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Update for May 24, 2010 – May 30, 2010

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

News and Views

Assault suspect released on $25k bond | Date change announced for Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Lady Foot Locker | Star Wars WeekendsA new Walt Disney World theme park tour | Pelican Plunge | Fifth baby elephant born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom | More Fantasyland Forest construction wall photos | Construction update | Quick takes

Assault suspect released on $25k bond

A judge has ordered a 29-year-old man who was arrested last September for sexually battery against a 12-year-old girl at Fort Wilderness can be released on a $25,000 bond. Jean Garcia, a father of two, will be monitored by GPS, and is prohibited from unsupervised contact with any children, including his own.

According to various news reports, Garcia said nothing during the hearing and looked down when the bond amount was announced.

Date change announced for Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend

Sports enthusiasts planning on participating in Disney's Princess Half-Marathon next year, take note: Disney has announced a date change for its popular 13.3-mile event.


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The event, which for the past two years took place in March, moves up a week in 2011 to the weekend of February 25 to 27. Although Disney has not officially provided a reason for the date change, it may be an effort to find a weekend with fewer scheduling conflicts, since the following Tuesday is Mardi Gras in neighboring Louisiana, which also marks the start of the Lenten season.

While Orlando is typically warmer than the rest of the country, February weather is a little more unpredictable, so participants will want to keep a closer eye on weather.

Disney's Princess Half-Marathon Weekend presented by Lady Foot Locker includes associated events, including Disney’s Royal Family 5K, Disney’s Royal Family Kids’ Races, and Disney’s Fit for a Princess Expo.

Registration begins July 6, 2010.

Star Wars Weekends

Once again, the power of the Force and the magic of Disney have combined for Star Wars Weekends, a science fiction fan-fest inspired by the popular film saga. Star Wars Weekends began this past weekend, and continues to run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday now through June 13 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This year’s events celebrate the 30th anniversary of Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back.

To promote the event, Disney published a series of humorous posters that put  famous Star Wars characters in the Disney theme parks.


Poster © Disney


Poster © Disney


Poster © Disney


Poster © Disney


Poster © Disney


Poster © Disney

A new Walt Disney World theme park tour

A new Walt Disney World theme park tour called “Inspiration: Through Walt’s Eyes” takes guests on a trip through the events and milestones in Walt Disney’s life that inspired many of the details and experiences found throughout the Walt Disney World resort (link).

The tour brings guests to Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to explore Walt’s legacy in Hollywood, including his 59 Academy Award nominations and 26 Oscars. Guests then travel backstage to Event & Decorating Support.  And they get to visit the famous “Utilidor” system beneath the Magic Kingdom which was inspired by Walt’s vision of a multi–layered city.

The three-hour tour is expected to be offered Friday, Sunday, and Monday at 9:00 a.m, and costs $99 plus tax. Theme park admission is not required. Guests must be at least 16 years old. Call 407-WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687) to make your reservation.

Pelican Plunge

As previously reported, Pelican Plunge, the new water slides at Castaway Cay, is now open. The attraction features a 2,400 square-foot floating platform located within swimming distance from shore. Pelican Plunge has two water slides, an enclosed corkscrew, and a 140-foot-long open slide into the ocean. The platform has a giant bucket that dumps water on guests and four water cannons that shoot targets floating in the water. Disney Parks Blog has a fun video of this new attraction.

Fifth baby elephant born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

A new baby elephant was born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Donna, a 22-year-old elephant, gave birth to a 288-pound female calf around 11:30 p.m. last Thursday night.

Right now, Donna is getting to know her calf, gently touching the young animal with her trunk. The next critical milestone according to Disney is for the calf to continue the bonding process with her mother who will teach her important lessons and protect her as she is introduced to the rest of the savanna herd. Baby and mom are in their backstage home, but in several weeks expect them to join the rest of the elephant herd on the Kilimanjaro Safaris.

