Walt Disney World is in court defending a lawsuit claiming that the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction is inherently unsafe, and further claiming that it led to a stroke in a then-68-year-old Pennsylvania man 12 years ago. Marvin Cohen, now 80, claims that he suffered a tear in an artery leading to his brain while riding the attraction on March 28, 1998, and that it led to him suffering a stroke 23 days later. His attorneys claim that the ride creates a whiplash effect that can cause serious injury, even to healthy riders.
Disney claims that the attraction is safe for all, and that Cohen's injuries were caused by factors other than the ride. "It is a fun, safe ride for the entire family, no matter young or old," said Disney's lead attorney, Ron Cabaniss of Cabaniss Smith Toole & Wiggins. "If you can withstand the forces of daily activities from going over speed bumps or potholes you won't be harmed by this ride, unless you've got some sort of perhaps pre-existing condition."
This is the first time that Disney has defended an attraction in court, as most other cases are either settled out of court or dismissed.
Will you be at Walt Disney World the third weekend in May, maybe for the D23 Flowers & Fireworks event? Come to the MousePlanet meet at the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, May 15 at 2:00 p.m. at the gazebo just past Aloha Isle in Adventureland! Meet Mark Goldhaber and visit with other MousePlanet readers and MouseStation listeners. We'll have some MousePlanet buttons to hand out, and maybe some hats and classic mini-MouseAdventure packets. If you're attending Flowers & Fireworks, you've got until 5:00 p.m. to check in at the lobby of the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, so there's plenty of time to attend the meet and still check in on time.
The Disney Cruise Line is offering a special "Kids Sail Free" offer on selected Northern European cruises. On the June 12 and June 24 12-night Northern European Capitals sailings, kids ages 17 and under traveling with two full-fare guests in the same stateroom can sail free. This offer is only valid for category 8–11 staterooms and does not include government taxes and fees.
The 12-night itinerary includes stops in Oslo, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; Warnemunde, Germany and St. Petersburg, Russia. You'll also make an additional stop in Helsinki, Finland or Tallinn, Estonia, depending on cruise date.
The number of staterooms available at these rates are limited. To take advantage of this offer, call the Disney Cruise Line Reservations phone line (800-951-3532) or contact a travel agent and reference code KFO. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
The Disney Cruise Line has released a new fly-through video of the new Animator's Palate aboard the Disney Dream, which will set sail early next year.
As Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix reported on her blog last Thursday, the Disney Vacation Club is now offering a new option to members who find themselves just a few current-year vacation points short for their vacation reservation. As of last Thursday, members can pay Disney Vacation Development, Inc., for a one-time assignment of up to 24 vacation points for $15 per point ($13.33 plus $1.67 tax) to complete their vacation. Availability of these points may be limited or suspended from time to time due to demand, and the fee is subject to change.
The points can be used to book stays at DVC Resorts, Disney Collection Resorts, Disney Cruise Line voyages, Adventures by Disney trips, and World Passport Collection resorts. Members can only take advantage of this option once each use year. These one-time-use points may not be banked or borrowed, and are non-refundable and non-transferable.
Purchased one-time-use points are not available for waitlist reservations, and cannot be applied retroactively to existing reservations. The points will not be assigned a "home resort" value, and therefore can only be used up to 7 months prior to arrival.
For more information on the one-time-use points, visit the Disney Vacation Club website (link).
Disney Vacation Club members and other guests in their traveling parties will soon begin receiving reservation confirmations via e-mail when they book their stays, as part of a series of booking system enhancements that are on the way. Members will also be able to manage "travel plans" that include multiple rooms and/or resorts for the entire length of their trip, rather than needing one confirmation number for each room and each resort.
With the new "travel plans," members will be able to have all of their reservations linked into the single travel plan and can manage them all through the one number. This will also let members make dining reservations for the entire length of their stay (up to 10 days) up to 180 days prior to the check-in for the first accommodation for their entire stay regardless of how many reservations may be involved.
Other changes on the way include the ability to use vacation points to make Disney Vacation Club resort reservations online.
Recent changes include the ability to check in to Disney Vacation Club resorts online up to 10 days prior to arrival.
Disney Vacation Club members staying at participating accommodations may request "Relaxed Yet? Dollars" from the lobby concierge or club level concierge. The "dollars" are valid for a $15 or $50 credit toward the purchase of select massage and spa services at the various Walt Disney World spas and fitness centers throughout the property. Each certificate has the list of eligible services printed on it. One certificate must be presented for each person receiving services, and the services are not valid at the Mandara Spa at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel.
You can get your "dollars" at the Animal Kingdom Lodge & Villas, Boardwalk Inn & Villas, Yacht & Beach Club Resorts and Beach Club Villas, Contemporary Resort, Bay Lake Tower, Coronado Springs Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Old Key West Resort, Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa (including the Treehouse Villas), Polynesian Resort, Wilderness Lodge and Villas at Wilderness Lodge.
