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Update for May 10, 2010 – May 16, 2010

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

News and Views

Star Tours fans can attend "Last Tour to Endor" | MousePlanet Meet at the Magic Kingdom this Saturday, May 15MouseAdventure World Explorers return to Walt Disney World in October! | Mickey Mouse chats with guests during Disneyland playtest | Disney's Magical Express welcomes 10 millionth guest | American Idol Experience Dream Ticket winner finishes fifth on TV show | Sounds Like Summer fills last hole in schedule | Correction | Construction update | Quick takes

Star Tours fans can attend "Last Tour to Endor"

Coinciding with Star Wars Celebration V (which takes place in Orlando August 12-15) is an opportunity for guests to have the option of being among the first to be the last to ride Star Tours before its October closure to be converted into a newer version of the attraction. The "Last Tour to Endor" event will take place on August 14 from 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. at Disney's Hollywood Studios.


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The after-hours event (which requires a separate ticket for entry) will feature specially-themed party zones, Star Wars shows, a "Death Star Disco" (which we're imagining as something similar to Star Wars Weekends' "Hyperspace Hoopla") and "Symphony in the Stars," a Star Wars-themed fireworks show. Tickets to the event, which are also be available for purchase by all guests, are on sale now and cost $75 per person.

While the event is called "Last Tour to Endor," the attraction is not closing for refurbishment immediately following the event. It will close, as originally announced, this October.

For more information and to buy tickets, check out the special page on the Star Wars Celebration website (link). Order now, as ticket quantities are limited!

MousePlanet Meet at the Magic Kingdom, May 15

Will you be at Walt Disney World this coming weekend? 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 the D23 Flowers & Fireworks event, 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.


Here’s where the meet will take place. Stop on by! Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

MouseAdventure World Explorers return to Walt Disney World in October!

We have now confirmed the date for the next troop meeting for MouseAdventure World Explorers. On October 9, 2010, MousePlanet will be bringing our popular event to Disney's Animal Kingdom. Pricing has not yet been finalized, though we're working to keep it the same as last year ($175 per two player team + $30 for each additional player). The cost will again include breakfast inside the park before the start of the game. We're still working on the details, but the masterminds behind the game first have to run the 10th Anniversary MouseAdventure game at Disneyland later this month, so it may be a little while before we get more out to you. To make sure that you're among the first to know anything that there is to know, please sign up for our MouseAdventure Walt Disney World mailing list. Get ready to sign up to earn your merit badges!

Mickey Mouse chats with guests during Disneyland playtest

Some guests at Disneyland Park were surprised at their meet-and-greet opporunity with Mickey Mouse at his movie barn in Disneyland's Toontown. When they entered, Mickey spoke to them, asked them questions, and carried on interactive conversations. Mickey displayed the newly-improved ability to move his mouth and blink his eyes. This is just a play test at this time, so there's no indication if or when this will actually become a permanent fixture in the parks.

A Disneyland park guest that experienced the playtest posted some video on YouTube of the event. Many Disney fan sites soon started running links to the video. Soon after that, Disney released a blog post containing the information that it was just a playtest and included the video below.

Disney's Magical Express welcomes 10 millionth guest

Two days shy of its fifth birthday, Disney's Magical Express service welcomed its 10 millionth guest last Monday. Lori Ogurkis of Hazelton, Pennsylvania, and her family were treated to a special reception at the airport, including a surprise visit and gift basket from Mickey Mouse, then got a private ride in their own motor coach to start their vacation at the Polynesian Resort.

Disney's Magical Express provides free transportation for Disney guests and their luggage between Orlando International Airport and Disney resort hotels. The service relieves guests of the need to rent a car or to hire a taxi, car or bus service to transport them. The service now carries more than 2.2 million guests per year.


Ten millionth guest Lori Ogurkis (front) and her family on board their private Disney's Magical Express coach with Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney World Ambassador Vanessa Rosas (right). Photo © Disney.

