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Update for December 7 – December 13, 2009

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

News and Views

New room-only discounts | Christmas Parade filming | Bomb threat at Magic Kingdom | Wheelchair vs. Segway ban | Marty Sklar | Construction update | Quick Takes …

New room-only discounts announced for early 2010

On Tuesday, Disney announced a new set of room-only discounts, with savings of 30 percent on Value resorts, 35 percent on Moderates, 40 percent on Deluxes and 45 percent on Deluxe Villas. The savings are value for standard rooms on most nights From January 1 – February 11, 2010.


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Sample rates:

  • Value resorts – $58, $65 or $102 per night
  • Moderate resorts – $97, $104, $107 or $143 per night
  • Select deluxe resorts (Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge) – $144, $156, $159 or $243 per night
  • Studio accommodations at Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, and Old Key West Resort – $163 or $234 per night.

The number of rooms available at these rates are limited, and minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. You can only book these rates through December 31, 2009, so book now!

Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World web site (link) or by using code SGG if booking via the Walt Disney World Reservations phone line (407-939-7607) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).

Christmas Parade filming avoids weather, squeezes in

The weather didn't cooperate on schedule, but the recording for the Walt Disney World portions of the Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade still took place last week and over the weekend.

Thursday's session went as scheduled, with American Idol season 8 winner Kris Allen and Yanni performing in front of Cinderella Castle. Friday and Saturday, however, were another story. Rain fell on Friday morning and washed out the planned in-park sessions, with the stormy forecast cancelling Saturday's session as well.

One of Friday's scheduled performers, Celine Dion, went on with her songs, but in an alternate location. Dion performed inside the Grand Floridian, with Disney's Encore choir in the entranceway of the main lobby, and singing solo in front of the new bandstand outside Mizner's Lounge on the second floor.

Fimed on Sunday was the big number, featuring the Jonas Brothers, along with a performance by Steve Rushton and the running of the parade floats down Main Street, U.S.A. The Jonas Brothers number, featuring the audience performing choreography to dance along with the star act, will be the opening segment of the parade on December 25. Look for the Disney World Moms Panel near the stage in their pink shirts.

Perennial host Regis Philbin will be taking the year off as he recovers from hip replacement surgery, leaving his morning show co-host Kelly Ripa to handle hosting chores by herself. Nick Cannon (America's Got Talent) handles the man-on-the-street interviewing this year.

Combined with performances from Disneyland with host Ryan Seacrest and Travel Channel host Samantha Brown checking in from aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship, the 26th annual show will air on ABC at 10 a.m. Eastern and 9 a.m. Central, Mountain and Pacific times on Christmas Day.

German tourist arrested for false bomb threat at Magic Kingdom

A German tourist was arrested for making a false bomb threat at the entrance to the Magic Kingdom last Sunday morning. Jochen Naumann, 37, of Leipzig, told security cast members that he had two bombs in his backpack as he was going through the security screening area outside the park at around 10:22 a.m. The cast members questioned Naumann, who again asserted that he had two bombs in his backpack. One of the cast members notified a nearby Orange County Sheriff's deputy, who had a bomb-sniffing dog check the bag. There were no explosive devices in the bag.

During an interview in a Walt Disney World security office, Naumann told deputies that he was only joking about the bombs. Naumann was arrested on charges of making a false report of a bomb. Naumann's bond was set at $10,000 on Monday. That amount is double the normal bond for this offense due to the fact that Naumann is not a U.S. citizen and hence is considered a higher flight risk.

Editorial: As always, this points out the need to use common sense. When at a security checkpoint, do not joke that you are carrying bombs. If you do joke that you are carrying a bomb at a security checkpoint and you are asked if you are serious about it, do not reassert that you have a bomb. It may seem funny to you, but to people who are charged with making sure that people don't bring bombs through the checkpoint, it will not seem funny—and you will likely be arrested.

High-tech "transformer" wheelchair runs North Miami Beach mayor afoul of Segway ban

The mayor of North Miami Beach became a victim of Walt Disney World's fight over Segway electric vehicles in the park. Myron Rosner, who is a paraplegic due to a construction accident, uses an iBOT 4000 wheelchair (link) to get around. The $30,000 device, developed by Segway creator Dean Kamen, is an approved medical device that converts between four-wheel and two-wheel operation. Rosner usually travels in two-wheel mode because it puts him at eye-level with his wife.

Cast members told Rosner that he could not operate his iBOT in two-wheel mode because of the park's ban on guests using two-wheel mobility devices in the parks. Rosner and his family were followed around Disney's Animal Kingdom to ensure that he did not raise the chair again.

Disney stated that its employees were confused, and that the iBOT should have been allowed since it is approved for use as medical equipment—as opposed to Segways, which are not. Although Disney has issued an apology, however, Rosner plans to file suit.

Ironically, Rosner was inspired to buy an iBOT by a display of the device at Epcot's Innoventions a few years ago.