One thing to be aware of, though. These certificates can't be combined with other discount. This means that, in some cases, your Disney Vacation Club member discount (or annual pass discount) may give you a better deal than the certificate, so check the numbers before you decide to use the "dollars."
Tables in Wonderland, the discount dining program available to Annual Passholders and Florida residents, is hosting four special events in April and May.
Tables in Wonderland members may attend a special Mother's Day Brunch in the Living Seas Salon, the private room located on the second floor the The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion. The event takes place on Mother's Day, May 9, with two seatings from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. The price of $95 per person plus tax and gratuity includes "Under the Sea Garden" meal with a special private view of the 5.7 million gallon aquarium. The meal includes appetizer, salad and entree, with a variety of desserts, plus mimosas, magnolias and other beverages. The event is limited to 108 guests per seating.
The Jiko Wine Dinner at Animal Kingdom Lodge takes place in the restaurant's private dining room, the Cape Town Wine Room, on May 6. The evening starts with a reception in the Sunset Lounge at 6:30 with passed appetizers, and the six-course dinner starts at 7:00. The evening features seven wines, and the featured speaker will be Pippa Mickleburgh, General Manager of Avontuur Winery. The price is $160 per person, including tax and gratuity, and the event is limited to 36 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.
To request a reservation for any of the 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 must provide your credit card number over the phone at the time of confirmation.
The Sounds Like Summer concert series brings tribute bands to the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot from June 12 through July 31. This year will see seven bands performing either 7 or 8 days. Here's the rundown so far:
The concerts are included in the cost of admission to Epcot. Showtimes are 5:45 p.m., 7:00 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. every day.
While D-Street has been open to the public since the Passholder preview on April 3, the store held its official opening on Friday. Here's a look at what the store offers inside. Video by Disney.
Mickey Mouse showed off some hip-hop moves at the opening of D-Street on Friday. Check it out in the video from Disney.
This coming Sunday, 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. My first son was born far too early, and did not make it home from the hospital. My second son was also born too early, but thanks to medication, therapies and treatments developed under grants from the March of Dimes helped him to survive and come home. He's 11 years old now. I want to help more parents to have the experience that I had with my second son, not my first son.
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 more ways than just 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 help to make sure that new parents bring their babies home from the hospital and not to the cemetery.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…Disney has been experimenting with shifting counter service crowds away from peak eating times through the use of limited time coupons distributed as guests enter the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios. The current round of coupons are valid through today, April 19. The Studios coupon offers guests Buy-One-Entree-Get-One-Free at ABC Commissary, Backlot Express and Studio Catering Company when purchased before 11:30 a.m. or between 3:00–4:00 p.m. The Magic Kingdom coupon offers guests 20 percent off with the purchase of any entree at Pinocchio Village Haus, Columbia Harbour House, Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe before 11:30 or between 2:30–4:30 p.m. Coupons are not valid in conjunction with the Disney Dining Plan. Let us know if you receive one of these coupons on your visit.
…Disney's Animal Kingdom celebrates Earth Day on Thursday with a number of special activities. The theme park, which opened on Earth Day in 1998, will have a special welcome from Jiminy Cricket inside the turnstiles (from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.), several activity stations throughout the park featuring Earth-friendly games, and special entertainment. "Party central" will be at Rafiki's Planet Watch, which will have all sorts of fun and games (plus, Jiminy Cricket will be there starting at 2 p.m.) and PIPA the talking recycling bin will be there every 50 minutes from 11:20 a.m. to 2:40 p.m.. Gi-Tar Dan will be performing intermittently between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Rafiki's Planet Watch and 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Camp Minnie-Mickey.
…If you've enjoyed what Chef Tim Keating has been doing at Flying Fish Cafe since he replaced Jens Dahlmann, there's a new opportunity to enjoy it even more. The first six seats at the "Chef's Counter" in front of the on-stage kitchen are now reserved for the new Chef's Tasting Wine Dinner, a five-course meal paired with wine that features whatever Keating and his team of chefs devise for the night, paired with wines by Sommelier Keith Gimbel. The meal costs $135 (or $85 without the wine). There are two seatings nightly Sunday through Thursday, at 5:45 p.m. and 8:15 p.m., with some blackout dates at peak travel periods. Reservations can be made through the Walt Disney World Dining Line, 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).
…The Best Friends Pet Resort, under construction across the road from the Port Orleans Resort, is scheduled to open late this summer. The resort will provide accommodations for up to 270 dogs, 30 cats, and an unspecified number of "pocket pets" (hamsters, birds, etc.). Dog accommodations include standard and luxury suites, some with private outdoor patios and play yards, while the "Kitty City" pavilion for cats will include two- and four-story cat condos. "Pocket pets" are accommodated in a separate room. The new facility will have over 17,000 square feet of air-conditioned indoor space and 10,000 square feet of covered outdoor recreation facilities. When the pet resort opens, Disney will close all of its five existing pet care facilities, at the entrances to the theme parks and at the Fort Wilderness Resort. The new resort will be available to pets of both resort guests and those staying off-property.
