyland Resort!

There is still room for your team to join our first-ever holiday edition of our popular MouseAdventure event. This family-friendly format is a great way to enjoy the holiday season at Disneyland, and is perfect for new teams who want to try their skills at MouseAdventure.

Register For MouseAdventure Holiday: Reindeer Games!

"The Sum of All Thrills" exhibit to open at Innoventions Wednesday

Raytheon's "The Sum of All Thrills" exhibit will open at Epcot's Innoventions on Wednesday. The exciting new exhibit will be sort of an update of CyberSpace Mountain at DisneyQuest. Guests will be able to design a thrill ride (choosing from a bobsled-, roller coaster- or jet-themed ride) for one or two passengers, then get to ride the attraction that they designed. The computer system will determine whether the ride conforms to the laws of physics, and if not, the guest will be asked to modify the ride until it works.

The system will stress math and engineering principles as the ride is designed, as a tie-in to Raytheon's MathMovesU program (link), aimed at inspiring kids to pursue education in math and science.

The big twist with this attraction is that the ride vehicle for the simulator is actually a capsule on the end of the arm of a KUKA robot. KUKA arms are already in use at two locations at Walt Disney World. Elsewhere in Innoventions, KUKA arms are used at the Rockin' Robots display, where the arms move around to manipulate drumsticks and other implements to play percussion instruments and make music. KUKA arms also portray the security laser cannons at Stitch's Great Escape at the Magic Kingdom.


The KUKA RoboCoaster programmable robotic ride system will be a key component of Raytheon's "The Sum of All Thrills" exhibit at Innoventions. KUKA promotional photo.

The new arms are part of the RoboSim 4-D Simulator and the KUKA RoboCoaster programmable robotic ride system, which features two seats, a carbon-fiber hood that doubles as a restraint system, and a projection system. The visuals on the screen are synchronized with the movement of the arm, and the other rider's image is included in a corner of the screen, so you can see your companion's face as they react to the thrill ride. Air vents also simulate wind to complete the illusion of outdoor motion. The riders' legs dangle freely, while their upper torso is restrained inside the hood. The ride vehicle also includes a large "panic button," which will immediately stop the ride and return the arm to the load/unload position.

There are four of these ride vehicles located at Innoventions. With an active ride time of approximately two minutes, the ride cycle time is probably more like 3-4 minutes, resulting in a maximum Theoretical Hourly Ride Capacity of 160 guests. This very well may result in the longest wait times in the park, eclipsing Soarin', Mission: Space and Test Track.

Segway suit against Disney dropped; settlement voided

A U.S. District Court ruling last Tuesday gives Disney a victory in a battle, but takes a hoped-for victory in a war from them. U.S. District Judge Gregory A. Presnell dismissed the lawsuit brought by three Midwesterners alleging that Walt Disney World had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not allowing them to use their Segway mobility devices in the theme parks. At the same time, however, Presnell not only vacated the settlement proposed between the parties that would allow Disney to continue its policy of banning all two-wheeled vehicles (including Segways) from its parks, but also noted that while this suit and these plaintiffs did not have appropriate standing to force a policy change, "Those interests may still be protected by other provisions of the ADA or state law."

Presnell disqualified the case for these plaintiffs because, "All of the named Plaintiffs and objectors who testified in this case are able to use wheelchairs or scooters. Although some individuals may, with good reason, not want to use those devices and instead prefer to use a Segway, that preference—standing alone—is not essential to accessing Disney’s Parks. Although there may be some disabled individuals for whom an upright mobility device such a Segway—and not a wheelchair or some other “traditional” device—amounts to something that is essential, it remains a near physiological certainty that most people, regardless of disability, can sit from time to time.[…] With respect to the named Plaintiffs, in particular, there is simply no evidence that their use of a Segway is arguably essential to accessing Disney’s Parks."

In the decision, Presnell noted, "The ADA concerned itself with much more than just eliminating physical barriers to access, but with advancing the 'stature' of persons with disabilities, protecting against the 'stigma' that is often associated with being disabled and promoting respect for 'the dignity of individuals with disabilities.'" He further noted in dismissing the suit that "Whether another provision of the ADA or state law can provide the relief that the named Plaintiffs seek is unclear. Apart from the courts, it may be the case that another branch has the initial responsibility to ensure that individuals with disabilities can take advantage of Segways to serve the broader goals of Title III. As to these named Plaintiffs, however, these are questions best left for another day."

