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Update for June 28, 2010 – July 4, 2010

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

News and Views

Walt Disney World introduces a monthly payment plan for Florida resident annual passes | Inaugural Disney Gospel Choir Fest | Luxury pet resort to open this summer | Disney upgrades Assistive Description Technology Device | Lotso at Block Party Bash | Taste of Africa Street Party | Captain EO passholder preview | Disney unveils luxury residential resort community at the Walt Disney World Resort | Construction update | Quick takes

Walt Disney World introduces a monthly payment plan for Florida resident annual passes

As Mark Goldhaber reported in his blog post, Walt Disney World is following in Disneyland's footsteps to begin offering a monthly payment plan option for local residents to purchase annual passes.

While the plan does not include any interest or finance charges, it does require a down payment equal to the price of a non-discounted one-day, one-park theme park ticket plus tax is required, with the remaining cost of the pass paid in 12 monthly payments. Pass prices range from $148 for an Epcot After 4:00 pass, to $521 for a Premium Annual Pass, which includes the four theme parks plus two water parks.


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The program is available online, but the only option currently available is for new Florida resident passes. For more information about the new payment plan, see the Disney web site (link).

Inaugural Disney Gospel Choir Fest

As part of the Inaugural Disney Gospel Choir Fest, gospel choirs from across America are competing at Epcot on Saturday, September 11, for a chance to perform at Magic Kingdom during the Night of Joy 2010. The festival feature Grammy Award-winning gospel artist Smokie Norful.

The festival showcases performances throughout the day followed by an awards ceremony. Each choir receives a special Disney Gospel Choir Fest Award for participating.

A panel of EMI record executives will judge the choir performances and select the winning choir, which then takes center stage in the Magic Kingdom for a live performance for Night of Joy celebrants.

Special group tickets are available to church groups and congregations wanting to join their choir and cheer them on, and a festival package is available that includes admission to Epcot after the choir performances and admission to Night of Joy.

Choirs can register at the Disney Gospel Gospel Fest Web site (link). Call (407) 566-6652 or e-mail WDW.Disney.Gospel.Choir.Fest@Disney.com for more information.

Luxury pet resort to open this summer

Reservations are now being accepted for a new luxury pet resort scheduled to open on August 27 at the Walt Disney World Resort. The 50,000-square-foot Best Friends Pet Care Resort features air-conditioned rooms, VIP (very important pet) suites, and private outdoor yards. The facility is expected to accommodate up to 270 dogs and 30 cats for both daytime and overnight boarding.

Pet owners can choose from a list of a la carte activities, including bedtime stories with staff, one-on-one play time, social playgroup with other dogs, and ice cream time.


Photo © Disney

The resort features a fenced walking trail bordering natural wetlands, with different play areas, including a 3,300-square-foot area covered in artificial turf, a 4,500-square-foot area with shade trees, and a 1,300-square-foot water park designed for dogs.

Feline guests spend their visits in the Kitty City pavilion, in two- and four-room condos. There will also be a facility for smaller animals, including hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and ferrets.

The resort is located across from Disney's Port Orleans Resort. For more information and reservations, call 877-4-WDW-PETS (877-493-9738) or visit their Web site (link).

Disney upgrades Assistive Description Technology Device


Photo © Disney

Walt Disney World has upgraded its Assistive Technology Device. The 7.2-ounce device, which fits in the palm of your hand, already has detailed audio descriptions of 50 rides and attractions.

The latest upgrade describes outdoor areas for visually impaired guests. Using an interactive audio menu, guests can choose the type of information they'd like to receive, from architectural elements to the location of the nearest restroom. The device uses wireless technology to pinpoint its location and take preprogrammed actions.

The device, which provides audio descriptions, closed captioning and amplified audio, can be activated according to each guest's needs. It is available at guest relations, and is free with a $25 deposit.