…This past weekend, video gamers made the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex their home, as the Major League Gaming Pro Circuit season got underway at the complex's Jostens Center. With more than 2,000 players and 8,000 spectators in attendance, there were autograph sessions, product demonstrations and contests to keep them busy between competitions at the three-day event. There's over $700,000 is total prize money over the course of the five-event season. The season continues in Columbus, Ohio; Raleigh, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas and a finals site to be announced.
…The studio accommodations at Disney Vacation Club resorts have gotten a name change, and are now called "Deluxe Studio" accommodations. DVC says that the change is to better represent the size and quality of the rooms, and to better reflect the fact that they are in the Deluxe Resort category. Of course, the studios at the Animal Kingdom Villas' Jambo House are called Studio - Value accommodations, so that doesn't quite reflect the Deluxe Resort that they are located in. Maybe it's to help rent the rooms through the regular reservations system when they aren't booked by DVC members.
…Disney Vacation Club's Vero Beach Resort has upgraded its pool towels and stocked them in the Vacation Homes instead of at the pool. This means that pool towels will not be available at the pool or on the beach, except for a one-for-one exchange basis. Pool towels can also be exchanged by contacting Housekeeping for delivery to a vacation home or during regularly scheduled housekeeping.
…If you're planning to attend the 2010 Disney Vacation Club Condominium Association Meeting, set your calendar for December 9. The time and location will be announced later.
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Passholders can save 35 to 45 percent off their room rates for stays through June 3. Rates vary depending on your dates of travel and the resort category at which you are staying.
For any stay from now through June 3, you get some great discounts:
The deal can be booked from now through your day of arrival. The number of rooms available at these rates are limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Passholder web site (link) or by using code QIJ if booking via the special reservations phone line for this offer (407-939-1303) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
Everyone can save 15 to 30 percent off your room rates for stays from May through mid-August. Rates vary depending on your dates of travel and the resort category at which you are staying.
For any stay from May 2 through August 14, you get some great discounts:
The deal can be booked from now through the day of your arrival. 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 ID6 if booking via the Walt Disney World Reservations phone line (407-939-7515) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
If you're a Passholder, you can get even deeper discounts. Passholders can save 30 to 40 percent off their room rates for stays at Walt Disney World this summer. Rates vary depending on your dates of travel and the resort category at which you are staying.
For any stay from June 3 through August 14, you get some great discounts:
The deal can be booked from now through your day of arrival. The number of rooms available at these rates are limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Passholder web site (link) or by using code KD5 if booking via the special reservations phone line for this offer (407-939-5684) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
Disney Rewards Visa cardholders can take advantage of an exclusive offer when they purchase a 4-night/5-day Magic Your Way Vacation that includes room, theme park tickets and the Quick Service Dining Plan for most nights between March 14 and August 14. When you purchase the package, kids (ages 3-9) will receive 5-day theme park tickets and the Quick-Service Dining Plan for free. This discount must be booked by April 24. Reservations may be made by using code OD3. Deposit must be made at the time of booking with your Disney Rewards Visa credit or debit card.
The number of rooms available at these rates are limited. To reserve a package, call the Walt Disney World Reservations phone line (407-939-7607) or contact a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
The "Kids Stay, Dine and Play Free" offer that has been available to Disney Rewards Visa cardholders has now been extended to the general public, but without the "Dine" part of the offer. Additionally, the "stay" portion of the deal really doesn't have much value, since the cost of the room doesn't change whether there are kids in the room or notbut the free park passes may provide some needed relief in your travel budget.
The new offer also has a much shorter valid timeframe. The Disney Rewards Visa offer is good from now through August 14 (though you must book by April 24), while the general public offer is only good from May 2 through June 3 (though you have until May 8 to book it.
In the new offer, kids ages 3-9 staying in the same room as an adult (limit four guests per room) can get free standard Magic Your Way passes for the length of the vacation package. Reservations may be made by using code BF4.
The number of rooms available at these rates are limited. To reserve a package, you can book online (link), call the Walt Disney World Reservations phone line for this offer (407-939-7905) or contact a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
Active and retired U.S. Military personnel can save up to 40 percent on rooms at select Disney resorts for most nights through September 30. This discount must be booked by July 31. Reservations may be made by using code OUQ (room only), OUR (with Quick Service Dining Plan), OUS/OUT (with regular Dining Plan), or OUU (with Deluxe Dining Plan).
The number of rooms available at these rates are limited. To reserve a room with the Military discount, call the Walt Disney World Reservations phone line (407-939-7607) or contact a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
(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.