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Update for May 31, 2010 – June 6, 2010

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

News and Views

Disney revamps online dining reservations system | Carrousel gets a new nameNew discount passes available for Florida residents | Food & Wine Festival to highlight "Delicious Discoveries" | Disney Cruise Line teen and tween hangouts to get new names, tween spot to be added to Disney Wonder | Construction update | Quick takes

Disney revamps online dining reservations system

Walt Disney World's online dining reservations system (link) has introduced a new, more flexible system for searching for reservations.


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While it's still in live beta testing, it provides a much easier way to look for reservations. For those familiar with Open Table (link), it's very similar. You provide optional location, optional cuisine or dining experience and optional restaurant name, plus date, time and size of party, and the system will find multiple available seatings at any restaurant that matches your selection.

For example, you can select Epcot as a location and enter a date, time and party size, and the system will return every restaurant that has an available seating within two hours of your selected time, and will even give you a list of restaurants that did not have any openings to ensure that you know which restaurants it checked. Locations include each theme park, the Downtown Disney area and each individual resort.

Check it out and let us know what you think!


Jedi Mickey parades aboard an X-wing float with Stormtrooper Donald in the background during Star Wars Weekends. Photo by Robert Ashburn.


The Fighting 501st Legion of Stormtroopers marches in the Star Wars Weekends parade. Photo by Robert Ashburn.


Aurra Sing marches in the parade. Photo by Robert Ashburn.

Carrousel gets a new name

Effective today, Cinderella's Golden Carrousel is no more. The ride has been renamed overnight, and is now Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. The renaming, for which no explanation was given, does carry a new backstory for the attraction:

Following their fairy-tale romance and happily-ever-after wedding, Cinderella and Prince Charming took up residence in Cinderella’s Castle. With peace throughout the kingdom, Prince Charming had time to practice for jousting tournaments. In the countryside near the castle, he built a training device of carved horses, on which he could practice the art of ring-spearing, a tournament event in which a knight rides his horse full speed, lance in hand, toward a small ring hanging from a tree limb, with the object of spearing the ring. This event was known by various names throughout the lands, but generally came to be called “carrousel.”

The carrousel device drew the attention of the villagers, who wanted to take a turn on this amazing spinning contraption. So Prince Charming had a second carrousel constructed closer to the Castle, where everyone could take a spin on this wondrous invention. Instead of a working knight’s training device, however, this new carrousel is more befitting its regal location in the Castle Courtyard – its rustic training horses replaced with ornately decorated prancing steeds adorned with golden helmets and shields, flower garlands, feathers and other festoons. Prince Charming invites one and all to test their horsemanship skills and to enjoy their own happy ending.

For more on the history of the carrousel, check back tomorrow for this week's installment of Wade's Wayback Machine, which will take a look at the carrousels at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland.


Event co-host Jeremy Bulloch, best known as the original Boba Fett, gets ready to sign autographs. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.


Event co-host Ashley Eckstein, voice of Ahsoka Tano, talks with an adoring fan. Photo by Robert Ashburn.


Movie modelmaker Lorne Peterson signs an autograph for a fan. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.


Sound editor Matthew Wood, the voice of General Grievous, chats with a fan. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.


Tom Kane, voice of Yoda in "The Clone Wars," checks out his alter ego. Photo by Robert Ashburn.

New discount passes available for Florida residents

Florida residents can get a special 3- or 4-day "Play Pass" this summer that provides special discounted pricing and an extended expiration date. The tickets carry an expiration date of 180 days from first use, rather than the usual 14 days. In addition, the Park Hopper and the Water Park Fun & More options can be added separately or together for half of the usual price at $26 each (the Water Park Fun & More option includes the same number of water park visits as the number of theme park days on the ticket).

The 3-day Play Pass costs $134 plus tax ($142.71) for adults and $114 plus tax ($121.41) for children ages 3-9. The 4-day Play Pass will cost you $164 plus tax ($174.66) for adults and $139 plus tax ($148.04) for children ages 3-9. That's as opposed to the regular cost of $219 plus tax ($187 plus tax for children) for a 3-day pass and $225 plus tax ($192 plus tax for children) for a 4-day pass.

Proof of Florida residency will be required to purchase the ticket. For more information, go the the Florida resident page on the Walt Disney World website (link).


An interactive C-3PO character talks with guests as R2-D2 looks on. Photo by Robert Ashburn.


Bounty hunter Boba Fett watches for fugitives from his meet-and-greet location. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.


Bounty hunter Zam Wessell stalks fugitives through the crowd. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp. For a fun look at Wessell and Fett 'capturing' a guest, check out this YouTube video (link).


Ahsoka Tano guides a young Padawan in his battle against Asajj Ventress during the Jedi Training Academy. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.


A Jawa wanders unobtrusively through the crowd at Star Wars Weekends. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.


Evil Sith Lord Darth Vader wonders where he can get some Penne a la Arrabiata during Star Wars Weekends. Photo by Stephen Kiskamp.

Food & Wine Festival to highlight "Delicious Discoveries"

This year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will carry the theme of "Delicious Discoveries." The 15th annual festival, taking place October 1 through November 14, will feature more than 25 international marketplaces, including two new marketplaces – Belgium and South Korea. One of the featured items at the Belgium marketplace will be steamed mussels with roasted garlic cream. Other returning marketplaces will feature new menu offerings.

