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Update for November 23 – November 29, 2009

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

News and Views

Holiday time | Mickey joins the parade | Dreamers Academy | Olszewski appearance | Construction update | Quick Takes …

The holidays have arrived at Walt Disney World

The Christmas season is now getting into full swing at Walt Disney World, and the last few pieces will fall into place later this week.


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At Disney's Animal Kingdom, the Jammin' Jungle Parade is now jingling, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights is glowing at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party is in full swing at the Magic Kingdom, and Epcot's decorations are up as well (though without the Lights of Winter, as we told you last week). Resort decorations are going up, with more resorts showing their festive spirit daily, and Downtown Disney's Festival of the Seasons is rolling along with daily meet-and-greets with Santa.

Starting this Friday, Epcot's Holidays Around the World will get under way. That will bring the Holiday Storytellers to each pavilion, the Candlelight Processional to the America Gardens Theater and the Holiday Tag to Illuminations: Reflections of Earth.

Gingerbread is everywhere, including the giant gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the gingerbread house at the Liberty Inn, and the gingerbread carousel at the Beach Club Resort. Here's a look at the construction of the carousel:

We'll have an interview about the Grand Floridian's enormous gingerbread house with Grand Floridian Executive Pastry Chef Erich Herbitschek on tomorrow's MouseStation Podcast.


The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights are currently dancing to five different holiday tunes at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Donald Duck's Uncle Scrooge is doing meet-and-greets while keeping an eye on Donald's Christmas Tree farm. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Sailor Mickey joins the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Mickey Mouse is rejoining the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City as a balloon this year. The famous mouse's last appearance in the famed parade was in 2000, when he was dressed as Bandleader Mickey balloon. Mickey's first appearance in the parade was in 1934. This year, he'll be attending as Sailor Mickey, wearing a nautical jacket and cap, and riding an anchor to help promote the Disney Cruise Line and the impending arrival of the Disney Dream in 2011 and Disney Fantasy in 2012. The balloon will appear in the famed parade through 2011.

Not only will Mickey be the newest balloon in the parade, he's also going to be this year's "Macy's official holiday ambassador," meaning that he is available as a collectible talking plush for $14.95 plus tax at all Macy's stores and through their web site (link) through the holiday season. The 18" plush Mickey doesn't say, "Let's go cruising on the Disney Dream," but if you squeeze his hand, he will say "Gosh, you're great," "Ahoy there, mateys," and "Merry Christmas!"

"Mickey Mouse has always been a cherished character in Macy’s Parade history," said Robin Hall, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. "From the very first Mickey Balloon that Walt Disney himself helped design to our brand new giant Sailor Mickey setting sail this Thanksgiving, Mickey Mouse is truly a Macy’s Parade star."


The new Sailor Mickey balloon joins the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade this Thursday. Photo © Disney.

The new balloon is approximately 61 feet high, 33 feet wide and 48 feet long, and takes about 14,000 cubic feet of helium to fill. It'll take 70 people to guide it down the parade's new route through midtown Manhattan. For the first time in its 83 runnings, the parade will bypass Broadway in its journey from Central Park down to Macy's Herald Square location. After stepping off from Central Park West and 77th Street, instead of turning onto Broadway at Columbus Circle, the parade will turn left onto Central Park South, then right onto 7th Avenue, left on 42nd Street, right on 6th Avenue, and then right onto 34th Street a block from Herald Square. The old route cut the diagonal, going down Broadway from the corner of Central Park to the corner of 6th and 34th. The parade steps off at 9 a.m. Eastern Time this Thursday morning.

The inflatable Mickey joins fellow helium-powered Disney-owned characters Buzz Lightyear and Kermit the Frog.


That's neither sun nor moon rising near the China pavilion. The Characters in Flight balloon in Downtown Disney can be seen from within Epcot. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

2010 Disney Dreamers Academy participants selected

The 100 members of the 2010 Disney Dreamers Academy have been selected, and are ready to participate in the event, which will take place February 11 to 14, 2010. The Disney Dreamers Academy is held in partnership with nationally syndicated radio host Steve Harvey. The event's third class was selected by a panel of 13 judges including Harvey, actress Jasmine Guy, UNCF Executive Director Sherry Paramore, and Disney executives Rilous Carter and Tracy Walters.

