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Update for February 1, 2010 – February 7, 2010

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

News and Views

Tables in Wonderland | New Epcot eateries | More Disney Dream details | Mother of killed monorail pilot files suit | La Nouba swaps out acts | New IBM exhibit at Innoventions | A personal appeal | Construction update | Quick Takes …

Tables in Wonderland holding four events this month

Tables in Wonderland, the discount dining program available to Annual Passholders and Florida residents, is hosting four special events in February.


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Carnevale di Venezia, which takes place at the Tutto Italia Ristorante at Epcot's Italy pavilion, provides a special carnival atmosphere February 8 through 16. A special menu will be available on those dates, with Tables in Wonderland members getting 20 percent off of their food and beverage bill. The $19 lunch menu includes a choice of one of two appetizers, one of two entrees, and a dessert. The $29 dinner menu inclues a choice of one of two appetizers, one of three entrees, and a dessert. Prices do not include tax or gratuity, and no substitutions are allowed. You can make your reservation by calling the Walt Disney World Dining Line at 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).

The February Jiko Wine Dinner at Animal Kingdom Lodge takes place in the restaurant's private dining room the Cape Town Wine Room on February 11. The evening starts in the Sunset Lounge at 6:30 with passed appetizers. Dinner starts at 7:00 and will feature modern African cuisine infused with the cultural influences of Europe, India, and Asia. The evening features seven wines, and the featured speaker will be Peter Clinton, President of Vinnovative Imports. The price is $160 per person, including tax and gratuity, and the event is limited to 38 guests. Check-in is between 6:20 to 6:30 p.m. at the back left hand side of the lobby of Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Atlantic Dance Hall at the Boardwalk Resort plays host to a Valentine's Day Chocolate Dinner on February 14 from 6 to 8 p.m., where all courses will have an element of chocolate. For $160 plus tax, but not including gratuity, you get three types of passed hors d'œuvres, a plated dinner with an appetizer, salad and entree, plus a trio of desserts. Beer, wine, and a specialty drink are also included. Entertainment includes a jazz trio. This event is limited to 190 guests.

February's Discovery Dinner at The Wave at the Contemporary Resort takes place on February 25, with a 6:30 reception and 7:00 dinner. The $192 price includes tax and gratuity. Appetizers will be paired with wine during the reception, and dinner will feature a salad, appetizer, entree and dessert, with a wineeach course will be paired with wine. This month's dinner showcases the Central Florida strawberry crop, featuring Lott Farms.

To request a reservation for any of the latter three events, send an email to Tables in Wonderland (link) with your interest in booking, your name, daytime phone number, home address, and the number of people in your party. Reservations will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. You will need to provide your credit card number over the phone at the time of confirmation.

Two new eateries to open at Epcot this fall

As we mentioned earlier, the Patina Group is opening a pizzeria at the rear of Epcot's Italy pavilion. The 300-seat pizzeria is said to be based on Patina's Naples 45 pizzeria in New York City. As water is an important ingredient in pizza dough, water will be imported from a source that resembles the water in Naples, Italy. In addition to pizza baked in wood-burning ovens, the 14,000-square-foot pizzeria will also serve pastas, salads, sandwiches and Italian wines at its indoor/outdoor dining facility. Among other locations, Patina also operates the Naples restaurant in Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort. The yet-unnamed restaurant, which will feature traditional Florentine architecture and vaulted ceilings, is scheduled to open in fall 2010.

Meanwhile, over at the Mexico pavilion, the Cantina de San Angel is undregoing a major expansion, with the new location said to be two stories tall, featuring 400 seats with al fresco lunch seating and an upstairs viewing area for Illuminations. Reportedly, the downstairs dining will be counter-service, while there will be table service on the second floor. The dining location will feature an expanded menu and will continue to be operated by the same group that runs the San Angel Inn Restaurante inside the Mexico pavilion. This restaurant is also scheduled to open in fall 2010.

More Disney Dream details announced

As the maiden voyage of the Disney Dream cruise ship hit one year away last Tuesday, the Disney Cruise Line announced more details about the new experiences that will be available on the upper decks of the ship. Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix brought you most of the details in her blog last week:

To start the one-year countdown to the first public voyage of the Disney Dream, Disney Cruise Line released a few more tantalizing details of the features and services to be found on the new ship:

Goofy's Sports Deck: Featuring a miniature golf course, virtual sports simulators and a basketball/volleyball court. There will also be Max's Courts, two mini-sized courts for little ones to enjoy soccer, basketball or group play. The area will also feature ping pong, foosball and a scenic walking track.