As always, a series of celebrity chefs will be making appearances. This year's lineup includees Warren Brown, Cat Cora, Jamie Deen, Todd English, Gale Gand, Debbie Gold, Rock Harper, Jeff Henderson, Robert Irvine, Robin Miller, Art Smith and Andrew Zimmern.

The international marketplaces will feature tapas-sized portions of regional specialties for $3-$8, with recommended pairings of wine or beer also available. A festival-themed miniature version of the Disney Gift Card attached to a wristband, will once again be available for loading and reloading to make purchasing even easier.

While many popular events are continuing, such as the beer tastings, wine schools, tequila tastings, food and wine pairings, and the Party for the Senses, there will also be new events. The First Bites Opening Reception, a preview night on September 30, and 3-D: Disney's Dessert Discovery both join the lineup this year.

The new Via Napoli pizzeria at the Italy pavilion and the remodeled and expanded La Hacienda de San Angel (formerly the Cantina de San Angel) will be opening just in time for the festival.

You can call to reserve your spot at the festival's special events that require reservations and separate admission later this year. Details should be available at the Food & Wine Festival website (link) by mid-July. In the meantime, you can call 407-WDW-FEST (407-939-3378 for more information and to make reservations when they become available.


A scrim depicting Italian hills keeps guests from seeing construction work on Via Napoli. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The huge Hacienda de San Angel rises on the former spot of the Cantina de San Angel and former lagoon space. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The Joy of Tea and Good Fortune Gifts make a nice small shopping district across World Showcase Promenade from the China pavilion. Photo by Mark Goldhaber

 

Disney Cruise Line teen and tween hangouts to get new names, tween spot to be added to Disney Wonder

A tween entertainment location onboard the Disney Magic will be coming to the Disney Wonder later this year, and the tween and teen spaces on both ships will be getting new names later this year.

During its drydocking in October, the Disney Magic will see both of its older youth locations renamed. Ocean Quest, the tween hangout featuring computer games and custom adventures, will be renamed to Edge. The teen hangout, The Stack, will become Vibe.

In December, prior to its January repositioning to the West Coast, the Disney Wonder will see its teen hangout, Aloft, be renamed Vibe to match the Magic and the soon-to-be-launched Disney Dream. It will also debut its own copy of Edge at the same time.

Vibe will continue to be located in the forward funnel, while Edge will continue to be located on Deck 2, mid-ship.


Lots-O-Huggin Bear participates in the Block Party Bash parade. Photo by Robert Ashburn.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion – complete construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion – electrical work.
  • Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle – carpentry, electrical and plumbing work.
  • Magic Kingdom resort bus drop-off area – architectural work.
  • Epcot security office – facility modifications.
  • Epcot Imagination pavilion – complete construction.
  • Epcot Imagination pavilion – repair backstage staircase.
  • Epcot Mexico pavilion – repair backstage staircase.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Soundstage 1 – truss and curtain.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Soundstage 1 – electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – carpentry work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Backlot Express – electrical work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kali River Rapids – repair backstage staircase.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris – repair backstage staircase.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Expedition Everest – repair backstage staircase.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom white rhino building – concrete, plumbing and electrical work.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace Hanes building – mechanical work.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace Art of Disney – complete construction.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace World of Disney – electrical work.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace Arribas Brothers – electrical work.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace Food Kiosk – complete construction.
  • Downtown Disney Pleasure Island Raglan Road – replacement of two HVAC units.
  • Downtown Disney Westside AMC retail – electrical work.
  • Magnolia Golf Course – replacement of driving range shed.
  • Old Key West Resort guard shack – electrical upgrades.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort guard booth – electrical upgrades.
  • Port Orleans Riverside guard booth – electrical upgrades.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter guard shack – electrical upgrades.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground security kiosk – electrical upgrades.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort Barbados Building 16 – parking lot fencing.
  • Pop Century Resort – parapet wall coating.

Quick takes …

…The winner of "American Idol" season 9, Lee DeWyze, visited the Disney's Hollywood Studios yesterday, parading down Hollywood Boulevard in a convertible alongside Mickey Mouse and climbing onto a stage in front of the giant television screen outside of the American Idol Experience attraction. DeWyze later appeared on stage inside the attraction to give some advice to contestants.


"American Idol" season 9 winner Lee DeWyze parades down Hollywood Boulevard with Mickey Mouse. Photo © Disney.

…Passengers on the 12-night Northern European capitals cruises aboard the Disney Magic will get a comfort stop during their transfer from the London airports to the Port of Dover if they are using the ground transfer service provided by the Disney Cruise Line. Depending on their flight arrival time at Gatwick or Heathrow airport, their rest stop will either be at in the town of Canterbury or at a large motorway rest stop. The stop in Canterbury will also include a short amount of additional time for sightseeing. Guests will receive additional details aboard their motorcoach when they board for their transfer.

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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 2, 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

  • Saratoga Springs Resort – Paddock quiet pool closed for conversion to new feature pool opening in 2011.

Water Parks

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Elsewhere

  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed 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 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.