This is the fifth elephant born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and raises the number of elephants in the Disney’s Animal Kingdom herd to 13, including five males and eight females. Other baby elephants born at Animal Kingdom include:

  • Nadirah, Donna’s first female calf
  • Tufani, a male, was born in 2003
  • Kianga, a female, was born in 2004
  • Tsavo, the youngest male, which joined the herd in 2008

All remain on the savannah at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

More Fantasyland Forest construction wall photos

Last week, Mark Goldhaber posted photos of construction walls across the back of Fantasyland that are blocking off the Fantasyland Forest construction. Here are a few more photos.


A close-up of the explanation of the Little Mermaid attraction from last week's wall photo. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


A close-up of the explanation of the Be Our Guest restaurant from last week's wall photo. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


A close-up of the explanation of the Enchanted Storytelling with Belle from last week's wall photo. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


With construction walls in front of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the Fantasyland Forest across the way, Fantasyland has become Wall World. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The recently-thached roof of Mrs. Potts' Cupboard brings it into readiness to be part of the Fantasyland Forest. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Construction update

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

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Flame Tree Barbeque ice machine replacement.
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort – Commencing site improvements and construction.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster load platform electrical work.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Studio Catering Company mechanical work.
  • Magic Kingdom – Entrance Station lighting enhancements.
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort – Convention Center loading dock construction.
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort – Loop 600/800 bus stop roof work; Main docks on Bay Lake roof work.
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort – `Ohana kitchen prep area plumbing work.
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, Riverside – remove and replace railing and install fall protection system to rooftop on Magnolia Bend building.

Quick takes …

…The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Walt Disney World has hired the deputy chief operating officer from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to oversee its transportation network. Samuel Lau will be responsible for the operation of Disney’s transportation system, which includes the monorail, ferryboats, and bus operations (link).

…Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrated World Turtle Day on May 19, with guests learning about turtles and tortoises and what they could do to protect them and their habitats. Turtle Day activities included games and an up-close look at the turtles and tortoises that make their home at the Animal Kingdom.

…This may possibly be the end to the refillable mug program as we know it. StitchKingdom.com is reporting that Disney has filed a patent for a ‘Self–Service Beverage and Snack Dispensing Using Identity–Based Access Control’ system. (link)

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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

  • 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: Children’s 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).
  • February 25–27, 2011: Disney’s Princess Half Marathon

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.
  • it’s a small world – closed for refurbishment August 1 through October 22.

Epcot

  • Cantina de San Angel – closed for major renovation, tentatively set to re-open September 24 as Hacienda de San Angel. Taqueria Del Lago remains open.
  • Honey I Shrunk the Audience – closed to make way for Captain EO.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours – closed for refurbishment beginning September 8.

Animal Kingdom

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Resorts

  • Yacht & Beach Club Stormalong Bay shipwreck slide – closed for refurbishment through May 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

  • Blizzard Beach Teamboat Springs – closed through May 31 for refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed through May 27 and Mondays only June 21 through July 26 for refurbishment.
  • Magnolia Golf Course – closed 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.
  • McDonald's at Downtown Disney – closed permanently; the location will be converted to Pollo Campero, opening this fall.

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 not but 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 many trips to Walt Disney World starting in 1972, with a few Disneyland trips thrown in for good measure. He is also a Disney stockholder and a Disney Vacation Club member. Mark brings you the latest news about Walt Disney World in the weekly Walt Disney World Update. He also fills you in about behind-the-scenes stories and other points of interest in his World View column and occasionally contributes stories about the Walt Disney Company itself in the Business of Magic column. Mark is an information technology administrator working for the State of New York. He lives in the suburbs outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son.

 



Talk about this article and more, on the MousePad community forums.


(Send an email to Julie China)

Julie China first visited Disneyland in 1974 when she was very, very young. She re-discovered the Disney theme parks during her 1993 honeymoon to Walt Disney World. Ever since then, Julie and her husband have made annual, and sometimes even multiple trips each year, to Disney World. Julie funds her Disney vacations by working as an attorney in Honolulu, Hawaii.