Hot Tubs: On the sides of Deck 11, guests can soak in a whirlpool hot tub while overlooking sweeping views of the ocean. There will be two hot tubs for adults and two hot tubs for families.

Nemo's Reef: A 1,500 square foot interactive wet play area featuring fountains, bubblers and pop jets located adjacent to Mickey’s Pool. Nemo’s Reef is surrounded by a glass enclosure, shaded for protection from the sun and features a soft wet deck surface for safety and comfort.

Quiet Cove Pool: Pool reserved exclusively for guests 18 years and older that features a unique interlocking circular design offering varying depths for taking a dip, sunbathing in comfort and enjoying a poolside cocktail. There is a 4 foot deep plunge pool and a 6 inch deep sunbathing pool with built in loungers and a mister.

Cove Bar: Cove Bar is conveniently attached to the Quiet Cove Pool and allows guests the convenience of ordering and enjoying beverages without ever having to leave the refuge of the pool.

Features previously announced for the upper decks include the AquaDuck water slide flume ride, the giant Funnel Vision LED screen (over 30 feet wide and 18 feet high) that overlooks the Donald Pool, the retractable floor that covers the Donald Pool to provide a dance floor for deck parties, and the Mickey Pool for families (complete with water slide nearby).

Mother of monorail pilot killed in crash last July files suit against Disney

The mother of monorail pilot Austin Wuennenberg, who died in last July's monorail crash at the Transportation and Ticket Center station, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Orange County Court against Disney Parks & Resorts. The suit filed by Christine Wuennenberg largely restates facts already determined and announced resulting from investigations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB). The suit also cites several Disney practices overriding the Monorail Operations Driver Training Guide that have been modified or reversed since the accident. The suit seeks an excess of $15,000. Disney will not comment on the suit until the NTSB investigation has concluded, but in light of the fact that Disney has already been cited for violations by OSHA and fined the maximum allowed for a first-time finding, it is likely that Disney will settle the lawsuit rather than have it go to a jury trial.

Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba swaps out acts

If you've seen La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil enough that you've got the show memorized, get ready to study up on a new change. The chair balancing act will be leaving the show, and will be replaced by a nine-minute act featuring world-renowned juggler Anthony Gatto. The act is titled "cinq-a-sept," which translates to "five-to-seven," roughly means "happy hour," which fits well with the meaning of La Nouba ("to party" or "live it up"). Gatto, holder of 11 juggling world records, has been on the tour of Cirque du Soleil's KOOZA. Gatto will handle balls, hoops and clubs during his act.

Tickets for the show cost $65, $81, $99 and $114 for adults (plus tax) and $52, $65, $79 and $91 for children ages 3 to 9 (plus tax), and are available at the theater's box office, by calling 407-939-7600 or at the Cirque du Soleil Web site (link). Florida residents can get 30 pe3rcent off the regular price for Category 2 seats for shows from now through March 27. Those discounted prices are $58.85 for adults and $47.77 for children.

New IBM exhibit opens at Innoventions

Last Friday, IBM unveiled its revamped presence at Epcot's Innoventions West. The Smarter Planet exhibit features a new Smarter Data Center, an installation that reduces energy costs by up to 25 percent versus an old-technology data center. The computer installation actually provides the processing power to run the exhibit, as well as donating unused computing resources to the World Community Grid to help in various types of medical, humanitarian and environmental research.

The exhibit also features Runtime, a game created by Walt Disney Imagineering, that lets guests create personalized avatars of themselves to run, jump and dance through the history of IBM's computing achievements. Guests can also e-mail a version of the game to themselves.

A matching game lets guests discover the implications of creating a smarter planet, from the use of mobile phones to the use of virtual money to the tracking of food temperatures during shipping.

A personal appeal, for the fifth year

On April 25, I will once again be walking to raise money for the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Over the last four years, largely through the generosity of MousePlanet readers, we have managed to raise over $15,000. This year, let's do something special. My personal goal is to raise $5,000 this year. But you can help in ways other than donating to my walk. This year, for the first time, you can walk with me. Even if you aren't in the Albany, NY area, you can virtually walk with me by joining Team MousePlanet and walking at the March for Babies in your own area. For more information about why I'm walking, or to donate to my walk, please go to my fundraising page (link). To sign up to join Team MousePlanet, please go to the team page (link). Join me and help be a part of saving babies! Let's show how big a heart MousePlanet readers and MouseStation listeners have!