American Idol Experience Dream Ticket winner finishes fifth on TV edition

Fifteen months after it opened, The American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios can now say that it was the start for a top-five contestant on the television game show itself. The attraction, which opened on February 12, 2009, offers guests a chance to experience the audition and competition process for the show, with several performances by guests each day. The winners of each show return for the day's finale show. The winner of the finale show receives a "Dream Ticket," which is essentially a Fastpass for regional auditions for the TV show.

Aaron Kelly, 17, from Sonestown, Pennsylvania, started out as a contestant in the attraction, won his show and then won the daily finale. Kelly used his Dream Ticket to get a front-of-the-line pass to audition in Orlando. He was selected to appear on the show and made it to the final five contestants before being voted off the show last week. Who knows who may make it from the attraction to next year's edition of the show?

Sounds Like Summer fills last hole in schedule

The last hole in the Sounds Like Summer concert series has been filled by Karin Lawson, who performs a tribute to Janet Jackson. Here is the new updated schedule:

  • June 12-19: Stayin' Alive - A Tribute to The Bee Gees
  • June 20-26: Hotel California - A Salute to the Eagles
  • June 27-July 3: Karin Lawson - A Tribute to Janet Jackson
  • July 4-10: Satisfaction - The Rolling Stones Tribute Band
  • July 11-17: Slippery When Wet - The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute
  • July 18-24: 2U - A Tribute to U2
  • July 25-31: Beginnings - Chicago Tribute Band


Here's a new look at some of the magic that Disney Imagineers are creating for the Disney Dream.

Correction

In last week's "Quick Takes," Julie China staed that the Metro Pub had been renamed 687 in honor of the Disney Dream. In fact, the pub is aboard the Disney Dream itself. Metro Pub had been the working title of the pub, and it has been renamed during the design/build process.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle – restroom rehab on castle mezzanine.
  • Epcot – Chase Disney Rewards Visa photo place package.
  • Epcot World Showcase – dock renovations; electrical work.
  • Epcot American Adventure – 3rd floor renovation.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster – electrical work on station load platform.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – Backlot Express marquee package.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kali River Rapids – metal fabrication.
  • Downtown Disney West Side Cirque du SOleil retail store – renovation of store including new flooring, new fixtures and new doors in storefront.
  • Yacht & Beach Club Convention Center – replacement carpentry on ballast roof.
  • Old Key West Resort entry apron & porte cochere ndash; replacement of concrete.


Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear debuted at Disney's Hollywood Studios yesterday, greeting guests at the Magic of Disney Animation attraction and dancing in the Block Party Bash street celebration. The plush pink teddy bear is one of the new characters introduced in Toy Story 3, which will be released on June 18. Photo © Disney (Garth Vaughan, photographer).

Quick takes …

…Honey, I Shrunk the Audience closed yesterday to make way for Captain EO. After some work on the theater to match the film, Captain EO will open on July 2.

…Walt Disney World has prevailed in the lawsuit filed against by an 80-year-old Philadelphia man who claimed that the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was inherently unsafe. It took a jury about three hours decide that Marvin Cohen had no case in claiming that his 1998 stroke was caused by a ride on the attraction over three weeks earlier.

…After showing a preview on the Disney Parks blog back in April, Disney launched the Disney Vacation Connection desktop widget on Friday. Following the launch, the demand on the download server caused the operation to come to a screeching halt. As of press time, the download site was still reading "We are busy making changes- the download button will be back soon." When the download link returns, you should be able to go to the download site (link) and get the widget, which will provide news, special offers, special events, wallpapers, weather and more to help with planning your next Disney vacation.

…The Pelican Plunge floating water play area at Castaway Cay have reportedly opened a little ahead of schedule. The slides are one of the enhancements currently underway at Disney Cruise Line's private island. The remaining enhancements, including another 700 feet of sand, a new family buffet location, a new beach bar, a new beach rental location and a new merchandise location, are all expected to open by summer.

…Brad Kaplan over at Stitch Kingdom appears to have found a copy of the new theme song for the Summer Nightastic promotion (link).

…The ESPN Wide World of Sports has been designaed as an official viewing site for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The tournament, one of the largest sporting events in the world, is being held in South Africa and will take place from June 11 through July 11.

…The 2011 Walt Disney World Half Marathon is now 50 percent full. If you're not sure whether or not you want to participate, it's time to make up your mind! Register now (link)!

