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Update for January 4, 2010 – January 10, 2010

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

News and Views

Year to Overload | Meet the New Boss | Wishes party on hiatus | Food worker arrested | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Registration for "Year to Volunteer" hobbles Web site

The "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" promotion launched Friday, and after the list of eligible Hands On Network opportunities was posted and volunteers started signing up for a day of service, the promotion's Web site itself (link) folded under the pressure. Under the Disney promotion, in exchange for volunteering a day of service, one million people age 6 and older who sign up and perform their volunteer service will get a free one-day, one-park ticket to the Disney park of their choice. Frustrated would-be volunteers were confronted with error messages, frozen screens, and the inability to sign up for their chosen event before it filled up. Some MousePlanet readers expressed their frustration on one of our MousePad discussion forum threads.


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According to a post on the Disney Parks blog (link), "We prepared for this launch based on similar programs in the past. However, the large numbers of guests attempting to register for volunteer service in the program has created periodic slowdowns in the network, resulting in difficulty in completing the registration process." It was also noted that Disney is working to add capacity to the system to provide a "better registration experience."

Although Disney did not release any numbers, it assured applicants that "we will not hit the 1 million ticket milestone this weekend." Whether that means that the million vouchers are quickly dwindling or not is unknown, but if the slots fill so quickly, you can probably count on Disney to issue more; if not, then the year-long promotion wouldn't really be year-long. So keep checking the Web site for more volunteering opportunities. In order to keep the registration traffic manageable, only opportunities for the next 60 days are being listed. New opportunities are being added daily.

Some opportunities appear to be looking for a longer-term commitment, such as a volunteer mentor for Boys & Girls Clubs. Some opportunities are as short as three hours, or just for donating blood (as some Florida clinics are offering). There are also a number of office job-type volunteer opportunities, such as "grant researcher and writer" or "publicity specialist."

To start the process, you sign up for an event, get your confirmation, then complete the sign-up process. Once you complete your volunteer work, get your service verified by the host organization, then return to the Disney Web site to print out a voucher, which is valid for redemption at Walt Disney World or Disneyland ticket booths for a one-day, one-park ticket. Once you have redeemed your voucher for a ticket at the park, that ticket is valid only on that date. You can, however use it to upgrade to a park hopper, a multi-day park hopper or an annual pass. You can also apply the value to an annual pass renewal as long your pass expires before December 15, 2010. If you renewed your Walt Disney World Annual Pass after October 15, 2009, thanks to the 15-month renewal cycle, you won't have the opportunity to renew your pass prior to the deadline and your only option will be to donate your ticket.

MousePlanet is organizing group volunteer efforts in many cities. So join an existing group or start a group in your own home town, visit the MousePlanet Volunteers forum (link). We have a number of group volunteering efforts already in the planning stages, but they're all in the Western United States. Let's see if we can get some events organized in the East. I and/or some other MousePlanet staffers will likely get planning underway for an Albany/Capital District event here in Upstate New York in the next week shortly, as soon as we can find an event that can use a large number of volunteers. Why not consider starting a group in your area?

Disney Parks welcomes new chairman

On January 1, Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo and Walt Disney Company Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs traded jobs, with Staggs taking over the parks division while Rasulo became the Chief Accountanteer. This move is widely seen as giving Staggs the opportunity to run a major business unit as part of his grooming as eventual successor to Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Editorial note: While many wonder whether someone who has spent so much time on company finances can properly lead a division that depends on creating magic, I treat this transition in a similar fashion as when Bob Iger took over the Walt Disney Company from Michael Eisner and many thought that he would continue running the company as Eisner had. I am hopeful that Staggs has underutilized skills that Iger has seen and wants to nurture, and that he will grow positively into this role.