The participants are students in grades 9 to 12 that show promise but need some additional motivational support to excel. This year's class comes from 22 states, plus the District of Columbia. When they arrive at Walt Disney World, they will get exposure to many different disciplines, including sessions with famous businesspeople, performers, and athletes. For more information on the program, go to the Disney Dreamers Academy Web site (link).


To help fight the spread of H1N1 and other viruses, no-touch hand sanitizer dispensers provide foamy alcohol-based sanitizer in many locations, including theme park entrances. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Disney artist Olszewski to make appearance to sign new piece

Famed Disney artist Robert Olszewski (interviewed a number of times on the MouseStation Podcast, will be making an appearance at Walt Disney World to sign his latest release, the Main Street Railroad Station. His appearance locations and times have been changed to accommodate the filming of the Christmas Parade for broadcast. The locations, dates and times are:

  • Art of Disney at Downtown Disney on Saturday, December 5, from 3–5 p.m. and 6–8 p.m.
  • Uptown Jewelers on Main Street, Magic Kingdom, Sunday, December 6, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3–5 p.m.

The Magic Kingdom signing was originally on Saturday, with the Downtown Disney event on Sunday, but the filming of the parade on Saturday would have caused conflicting crowds on the thoroughfare, so the dates and times were switched.

For more information about the event and the new piece, go to the event's page on the Art of Disney Parks Web site (link).


The bandstand in the upper-level lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has been enlarged. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Hall of Presidents – rigging package.
  • Epcot Camera Center – electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios American Idol Experience – building and electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster – building, electrical and fire sprinkler work.
  • Downtown Disney Pin Traders – electrical work.
  • Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex buildings 4003, 4017 – synthetic shake roof replacement.


As the tile work at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa nears completion, Mrs. Potts greets guests outside the Tea Room. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Chip greets guests arriving at the Tea Room from the other side. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Cinderella and her prince grace the floor in front of the upper- and lower-floor entrances to the great birdcage elevator. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Tinker Bell flits across the floor in front of the elevators on the other side of the lobby. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Meanwhile, Peter Pan and friends fly across the floor at the downstairs entrance below the Commander's Terrace. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Meanwhile, there are a few pieces of trim waiting to be completed. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The entrance foyer for the Grand Floridian Cafe will be the last area to have its carpet torn up and tile laid down. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Quick takes …

…Adventurers Club fans, take note: ConGaloosh 2010, "A Sterling Sensation: The Gathering of the Tribes" will be held October 8–10, 2010, at Walt Disney World. The event, put on by the not-for-profit Congaloosh Society, is expected to feature all Adventurers Club characters performing an all-new script. Registration opens December 1, 2009. If you hear adventure calling your name, don't miss it. You can watch for more information at the group's Web site (link) or at the event's Facebook page (link).

…The Old Spice Classic is again happening this week at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. The eight-team tournament will again be held at the Milk House, which has received a new basketball floor last used for the NCAA Women's Final Four last year. The floor has been repainted with the ESPN WIde World of Sports Complex logo painted at center court. The complex will be officially renamed in February, on the Thursday leading into ESPN The Weekend.

…Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich was named the winner of the Disney Spirit Award, given annually by Disney Sports to college football’s most inspirational figure. The former All-American was recognized for overcoming a rare form of bone cancer and helping to inspire more than $120,000 in donations for cancer-related causes. The award will be presented during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards at Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, December 10. The 19th annual awards show is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Eastern Time and will be televised live on ESPN.

…The Orlando Sentinel is reporting (link) that the Walt Disney Company will be bringing a delegation to Shanghai in early December to assist with the negotiations and planning for Shanghai Disneyland.

…The 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon is now at 94 percent of capacity. The Walt Disney World Half Marathon, Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, Disney/Pixar UP & Away Family Fun Run 5K and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest 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)!