So what is the net result for Disney? The lawsuit and settlement are both no more. The deal to provide credits to the plaintiffs on future visits is null and void, but that money was negligible to Disney. The proposed Electric Standing Vehicle (ESV) that Disney would make available for those who wanted to stand had no standing in the decision, and it's unclear as to what the future of those vehicles will be. The big issue for Disney is that advocates for the disabled are now free to file further lawsuits, as there is no longer a proposed class-action settlement that would prevent future suits. Disability Rights Advocates For Technology (DRAFT)—a driving force in pushing for Disney to allow Segways in the parks—has hailed the decision and again called on Disney to allow Segways in the parks; however, it is unknown whether they are planning to find plaintiffs to file a new lawsuit under a different section of the ADA.

We'll keep an eye out and will report any future lawsuits on this issue.

Professional internship application period open

Niwel posted this in her blog on Saturday.

The Disney College Program is currently casting roles for program alums, who have the opportunity to continue their Disney career by becoming a Disney Professional Intern. The Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort are currently seeking candidates for Disney Professional Internships that begin in January 2010.

Students have the chance to gain insight and opportunity into their chosen field of study within a respected, world-renowned company. Students can apply the previous knowledge that they gained while on the Disney College Program and in their college studies to a real-world experience that includes networking opportunities with Disney professionals!

The deadline to apply for Disney Professional Internships is October 23.

To learn more about the positions available and the qualifications for each, visit disneyinterns.com (link).

There are also roles available in culinary (link) and entertainment (link).

For first-time applicants, recruiters are visiting colleges around the country to cast for The Walt Disney World College Program and Disneyland College Program.

Disneyland

  • 2010 Spring: approximately January through mid to late May

WDW

  • 2010 Fall Advantage: approximately January/February through August
  • 2010 Spring Advanatage Quarter: approximately March/April through August (only available to students attending schools on the Quarter/Trimester Academic Calendar)
  • Culinary:ongoing school demonstrations and interviews that will coincide with students' time frames

Note: There will not be a Summer-only opportunity available for first time participants.

REQUIREMENTS FOR BOTH PROGRAMS:

  • Participants must be currently enrolled as a full-time or part-time student in a college or university within the United States and have completed at least one semester.
  • Participants must meet their school's requirements for participation (G.P.A., grade level, credit hours earned, etc.). This varies by school, so please check with a faculty member to see if you are eligible to participate in the program.
  • Participants must be at least 18 years old by the time the program begins.
  • Participants must also have unrestricted work authorization in the United States.

To view the online e-presentation, see a list of campus visits, or for more information, visit the College Program Web Site (link)

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Pinocchio's Village Haus – installation of railing for new queue line.
  • Magic Kingdom The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – removal of wood shake roof and replacement with synthetic shingle.
  • Transportation and Ticket Center Ferry Boat landing area – relocation of power receptacle.
  • Transportation and Ticket Center Monorail platform – electrical panel replacement.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Outpost Shop – repair of roll-up doors.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Restaurantosaurus – replacement of awning/canopy.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom – replacement of existing rhino gate.
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House playground – electrical upgrade.
  • Port Orleans Riverside and French Quarter Resorts – cleaning, inspection and repair of lateral pipes in sanitary and storm sewers.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort Aruba pool – demolish concrete, installation, anchoring and replacement of concrete for ADA accessibility, replacement of pool heater and gas piping, application of new interior pool finish.

Correction

Last week, in the article regarding the "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" promotion, we noted that "Guests who will be visiting for more than one day (the vast majority, especially at Walt Disney World) will now either use their pass as an additional day to extend a multiday pass (net incremental cost to Disney $2) or opt for one of the alternative choices, two of which cost Disney nothing." We apparently misread the details of the promotion, and the free one-day, one-park pass can be upgraded to a higher-priced ticket, leaving that value at the cost of a one-day, one-park pass. So unless you are planning on only buying a length-of-stay package that includes park passes, or will not be visiting close enough to an annual pass renewal date to use the pass as part of the renewal ticket price, you'll be able to get full value from the free pass.

Also, the note regarding strange closure dates for Lights Motors Action was apparently due to a strange browser caching erro and is not currently on the Walt Disney World Web site.

We apologize for the errors.

Quick takes …

…For some reason, we haven't yet listed the fact that Disney has extended the 10 percent discount for using the Disney Rewards Visa card into the theme parks. Traditionally, the discount has only been available at the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney. It's only available at Disney-owned and -operated locations for purchases of $50 pre-tax or more. It's not valid on many types of merchandise, including ticket media, gift certificates, video, DVD, cameras, and so forth. Your best bet, if you're using your Disney Rewards Visa card is to ask ask if the discount is available. Disney Rewards Visa cardholders can also get free admission to the Children’s Miracle Network Classic for themselves and up to three friends. The 20 percent discount on tours and free photo opportunity are also still available.

…On the heels of last week's parking price increase, Walt Disney World Valet parking prices went up yesterday from $10 to $12.