Wishes Dessert Party on hiatus through early Spring

As we mentioned back on November 16 and in an interview on the MouseStation podcast on Thanksgiving, the Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party was scheduled through January 2 and expected to reopen after some dining room refurbishments in late March. I received confirmation from Walt Disney World last week that the Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party will indeed be dark beginning on January 3 for facility refurbishments, and that you should look for the popular experience to return in early Spring 2010. More information on reservation availability following the refurbishment should be coming soon. We'll let you know when we have that information.

Disney food service worker arrested for kiddie porn

A food service worker at Walt Disney World was arrested on December 24 on 200 counts of possessing child pornography. Over 5,000 images of young children without clothes and in sexual poses were found on James Treanor's computer. Treanor, 32, has been held since his arrest at the Lake County Jail. Bond was set at $10,000 per count, or $2,000,000. Treanor's next appearance will be January 19 at the jail.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Splash Mountain – electrical work.
  • Magic Kingdom Space Mountain – electrical work.
  • Epcot Japan pavilion – electrical work.
  • Blizzard Beach – maintenance work.
  • Downtown Disney Disney Days of Christmas – building and electrical work.
  • Contemporary Resort – building repairs, electrical and plumbing.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort – building, electrical, fire alarm and plumbing work.

Quick takes …

…The holiday crowds have departed, returning the parks to their usual January quiet. Now is a good time to get in a quick, uncrowded vacation before the Spring Break crowds move in mid-next month.

…The cold temperatures at Walt Disney World have led to closures of Blizzard Beach, including yesterday and today. Yes, it's ironic that a park themed to a ski resort would close due to cold weather.

…Next Sunday, Blizzard Beach will close for its annual refurbishment while Typhoon Lagoon will return from its own refurbishment.

…The Picnic in the Park at Disney's Animal Kingdom is now a "seasonal" offering.

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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

  • Jan. 7-10. 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

  • Crystal Palace Restaurant – closed for refurbishment January 3 to February 15, 2010.
  • Splash Mountain – closed for refurbishment January 3 to February 27, 2010.
  • Cinderella Castle – facade refurbishment January 12 to March 31.

Epcot

  • Test Track – closed January 11-17 for refurbishment.
  • Living with the Land – closed January 18 to February 5 for refurbishment .
  • Cantina de San Angel – closed in January for major renovation for an undetermined period of time. Taqueria Del Lago will remain open.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Prince Caspian meet-and-greets end on January 9, but the Narnia walkthrough attraction will remain open.
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – closed January 11-15, 2010 for refurbishment .
  • Studio Backlot Tour – closed February 15 to March 27 for refurbishment .
  • Studio Catering Company – closed February 15 to March 27 for refurbishment for refurbishment .

Animal Kingdom

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Resorts

  • The Dig Site feature pool at Coronado Springs – closed for refurbishment January 11-31.

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

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 announces new gift-card-with-stay vacation package offer

Walt Disney World has announced an offer that will give you a free Disney Gift Card select vacation packages. The offer is good on vacation packages of five days or longer, and the size of the gift card varies depending on the resort category at which you are staying.

Stays at at Value resorts get you a free $300 gift card per room (essentially $60 per night), Moderate resorts qualify for a $500 gift card per room ($100 per night) and Deluxe and Deluxe Villa Resorts qualify for $750 per room ($150 per night). Obviously, the per-night average decreases for longer stays.

The deal is good for stays January 3 through June 3, 2010, with blackout periods depending on resort category, and can be booked from now through March 27, 2010. The eligible nights are:

  • Value resorts – January 3, January 10-12, January 18-February 9, February 15-March 27, April 11-June 3;
  • Moderate resorts – January 3, January 10-12, January 18-March 27, April 11-June 3;
  • Deluxe ande Deluxe Villas resorts – January 3-11, January 19-March 27, April 11-June 3; and

The gift cards can be used for merchandise, recreation, dining, special event tickets, sports, recreation, tours and more at participating locations throughout Walt Disney World.

The number of rooms available at these rates are limited. Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World web site (link) or by using code QGX 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).

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.

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).

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.