Lotso at Block Party Bash

The Block Party Bash at Disney's Hollywood Studios has a new addition to its cast: Lots-O'-Huggin' Bear. Lotso, who made his debut in the recent Disney-Pixar Toy Story 3 movie, is now part of the Toy Story segment of the parade. Disney has released a short video with a sneak peak of Lotso dancing in the Block Party Bash:

Taste of Africa Street Party


The "Welcome to Harambe" sign greets guests in Disney's Animal Kingdom park. Photo by Julie China

The Taste of Africa Street party is set to debut at Disney's Animal Kingdom on July 9. According to WDWMagic.com (link), the event begins every night immediately after Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade, and runs until the park closes. The entertainment offerings include:

  • Music and dance party with Harambe's DJ Khalifa
  • Outdoor vendors selling unique food an beverage offerings
  • Performances by featured musical group, Wasslou
  • Beer and wine tastings at Tamu Tamu Courtyard
  • Authentic merchandise for sale
  • Animal Education experiences with the Harambe Wildlife Team

The Taste of Africa Street Party is scheduled to run through July 24, but may be extended if it proves popular.

Captain EO passholder preview

Walt Disney World annual passholders can attend a special preview of the 3D film Captain EO starring Michael Jackson on July 1 from 3 to 9 p.m. at the Imagination! Pavilion in Epcot. Captain EO returns with a new 70mm print and improved sound.

To attend, passholders must sign up at the Walt Disney World passholder Web site in advance. Registration is limited.

Captain EO official opens to the general public on July 2, a day after the special preview.

Disney unveils luxury residential resort community at the Walt Disney World Resort


Artist rendering of Golden Oak home. Photo © Disney

Ever dreamt of living in the magic? Pre-sales have started for homes in Golden Oak, a luxury residential resort community located at the Walt Disney World Resort. Golden Oak is a community designed by Disney Imagineers.

Named after Walt Disney's Golden Oak Ranch in California, Golden Oak offers single-family custom homes priced between $1.5 and $8 million, with fewer than 30 homes available for sale this year. Home sites will range from one-quarter acre to three-quarters acre. Residents will have access to amenities at the planned Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, including the full service spa, restaurants, golf course and event space.

Golden Oak is anticipated to include approximately 450 homes. The first homes are projected to be completed in 2011. For more information, see the Golden Oak Web site (link).

Construction update

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

  • Epcot Living Seas – complete construction work.
  • Magic Kingdom Emporium – lower canopy roof repairs.
  • Magic Kingdom Fatasyland expansion – Phase 1 (bridge).
  • Magic Kingdom ferry boat landing – complete construction work.
  • Magic Kingdom Liberty Tree Tavern – complete construction work.
  • Disney's Fort Wilderness Campground Outpost bus depot – mechanical work.
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge loading dock, guest parking area lighting, cast parking lot – electrical work.
  • Disney's Yacht Club custodial closet – carpentry and electrical work.

Quick takes …

…Bill Warren, a former Walt Disney World spokesman, has been named Reedy Creek Improvement District's new district administrator. The Reedy Creek Improvement District is a government created by the Florida Legislature in 1967 to facilitate the development of the Walt Disney World Resort and provide a range of governmental services.

…The Orlando Sentinel reports that the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into the July 5, 2009, monorail accident in which a monorail driver was killed will not be concluded until the fall at the earliest. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration concluded its own investigation into the accident earlier this year. Disney was cited for four safety violations and fined $35,000.

…The Orlando Sentinel reports that Walt Disney World has obtained a $15 million building permit to construct the Journey of the Little Mermaid, the Little Mermaid-themed ride at the center of Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland expansion. The permit was issued by the Reedy Creek Improvement District in early March, and covers design and construction work.

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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

  • 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

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.
  • Via Napoli – new pizzeria under construction, tentatively set to open September 24.
  • Honey I Shrunk the Audience – closed to make way for Captain EO.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours – closed for refurbishment beginning September 8.
  • Toy Story Mania – closed for refurbishment August 16 through August 28.
  • One Man's Dream – closed for refurbishment August 16 through November 2.

Animal Kingdom

  • No currently scheduled refurbishments.

Resorts

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed November 1 through January 9, 2011 for refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • 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.

Current Discounts & Promotions

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 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.