Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update for June 21, 2010 – June 27, 2010
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(Mouse)Adventure is Out There! | Suicide, attempted suicide darken the resort | July 4 pyrotechnics to light the sky | Boy found at fault in fatal bus-bicycle accident at Fort Wilderness | Disney relaxes dress code, gives women right to bare arms (and legs) | Disney's Price Slice golf rates return | Construction update | Quick takes
Are you ready to earn more merit badges for your sash? We've released more information about our next MouseAdventure: World Explorers event, which takes place Saturday, October 9, 2010, at Disney's Animal Kingdom park.
We noted in our June 16 MouseAdventure newsletter (subscribe) that the day begins with a breakfast before park opening at Restaurantosaurus, and concludes with a resort meet later that night to announce the results, with results posted on MousePlanet.com in the following da.
Registration opens tomorrow, June 22, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Cost is $175 for a two-player team, plus $35 per additional player up to a total of four players per team. That registration fee gets you an early morning escort through the not-yet-opened park to breakfast, the breakfast itself, and the fantastic, fun-filled game. It does not include admission to Disney's Animal Kingdom park, which is your responsibility.
For more information about MouseAdventure and this event in particular, check out our MouseAdventure site.
Last Sunday afternoon, June 13, around 3:30 p.m. the Orange County Sheriff's Office responded to a 911 call at the Doubletree Guest Suites resort on Hotel Plaza Boulevard to find a man hanging from a tree in a wooded area near the hotel. The death was later ruled a suicide. The police are not releasing his name pending notification to relatives.
Seven resorts located along Hotel Plaza Boulevard are independently run, but lease their property from Walt Disney World. Each has a long-term lease, and most have been in place since the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971, though most have also changed ownership since then.
In an unrelated incident last Thursday, the Orange County Sheriff's Office was tipped off by Walt Disney World Security that a 46-year-old man who had checked into the Old Key West Resort was known to have indicated that he wanted to commit suicide due to conflicts in his life, and that he potentially wanted to commit "suicide by cop" (where the suicidal person deliberately acts in a threatening way to goad a police officer to kill the individual in self-defense). The man's car was located at the resort, and he was taken into custody by Sheriff's Office perimeter units when he attempted to leave via the back exit. The man was taken to a local facility for a mental health evaluation.
If the Fourth of July is approaching, it must be time for special pyrotechnic displays ("fireworks presentations" to you and me).
What would Independence Day at Walt Disney World be without special fireworks presentations? Special shows are on tap at the three parks that show fireworks (pyrotechnics at Disney's Animal Kingdom would panic the animals, not a good choice). Remember that crowd levels will be extremely high, as this is one of the busiest days of the year at Walt Disney World (especially with the holiday occurring on a Saturday this year). Parks may close their gates early due to capacity, so you should pick your park for the evening, get there earlier in the day, and plan on not leaving before the show is over.
The Magic Kingdom will probably be the most packed, so Disney presents you with the option of seeing the special show a night early so that you can avoid the park on the Fourth. The "Celebrate America Fireworks" will paint the sky in patriotic colors at 9 p.m. on both July 3 and July 4. July 3 also includes a 10:30 p.m. performance of the Main Street Electrical Parade, while on July 4 you can see the parade at 10 p.m. and again at midnight. Park hours on July 3 are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. (with Extra Magic Hours from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.), and July 4 hours are 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.
If you catch the show at the Magic Kingdom a day early (or just want to avoid the crowds), you should have more luck getting in to Epcot or Disney's Hollywood Studios. Over at the Studios, a special fireworks presentation at 9:50 p.m. supplements two showings of Fantasmic at 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Park hours on July 4 are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. (with Extra Magic Hours from 8:00 to 9:00 in the morning).
Meanwhile, Epcot brings out the big guns to present a special patriotic finale (not to be confused with the "glorious three-hour finale" at MuppetVision 3-D) to Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. As Epcot has the largest capacity of any of Disney's theme parks, this is probably your best bet if you're arriving at a park later in the day. In anticipation of the usual huge Independence Day crowds, the park is scheduled to remain open until 10 p.m. (with Extra Magic Hours from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.) instead of its usual 9 p.m., with Illuminations shown at 10 p.m. Earlier in the day, you can enjoy the Voices of Liberty 4th of July Concert—featuring an expanded cast of singers plus the Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps and Disney characters—at 12:30, 1:45 and 3 p.m. on the America Gardens Theatre stage.
If you'd rather watch fireworks from outside the parks (at such popular spots as the beach of the Polynesian Resort for the Magic Kingdom fireworks or the bridge between the Beach Club and Boardwalk Resorts for Epcot), Disney's Animal Kingdom will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., so you can spend a full day there and still make it to a resort for the pyrotechnic conclusion of the evening.
The Florida Highway Patrol has completed its investigation into the death of a 9-year-old boy who was run over by a bus at the Fort Wilderness Campground & Resort on April 1 of this year. Investigators determined that the bicycle that Chase Brubaker was riding had a flat rear tire, and underinflated front tire and misaligned handlebars, which rendered his bicycle to be in an "unsafe condition," causing him to lose control of the bicycle and run into the side of the bus, where he was pulled under the rear wheels of the bus.
The FHP took measurements of the air in the tires, which normally should have been inflated to 46–50 pounds of pressure. Instead, the front tire measured 26 pounds of pressure, while the back tire registered no pressure at all.
The FHP found that the Disney bus driver, 56-year-old David Rich, was not and fault. Rich was not charged, and FHP has closed their investigation. Rich, who was removed from driving duties during the investigation, is expected to return to driving soon.