Marty Sklar to speak at Contemporary Resort on Saturday

Please note that this presentation has now been postponed. We will let you know when it is rescheduled.

This Saturday night, December 12, Disney Legend and former Executive Vice President and Imagineering Ambassador Marty Sklar is scheduled to speak at the Contemporary Resort's Convention Center to raise funds for Ryman Arts (link). His topic will be "Herbert Dickens Ryman: An Artist's Journey to Walt's and Other Worlds":

Join Marty on a journey through the life and legacy of Herb Ryman and the establishment of Ryman Arts, founded in his honor by six friends, including Walt's daughter Sharon Disney Lund, and Marty and Leah Sklar. Herbert D. Ryman (1910-1989) created the first overall illustration of Disneyland, drawing as Walt Disney described his dream for a new kind of family entertainment, and continued to work on every Disney theme park until he died in 1989. Don't miss this rare opportunity to listen to Marty speak about and show Herb Ryman's contributions to key milestones in the history of The Walt Disney Company, including the story of the Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle, and Herb's world travels, including his amazing paintings of people and places.

Tickets are $125 for dinner and the presentation, with a limited number of VIP tickets available for $250. The VIP tickets include:

  • A private reception, at which Marty Sklar will present "Writing for Walt":
    • Listen to Marty's stories about writing personal material for Walt for annual reports, Disneyland guides, and other publications.
    • Watch a video that Marty wrote to send to GE as an update on a show for the 1964 New York World's Fair.
    • Watch Walt's EPCOT Film. Marty wrote this film as a presentation to the Florida Legislature about Walt's vision for his Florida site, and it is the last time Walt was filmed.
  • Preferred seating for dinner and The Herb Ryman Story presentation.
  • A photo with Marty.
  • A copy of A Brush with Disney: An Artist's Journey, published by Ryman Arts and signed by Marty.

The main event will take place in Fantasia Ballroom J, and will begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The VIP experience begins at 5 p.m. in Nutcracker Ballroom III. The presentation is sponsored by Partners Federal Credit Union, the credit union for Disney cast members (link).

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom parking lot – milling and overlayment of main entrance and exit roads, east tram lane, Sneezy and Donald parking lots.
  • Magic Kingdom – milling and overlayment of Park 3 Canal Road.
  • Main Entrance/TTC – installation of fiber optic cabling and electrical outlets.
  • Magic Kingdom Main Street – carpentry and electrical work.
  • Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland – electrical work.
  • Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station – modification of existing handrails and installation of new ceiling fans.
  • Epcot France pavilion wine shop – POS CCTV cameras installation.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Stage 1 Company Store – removal and replacement of 13 windows.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Oscar's Stroller Rental – POS CCTV cameras installation.
  • Downtown Disney Team Disney – electrical work.
  • Grand Floridian Resort – building work.
  • Contemporary Resort Convention Center loading dock – removal of existing sliding door system and replacement with new, high speed and roll-down metal door system.
  • Contemporary Resort Convention Center cast parking – installation of electrical outlets.
  • Wilderness Lodge – milling and overlayment of the entrance & exit of the porte cochere and parking lot road.
  • Yacht & Beach Club Resorts walkway retaining wall – concrete inventory and demolition with installation of new concrete.
  • Coronado Springs Resort Dig Site pool building – replacement of heat exchanger.
  • Pop Century Resort all buildings – guest room rehab.

Correction

Last week we reported that the Disney Wonder had been converted to use Key to the World cards to run the self-service guest laundry and that the Disney Magic would join it during its next dry dock. Readers have advised us that the Magic had already been converted, and that the price is $2 per load for each washer or dryer.

Quick takes …

…Vanessa Williams is out and Kirk Cameron is in as Candlelight Processional narrator, as Cameron will take Williams' place on December 12 and 13. Williams' December 14 spot was added to Abigail Breslin's run from December 15-17.

Please note that Kirk Cameron has also been replaced on December 12-13. The new narrator is Chita Rivera.

…Disney has added Annual Passholder discounts for all remaining nights of Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party with the exception of the final night, December 18. Tickets must be purchased prior to the date of the event, and are available for the passholder and up to three guests.

…Robert Chester Double, Jr., 50, who was arrested July 3 for groping young girls at Typhoon Lagoon, has plead guilty to one count of lewd and lascivious molestation and has been sentenced to five years probation. He has also been ordered to stay away from water parks and have no contact with anyone under 18 years old.

…The 2010 Walt Disney World Marathon, which happens next month, 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 to Jan 3, 2010. Castle Dreamlights.
  • Nov. 10 to Jan. 3, 2010. Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.
  • Nov. 17 to Dec. 24. Festival of the Seasons at Downtown Disney.
  • Nov. 27 to Dec. 30. Holidays Around the World at Epcot.
  • Nov. 27 to 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 to 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 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 – 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.

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 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.