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Coming up

  • March 3 to May 16: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (link).
  • May 21 to June 13: Star Wars Weekends (link).
  • June 12: Expedition Everest Challenge (link).
  • July 14–27: ESPN RISE Games (link).
  • August 27–29: Disney’s Pin Celebration: Trade City, U.S.A. (link).
  • September 14, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, and 30, October 1, 3, 7, 8, 11, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 28, 29, and 31, and November 1. Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party (link).
  • September 5: Trek Women’s Triathlon (link).
  • September 10–11: Night of Joy (link).
  • October 1–2: Disney’s Wine & Dine Half Marathon (link).
  • October 1 to November 14: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
  • November 8, 11, 12, 16, 18, 19, 28, and 30, December 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17 and 19. Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (link).
  • November 11–14: Childrens Miracle Network Classic (link).
  • November 12–14: Festival of the Masters (link).
  • November 25–28: Old Spice Classic (link).
  • December 4–11: Pop Warner Football Championships (link).
  • January 6–9, 2011: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (link).

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Ariel’s Grotto – closed permanently to make way for the Fantasyland Forest makeover.
  • Pooh’s Playful Spot – closed permanently to make way for the Fantasyland Forest makeover.
  • Scuttle’s Landing – closed permanently to make way for the Fantasyland Forest makeover.
  • Baby Care Center – closed for refurbishment May 14–20.

Epcot

  • Cantina de San Angel – closed for major renovation in January and is tentatively set to re-open September 24. Taqueria Del Lago remains open.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Animal Kingdom

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Resorts

  • Pop Century Fast Forward Arcade – closed for refurbishment May 10–13.
  • Yacht & Beach Club Stormalong Bay shipwreck slide – closed for refurbishment May 3–31. Guests at the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts may use the Luna Park pool at the Boardwalk Resort if they wish access to a pool slide during their stay.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort – Paddock quiet pool closed for conversion to new feature pool opening in 2011.

Water Parks

  • McDonald's at Downtown Disney – closed permanently; the location will be converted to Pollo Campero, opening this fall.
  • Blizzard Beach Teamboat Springs – closed through May 15 for refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed May 17–27 and Mondays only June 21 through July 26 for refurbishment.
  • Magnolia Golf Course – closed May 24 through June 3 and Wednesdays only June 23 through July 28 for refurbishment.
  • Palm Golf Course – closed June 1–10 and Tuesdays only June 22 through July 27 for refurbishment.
  • Osprey Ridge Golf Course – closed June 7–17 and Thursdays only June 24 through July 29 for refurbishment.
  • Oak Trail Golf Course – closed June 14–20 for refurbishment.
  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Passholders save 35-45 percent at select Walt Disney World resorts through June

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:

  • Value resorts: 35 percent off (1-3 nights) or 40 percent off (4 or more nights)
  • Moderate resorts: 37 percent off (1-3 nights) or 40 percent off (4 or more nights)
  • Deluxe Resorts: 42 percent off (1-3 nights) or 45 percent off (4 or more nights)
  • Deluxe Villa Resorts: 45 percent off (1-3 nights) or 45 percent off (4 or more nights).

The deal can be booked from now through your day of arrival. The number of rooms available at these rates is 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).

Room-only discount rates available for Passholders and the general public through mid-August

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:

  • Value resorts: 15 percent off
  • Moderate resorts: 20 percent off
  • Deluxe Resorts: 25 percent off
  • Deluxe Villa Resorts: 30 percent off.

The deal can be booked from now through the day of your arrival. The number of rooms available at these rates is 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:

  • Value resorts: 30 percent off
  • Moderate resorts: 35 percent off
  • Deluxe Resorts: 40 percent off
  • Deluxe Villa Resorts: 40 percent off.

The deal can be booked from now through your day of arrival. The number of rooms available at these rates is 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 kids stay, play, and dine free package extended

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 through October 2. 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 June 30. 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 is 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).

“Kids Stay and Play Free” offer for the general public extended

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 general public offer is good from May 2 through October 2 (you must book by August 14).

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 is 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).

Military discount

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 is 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).


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.