…Nearly 300 Disney Cast Member VoluntEARS raised more than $8,000 for the American Heart Association for research and education to help fight heart disease and stroke on October 3 in the Greater Orlando Start! Heart Walk.

…The 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon is now at 85 percent of capacity, the and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest is at 78 percent. The Half Marathon, Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge and Family Fun Run 5K are already sold out. Your only shot at getting into the Half Marathon or Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge would be to contact one of Disney's group or charity registration aggregators (link). Time is running out! Register now (link)!

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Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

Coming up

  • 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. 25 - Nov. 8. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
  • Oct 24. Tower of Terror 13K and 5K (link).
  • Nov. 10, 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 29, Dec. 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 17,18. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • Nov. 10 - Jan 3, 2010. Castle Dreamlights.
  • Nov. 10 - Jan. 3, 2010. Osborne Familiy Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
  • Nov. 12-15. Children's Miracle Network Classic (link).
  • Nov. 13-15. Festival of the Masters (link).
  • Nov. 14. MouseAdventure! (link).
  • Nov. 17 - Dec. 24. Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney.
  • Nov. 26, 27, 29. Old Spice Classic (link).
  • Nov. 27 - Dec. 30. Holidays Around the World at Epcot.
  • Nov. 27 - Jan. 3, 2010. Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade.
  • Dec. 7-12. Pop Warner Super Bowl (link).
  • Jan. 7-10, 2010. WDW Marathon Weekend (link).
  • Jan. 15-17. UCA National College Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • Feb. 5-7. National Dance Team Championship (link).
  • Feb. 12-14. UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • Feb. 19-22. TwirlMania 2010 (link).
  • Feb. 27. Contest of Champions Nationals: School & Youth Rec Cheer (link).
  • Feb. 27. Contest of Champions Nationals: All-Star Cheer & Dance (link).
  • Mar. 3 - May. 16. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
  • Mar. 5. Contest of Champions Nationals: Studio Dance (link).
  • Mar. 6-7. Contest of Champions Nationals: School Dance (link).
  • Mar. 7, 2010. Disney's Princess Half-Marathon (link).
  • Mar. 12-14. UCA National All Star Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • Apr. 23-25. USASF/IASF Dance and Cheerleading World Championships (link).

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Space Mountain – closed April 19 through November 21, 2009 for major refurbishment.

Epcot

  • The Bijutsu-kan Gallery at the Japan pavilion is currently closed for installation of a new exhibit.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Animal Kingdom

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Resorts

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed November 30, 2008 through January 13, 2010 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – closed for annual refurbishment on January 14, 2010.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays – Saturdays. There will be no performances November 17, 2009.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Gaylord Palms debuts new exclusive rate specials

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:

  • July 23 – July 28
  • August 1 – August 10
  • August 13 – August 16
  • August 18 – August 27
  • August 30 – September 2
  • September 6 – September 16
  • September 18 – September 20
  • September 25 – September 27
  • November 22 – December 1
  • December 11 – December 25

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:

  • October 2 - October 5
  • October 13 - October 18
  • October 23 - October 24
  • October 29 - October 31
  • November 3 - November 7
  • November 12 - November 15
  • December 2 - December 5
  • December 9 - December 10
  • December 26 - December 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.

Passholder discounts through end of 2009

Passholder rates for August 9 – 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:

  • Value resorts – $64 per night (8/9-8/17, 8/28-9/22, 10/2-10/2), $69 per night (10/4-11/24), $54 per night (11/29-12/17) and $89 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Moderate resorts – $89 per night (8/9-8/18, 8/22-9/23, 9/27-10/3), $99 per night (10/4-11/24), $89 per night (11/29-12/17) and $124 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Select deluxe resorts (Yacht Club, Beach Club, BoardWalk) – $234 per night (8/28-10/3)
  • Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge) – $169 per night (10/4-11/24), $139 per night (11/29-12/17) and $229 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, and Old Key West Resort – $159 per night (8/9-10/3), $189 per night (10/4-11/24), $169 per night (11/29-12/17) and $249 per night (12/18-12/24).

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).

Room-only discounts for the general public through end of 2009

Discount room-only rates are now available to the general public for dates from October 4 – 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:

  • Value resorts – $74 per night (10/4-11/24), $84 per night (11/29-12/17) and $94 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Moderate resorts – $109 per night (10/4-11/24), $96 per night (11/29-12/17) and $134 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge) – $179 per night (10/4-11/24), $149 per night (11/29-12/17) and $239 per night (12/18-12/24)
  • Studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, and Old Key West Resort – $199 per night (10/4-11/24), $179 per night (11/29-12/17) and $259 per night (12/18-12/24).

These rates must be booked by October 31. 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).

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.