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Update for November 30 – December 6, 2009

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

News and Views

Cruise robbery | Tyra Banks | Old Spice Classic | TV Special | Shipboard laundry | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Cruisers robbed at gunpoint on Nassau shore excursion

Eighteen passengers from the Royal Caribbean Navigator of the Seas and the Disney Wonder were robbed at gunpoint while on a Segway tour of Nassau, Bahamas on Friday, November 20.


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The cruisers were on a Segway tour of a 200-acre attraction called Earth Village. Disney's version is called "Segway Off Road Back to Nature." The nine Royal Caribbean passengers and their tour guide were accosted by two men with shotguns, who ordered them to the ground and took their money, passports, cell phones, credit cards, and more. The nine Disney passengers and their guide happened upon the scene and were similarly treated.

Among the 18 cruisers were Americans, Canadians, Irish, and Chinese citizens. Both cruise lines have cancelled the tour from future itineraries. None of the tourists were injured in the attack.

In a statement, Disney Cruise Line noted that their teams both on board and in Nassau worked with the guests, provided assistance, and made sure that their needs were met. The statement also noted that the crime was being investigated by the Bahamian police.

This once again goes to prove that while you may be on vacation and traveling with Disney, you still need to be aware of your surroundings, and be aware that criminals can be anywhere. This is especially true when you leave a cruise ship in a foreign port, as Disney does not have complete control over the environment.

Tyra Banks turns three girls into princesses

On last Wednesday's The Tyra Show hosted by Tyra Banks, the star surprised three girls and their mothers with a trip to Walt Disney World to meet and become princesses.

The girls got makeovers into Princess Tiana garb at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, had many special meetings with princesses, attended a special tea party, and got another special visit from Banks. The girls had additional special time with Princess Tiana. The show will be rerun on December 11 on the CW Network.

Florida State wins Old Spice Classic in closing seconds

Congratulations to Florida State, who beat Marquette 57 to 56 on a baseline jumper by Solomon Alabi with 11.9 seconds left to win the final of the Old Spice Classic at The Milk House at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. Alabama earlier beat Michigan, also in the closing seconds, for third place. Fifth through eighth places were taken by Baylor, Xavier, Iona, and Creighton, who rounded out this year's field.

Next year's field will include Boston College, California, Georgia, Manhattan, Notre Dame, Temple, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. The fifth annual tournament will take place November 25, 26 and 28, 2010.

TV special shows holiday preparations

For a great look at how Walt Disney World prepares for the holidays, check out Behind the Magic – Disney Holidays on HGTV, which premiered last night. According to the network's Web site, the show will be rerun:

  • November 29, 8:00 pm
  • November 30, 3:00 am
  • December 11, 8:00 pm
  • December 12, 3:00 am
  • December 20, 5:00 pm
  • December 24, 4:00 pm
  • December 25, 8:00 pm
  • December 26, 3:00 am

You might want to check out the HGTV Web site (link) to enter their sweepstakes for a family vacation for four that includes an overnight stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite.

Charge your shipboard laundry

If you've been wondering why you can charge everything to your cabin aboard the ships of the Disney Cruise Line except the self-serve laundry, you can knock that off your list. Both the Wonder and Magic ships now allow you to use your Key to the World cards to pay for the washers, dryers and the detergent and fabric softener vending machines. In fact, you have to. Guest laundry facilities are no longer coin operated. The change was made during the ship's recent dry-dock refurbishment. Look for the Disney Magic to follow suit during its next scheduled dry dock.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom – removal and replacement of tiles at the exit of Enchanted Tiki Room—Under New Management and in front of service counter of Sunshine Tree Terrace.
  • Transportation & Ticket Center Monorail Station – removal of canopy roof and replacement with new canopy roof.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Restaurantasaurus – replacement of all exterior railing and one exterior deck.
  • Old Key West Resort – removal and replacement of 7 air conditioning units at Hospitality House.
  • All Star Sports Resort – milling and repaving of the area by Stadium Hall check-in.

Quick takes …

…Victoria & Albert’s restaurant at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has been awarded the AAA Five Diamond Award for the tenth consecutive year. It is one of only 52 restaurants to receive the award this year in North America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

…We've received a number of reader reports that the paint in the back hallway of the Space Mountain queue (where the in-show exit—a.k.a. "Chicken Ramp"—is located) is starting to peel away from the walls in sheets, as if the paint was not sealed to the primer properly.

…The NFFC Disneyana Fan Club World Chapter's next All Disneyana Show & Sale takes place at the Regal Sun Resort on Hotel Plaza Boulevard, just up the road from Downtown Disney, on Saturday, December 12 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Those attending the NFFC Extravaganza can enter at 9 a.m. and NFFC members not attending can arrive at 9:30. Admission is $5.00 general admission, or $4.00 with a copy of this Park Update.

…Santa Claus is making appearances at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort from December 3-23.

…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)!

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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. 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

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

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:

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

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 2–5
  • October 13–18
  • October 23–24
  • October 29–31
  • November 3–7
  • November 12–15
  • December 2–5
  • December 9–10
  • December 26–27

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 three twists to this version, though.

The first twist is that 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.

The second twist is that 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.

The third and final twist is that 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-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 – 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 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 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.