[Originally reported on my blog late Thursday night.]
Tables in Wonderland, the discount dining program available to Florida residents ($100) and Passholders ($75), has added 11 new restaurants for 2010. The program gets members a 20 percent discount on all food and beverages at participating Walt Disney World restaurants, as well as opportunities to attend special dining events.
New for 2010 are:
For those wondering, here's a list of all restaurants participating in Tables in Wonderland:
Walt Disney World Resorts
Walt Disney World Theme Parks
The new pizzeria at the rear of Epcot's Italy pavilion is beginning to take shape. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
Meanwhile, construction walls are up in the middle of World Showcase Promenade in front of the Italy pavilion. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
Disney Parks is now offering a way to have wait times, meet-and-greet information and more sent to your cell phone via text message while you're visiting. The new feature is available by visiting the Disney Parks Mobile Web site (link). You can request wait times for any attraction up to four times a day while you visit, meet-and-greet locations for your favorite character up to once per day, and even receive information about your resort and special offers during your visit.
You'll need to register your phone to receive access to the information, and the registration process will include verification from your phone. When at the parks, you can text WAIT and the name of an attraction to 37275 to receive wait times, MEET and a character name will get you meet-and-greet information, and so on. It will not work without you registering.
If you're a local and won't be having an overnight stay, you can still get wait time information and character locations and times, up to 12 days per year. Information will also continue to be available from the Walt Disney World Mobile Web site (link).
Rockwork at Splash Mountain is shielded while the attraction is closed for refurbishment. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
The Briar Patch has been drained to allow repainting of the scenery. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
The attraction will be closed for refurbishment through February 27. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
…Last week, the Disney Cruise Line announced that The Golden Mickeys would no longer be shown aboard the Disney Magic. The show is continuing aboard the Disney Wonder, but the use of a conversation with a pre-recorded Roy E. Disney has been discontinued. Disney will be substituting a video using Whoopi Goldberg that was last used during the days of the "Save Disney" campaign when Roy had resigned from the company.
…A new "Prince and Princess"-themed menu will replace the Golden Mickeys menu aboard the Disney Magic, as there is no longer a tie to the show.
…During the twelve 5-night Bahamian sailings of the Disney Wonder this summer, Palo will be offering both its Champagne Brunch and High Tea.
…The Disney Cruise Line was recently awarded top rankings in several categories by Zagat. DCL was highlighted for Best Activities, Best for Kids, Best for Families, Top Live Entertainment, Top Nightlife and Best for Weekend Getaways.
An extended spell of cold weather caused damage to the plant life at Walt Disney World. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
It may take some time for the Horticulture Department to repair all of the damage from the cold spell. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
D23, the official Disney fan club, has announced its 2010 event schedule. All of the events announced thus far will take place in or near the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts, so that will limit the value to those living in other parts of the country. D23 Members will receive notification of special events and reservation times via e-mail, and all events are offered on a space-available basis. More details on events, and on becoming a D23 Member, can be found at the D23 Web site (link).
Here is a list of events at the Walt Disney World Resort. For events at the Disneyland Resort and the complete text of the D23 press release, please see this week's Disneyland Resort Update.
The first anniversary party will include a private dinner inside the Magic Kingdom's Diamond Horseshoe Saloon, followed by an exclusive D23 viewing of Mickey’s PhilharMagic. Afterward, guests will hear insider details about the upcoming Fantasyland expansion from Walt Disney Imagineering. The celebration will also feature a sumptuous dessert party, a special commemorative pin for everyone attending, and a host of surprises. More details, including reservation availability and pricing, will be announced shortly on the D23 Web site (link).
More information will also be announced about "Flowers and Fireworks," which will add all-new elements as D23 expands the festivities at the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival to two days; "Sip & Stroll," which will once again take place during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival; and "Magic and Merriment." Other events will be announced in the coming months. For more details on becoming a member of D23 or renewing existing memberships, visit the D23 Web site (link).
Now that the holiday season is over, a crane rises behind Cinderella Castle to take down the Castle Dreamlights. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
There's a new top dining experience in town, and it's attached to the existing top experience. Queen Victoria's Room, located just off the main dining room at Victoria & Albert's at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, offers 10 small courses served during a leisurely three to four hour meal during the single nightly seating.
The four-table room features service utilizing a French gueridon, a fancy rolling cart that goes from table to table for customized service. The formal dining experience requires men to wear jackets (though ties are optional).
This luxury doesn't come cheap, though. The price is $200 per person, plus $95 for wine pairings. The restaurant has its own reservation line, 407-939-3862.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
Animal specialists at Conservation Station prepare to perform an ultrasound and liver biopsy on an 11-year-old gerenuk last week. Gerenuk is Somali for "giraffe-necked," referring to the unique long neck that allows this African antelope to eat leaves off trees. A typical adult gerenuk will reach about three feet at the shoulder with a weight of 80-115 pounds. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
Two female gerenuk calves have been born recently at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Presley was born November 13 to Tupelo and Squirt was born November 25 to Sushaunna. All are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Gerenuk Population Management Plan. Gerenuk can be seen along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
…The Walt Disney Company announced last Wednesday that it will contribute $100,000 in humanitarian aid to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, to be given through the Red Cross International Fund. Many Walt Disney World employees are natives of Haiti or have family from Haiti.
…The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida has been named as the beneficiary of the "Give a Day, Get a Disney Day" promotion tickets that are donated rather than used by Walt Disney World guests.
…During the extended cold snap that saw freezing weather across Central Florida, Disney donated hundreds of fleece coats, sweatshirts, long sleeve T-shirts and turtlenecks, as well as dozens of blankets and even a portable storage unit, to the Coalition for the Homeless. The Coalition was also one of the beneficiaries of the collection of all clothing discarded by runners in the Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon. All clothing discarded along the race route was cleaned and given to local charities, also including Harvest Time International and the Salvation Army.
…A very interesting article about Disney's "next generation experience" initiative comes from Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel (link).
…Disney Parks has released a special Vinylmation figure (link) themed to the 2010 Walt Disney World Half Marathon that you can personalize with your bib number and finish time.
…The Walt Disney Company was one of 17 recipients recently selected by Travel + Leisure magazine for the 2009 Global Vision Award for corporate sustainability. Disney was cited for its pledge to reduce solid waste by 50 percent by 2013, as well as its plans to conserve millions of gallons of water, invest in renewable energy and increase eco-educational programs for students.
…Over on the Atlantic Coast, Sonya's at Disney's Vero Beach Resort was highlighted by Florida Trend Magazine as one of Florida's 500 Best Places to Dine.
…Merlin Entertainments Group, owner of Legoland theme parks and more, has purchased Cypress Gardens, including the Splash Island water park and botanical gardens. This might provide an opportune location for a Legoland in Central Florida. With Merlin being majority-owned by The Blackstone Group, that puts Blackstone in control of Cypress Gardens and SeaWorld, and with a one-half stake in Universal Orlando.
…The long-dormant Holiday Inn on Hotel Plaza Boulevard in the Downtown Disney Resort Area will finally be reopening after years of renovations. The official grand opening is scheduled for February 4, and reservations are available now (link).
Taqueria del Lago will remain open while Cantina de San Angel is closed for refurbishment. Photo by Stephanie Wien.
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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 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:
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).
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.
(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.