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Sunshine Tree Terrace – removal and replacement of tiles.
  • Magic Kingdom – building and electrical.
  • Epcot Innoventions East Nano Exhibit – installation of interactive kiosks, overhead rigging of projector, sound domes and gp
  • Epcot Canada pavilion – roof coating on movie building.
  • Epcot Germany pavilion – exterior facade repairs.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios New York Street – facades intercom system package.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Catastrophe Canyon – building and electrical, if any.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Backlot Express – building and electrical.
  • Blizzard Beach – building, electrical and plumbing.
  • Downtown Disney West Side – plumbing.
  • Pop Century Resort – minor construction work.

Quick takes …

…The cast parking lot behind Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom closes next Monday evening to prepare for construction on the major Fantasyland expansion that will open in 2012. Since there will be major work going on all the way to the back of the elevated area (remember that the park is built above ground level, with the Utilidor tunnel system running at ground level below the park), the area will no longer be safe for cast member cars. Cast members will park at a peripheral lot, and will travel to the park's main cast entrance at the rear of the park via shuttle bus.

…Work to create a new meet-and-greet location for Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse is expected to begin soon at the Town Square Exposition Hall. Mickey and Minnie need to clear out of their houses in Mickey's Toontown Fair soon to allow for the start of construction on the new Fantasyland expansion.

…You can now get special voicemails from Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse to help you celebrate your Walt Disney vacation. Different messages are available for birthdays, anniversaries and "other" celebrations, and can be scheduled either by mentioning your celebration while making your reservation or when you arrive. To get a preview of the messages, check them out on the Disney Parks blog (link).

…There is now a Walt Disney World Twitter account (link) that provides interesting and helpful information during your trip. For example, recent tweets have provided information that Illuminations cruises were available for that evening.

…The green wall along the last speedramp segment at Space Mountain's exit is finally in use. Across from the "go-away green" wall, monitors now show you with "alien" landscapes digitally inserted behind you.

… Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade at Disney's Animal Kingdom will run at 4:45pm instead of 3:45 through the end of February 2010.

…Stanley Works has become "The Official Tool Provider of the Walt Disney World Resort," with the brand showing up at Test Track; Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show; the Walt Disney World Speedway; and on construction walls around the resort.

…The merchandise kiosk in China at Epcot has been moved across World Showcase Promenade to a location near the entrance to Nine Dragons while a larger kiosk is being constructed in its previous location.The latest addition to the Disney's Animal Kingdom family arrived on January 17. Kendi, the first white rhino born at the park 11 years ago, gave birth to her third baby after a 16-month gestation period. The female calf has not yet been named, but weighed 178 pounds at her first weigh-in when she was just five days old. Kendi and her calf are expected to return to the herd in the theme park in the coming months.

…As we noted last week, Walt Disney World assisted the "Hope for Haiti Now" telethon, with Disney VoluntEARS answering calls and taking donations from the Disney Reservations Center in Orlando. Thousands of Walt Disney World employees are natives of Haiti or have family from Haiti. As a reminder, you can still donate to Help for Haiti at their Web site (link) or by phone at 877-99-HAITI. You can also donate $10 to the American Red Cross for Haiti relief by texting "HAITI" to 90999 ($10 will be added to your phone bill).

…The Walt Disney Company's annual report is now available online (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

  • February 5–7. National Dance Team Championship (link).
  • February  12–14. UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • February  19–22. TwirlMania 2010 (link).
  • February  27. Contest of Champions Nationals: School & Youth Rec Cheer (link).
  • February  27. Contest of Champions Nationals: All-Star Cheer & Dance (link).
  • March 3 – May. 16. Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
  • March 5. Contest of Champions Nationals: Studio Dance (link).
  • March 6–7. Contest of Champions Nationals: School Dance (link).
  • March 7, 2010. Disney's Princess Half-Marathon (link).
  • March 12–14. UCA National All Star Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • April 23–25. USASF/IASF Dance and Cheerleading World Championships (link).
  • June 12. Expedition Everest Challenge (link).
  • October 1–2. Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon (link).

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

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

Epcot

  • Living with the Land – closed for refurbishment through February 5.
  • Cantina de San Angel – closed for major renovation in January for an undetermined period of time. Taqueria Del Lago remains open.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment February 15 through March 27.
  • Studio Catering Company – closed for refurbishment February 15 through March 27.
  • Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – closed for refurbishment February 15 through March 27.

Animal Kingdom

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Resorts

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Water Parks

  • Blizzard Beach – closed January 10, 2010 through March 20, 2010 for refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Downtown Disney Marketplace – closedthrough March 5 for refurbishment.
  • Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through 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).

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 and 10- and 11-night Mediterranean sailings from April 24 through May 26.

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) and Small World Vacations (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.