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts has modified the employee dress code for those not wearing official costumes. Female workers can now wear sleeveless tops, as long as the shoulder straps are at least three inches wide. It also permits them for the first time to wear skirts without pantyhose, a blessing in the Central Florida summers. Also permitted are capri pants (which expose calves), as well as sling-back and open-toed shoes.
For men, the sartorial relaxation permits them to wear casual, untucked shirts (think Hawaiian aloha shirts).
The no-pantyhose part of the policy applies to all employees, onstage and off, where pantyhose is not part of their official costume. All other parts of the policy are aimed at those with backstage roles, where there are no official costumes for guest interaction. The official "Disney look" guidelines are intended to ensure, among other things, that cast members appear friendly and approachable to guests. The policy change took place on May 28.
Disney's popular summer golf discount program, Disney's Price Slice, has returned. Now through September 6, a round of golf at any of the 18-hole Walt Disney World courses is less expensive everyday after 10 a.m., due to the heat of the summer season. The Magnolia, Palm, Lake Buena Vista and Osprey Ridge courses will carry a fee of $59 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., while after 3 p.m. they'll only cost $49.
The rates include the use of an electric cart, greens fees and a pre-round bucket of practice balls, and are discounted from the before-10 a.m. prices of $99 for resort guests/$114 for day visitors (weekends) and $89 for resort guests/$104 for day visitors (weekdays). To reserve a tee time, call (407) 939-7415 or go to the Disney Golf Web site (link). Make sure to ask for the Summer Price Slice discount.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
- Magic Kingdom The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – electrical work.
- Magic Kingdom Space Mountain – complete construction work.
- Magic Kingdom "it's a small world" – complete construction work.
- Magic Kingdom Main Street MO7 – complete construction work.
- Epcot Future World East restrooms – installation of two electrical restroom signs.
- Epcot Future World West restrooms – installation of one restroom sign.
- Epcot Imagination merchandise area – electrical work.
- Epcot Coral Reef Restaurant – replacement and moving of trough drain in kitchen.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster merchandise shop – electrical work.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Flame Tree Barbeque – kitchen modifications.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom building block #2 – concrete, electrical and plumbing work.
- Downtown Disney McDonalds (Pollo Campero) – complete construction work.
- Port Orleans Riverside Resort buildings 24 and 95 – guestroom renovation.
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – signage.
…We now know the dates for the reopening of Star Tour 2.0 on both coasts. The attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios, which closes this September 8, is scheduled to reopen next year on May 16. Disneyland's version of the attraction, which closes on July 27, will reopen a week earlier, on May 9 of next year. Buckle your safety belts and prepare for departure!
…Get your dialing fingers ready! You can start making reservations for the special events of the Food & Wine Festival at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 20.
…Kids ages 17 and under can sail on board the Disney Cruise Line for most sailings from January 23 to March 20, 2011, as long as they're staying in the same cabin at Walt Disney World guest relations. The offer is good on all cabins in categories 4-11, but you must book this offer by July 31. Mention booking code "KFMR." You can book this trip by visiting the Disney Cruise Line Web site (link), by calling DCL at 1-888-DCL-2500, or by contacting your travel agent.
…If yoou're heading for Disney's Vero Beach Resort, the DVC resort on the coast is offering spa treatments in mid-August. The new 1,000-square-foot spa includes a wet treatment room, two massage rooms, a manicure/pedicure room and a relaxation room. Couples massages, kids' treatments and spa products are also available.
…The Disney Institute announced a new one-day training course option on Friday. The new course, which debuts in July, focus on five core topics, comprising Disney's Approach to Leadership Excellence, People Management, Quality Service, Brand Loyalty and Inspiring Creativity. The one-day courses cost $999, though discounts are available. The one-day sessions will also be available at Disneyland, though the three-and-a-half day and five-day programs will continue to only be offered at Walt Disney World. For more information on the courses, go to the Disney Institute Web site (link).
…If you're planning to get married, it's a perfect time to check out Franck's Studio at the Wedding Pavilion. The studio of Disney wedding planners is getting a major makeover, including two new planning rooms, additional computers and televisions, new furnishings and more. The refurbished studio opens mid-July.
…If you'll be at the Orlando International Airport this Saturday evening, be sure to check out the "Sounds of America" concert at 8 p.m. in the atrium of the Hyatt Regency Hotel near the security checkpoint for gates 60-129. If you're flying out of one of those gates on Saturday, you may want to allow some extra time to navigate the additional crowds.
…The 2011 Walt Disney World Half Marathon is 60 percent full, and the Goofy Race-and-a-Half Challenge is 50 percent full. If you're interested in participating in these races, now's the time to sign up! You can register at the official Walt Disney World Marathon website (link).
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- June 6 to August 14: Summer Nightastic! (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.
- October 9. MouseAdventure at Disney's Animal Kingdom (link).
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Via Napoli – new pizzeria under construction, tentatively set to open September 24.
- Honey I Shrunk the Audience – closed to make way for Captain EO.
- Star Tours – closed for refurbishment beginning September 8.
- No currently scheduled refurbishments.
- Saratoga Springs Resort – Paddock quiet pool closed for conversion to new feature pool opening in 2011.
- No currently scheduled refurbishments.
- Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed Mondays only June 21 through July 26 for refurbishment.
- Magnolia Golf Course – closed Wednesdays only June 23 through July 28 for refurbishment.
- Palm Golf Course – closed Tuesdays only June 22 through July 27 for refurbishment.
- Osprey Ridge Golf Course – closed Thursdays only June 24 through July 29 for refurbishment.
- Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
- McDonald's at Downtown Disney – closed permanently; the location is being converted to Pollo Campero, opening this fall.
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).
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.
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(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.