The Liberty Belle is all decked out for Tiana's Showboat Jubilee. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

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The Year to Volunteer

To assist MousePlanet readers who want to participate in The Year to Volunteer, we're looking for readers to act as MousePlanet hosts at qualifying volunteer opportunities across the country. While details of specific opportunities won't be available until after the promotion begins in January, several of our volunteers hosts said they want to start coordinating their local events. To help facilitate these activities, we've created a new MousePlanet Volunteers section of our MousePad discussion board devoted entirely to the Year to Volunteer events.

If you would like to coordinate and host a group volunteer event in your area, please visit our MousePad discussion board for more information on how to list your event (link). Hosts will be responsible for selecting a volunteer opportunity from the HandsOn Network site (which means you get to choose a program or organization that's important to you!), and coordinating with local MousePlanet readers who want to volunteer for your activity. To give readers the most time to use their tickets, we encourage hosts to schedule their activities early in the year.

Hosts from Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay area, southern Utah, southern Nevada and southern Arizona have already started discussions for their area, and are looking for local readers to join their activities. If you live in one of these areas and want more information about local events, please visit MousePad and join the discussion (link).

 


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

  • 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 Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
  • 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).
  • Jun. 12. Expedition Everest Challenge (link).
  • Oct. 1-2. Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon (link).

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

Epcot

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 1, 2009 through January 9, 2010 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – closed January 10, 2010 through March 20, 2010 for annual refurbishment.

Elsewhere

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

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:

  • 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:

  • 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.

Walt Disney World offers new "Free Nights" discount, with some twists

Walt Disney World has released a new version of the "Buy-4-Get-3-Free" deal offered earlier this year, for most dates from November 1, 2009 through March 27, 2010. There are, however, three twists to this version:

Twist #1: The Buy-4-Get-3 deal is only for stays at moderate resorts and up. If you're staying at a value resort, the deal becomes a Buy-5-Get-2-Free. This cuts the net difference in price between values and moderates by about 40 percent, with comparative sample 7-night vacations in November for a family of four differing by $152. This will help to convince many families "on the bubble" to opt for moderate resorts, thus clearing more availability for those who can only afford value resorts.

Twist #2: You must buy park passes for the length of your stay. No more annual passholders doing the "buy a one-day pass and get the free room nights" trick. If you're staying at a moderate and up, you'll need a four-day pass and at a value you have to buy a five-day pass. This results in the net park pass savings of $9 per person at moderate and higher resorts and $6 per person at values. Of course, if you were hoping to do the one-day purchase if you hold annual passes, it's an extra $146 per person at moderates and up and $149 per person at values.

Twist #3: You will not get free days on your dining plan with this deal. You can buy the dining plan with the discount, but you'll have to pay for all seven days. That's $120–$141 per adult and $30–$39 per child (moderate and up) or $80–$94 per adult and $20–$26 per child (value) that you're paying that you didn't have to pay in this spring's offer.

Despite that, it's still a nice discount on the room and park passes for those without annual passes. If you were looking for a reason to add a trip in the next few months, now is the time! The offer is good November 1–20, 2009; December 10–24, 2009; and January 1 to March 27, 2010.

These rates must be booked by December 20. The number of rooms available is limited. Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World web site or by using codes GQA (value resorts) or UJX (moderate resorts and above) if booking via the Walt Disney World Reservations phone line (407-939-1318) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).

Passholder discounts through end of 2009

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:

  • Value resorts – $64 per night (8/9–17, 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 (12/18–24)
  • Moderate resorts – $89 per night (8/9–18, 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 (12/18–24)
  • 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 (12/18–24)
  • 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 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:

  • Value resorts – $74 per night (10/4 – 11/24), $84 per night (11/29 – 12/17) and $94 per night (12/18–24)
  • Moderate resorts – $109 per night (10/4 – 11/24), $96 per night (11/29 – 12/17) and $134 per night (12/18–24)
  • 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 (12/18–24)
  • 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 (12/18–24).

These rates must be booked by December 20. 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 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 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.


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.