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Update for July 12, 2010 - July 18, 2010

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

News and Views

Free dining extended for selected dates through late December | Southwest Airlines offers you a chance to stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite | Electrician electrocuted while working at Wide World of Sports Complex | Via Napoli menu released | Disney Dream to get "Chill Spa" exclusively for teens | Construction update | Quick takes

Free dining extended for selected dates through late December

Walt Disney World extended its free dining offer, originally available through October 2, to run through late December, and although Disney's Web page only lists Value and Moderate resorts for the discount, it is also available at Deluxe and Deluxe Villas resorts, as well. As Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix posted on her blog last Tuesday:


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Walt Disney World just extended its popular Free Dining offer for "select arrival dates" from August 15 to December 21, 2010. The offer has a number of "blockout dates," so you may need to shift your arrival date one direction or another to qualify for the promotion. According to Mouse Ear Vacations travel agent Mary Kraemer, the offer is valid for arrivals from August 15 to October 7, October 22–28, November 12–18, November 27 to December 2, and December 10–21.

To qualify, you must purchase a non-discounted Magic Your Way package (hotel room and length-of-stay admission ticket) for each member of your party. If you book at:

  • A Deluxe or Standard Resort – Receive the Disney Dining Plan: One table-service meal, one quick-service meal, and one snack per day for each member of your party (ages 3 and up)
  • A Value Resort – Receive the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan: Two quick-service meals and two snacks per day for each member of your party (ages 3 and up), plus a refillable mug to use at your hotel.

Since this offer requires you to book a regular-price hotel room and purchase theme park admission, the growing legions of annual passholders and Disney Vacation Club members are (as usual) not eligible for the promotion. Even so, the extention of the Free Dining offer is going to have a major impact on dining availability during what is usually a pretty busy season at Walt Disney World, and means that everyone planning a trip during this period—even if they don't have the dining plan—must plan ahead and make their Priority Seating reservations as early as possible to avoid being shut out at meal time.

While this is great news for those who are looking for these deals, it's not as good news as it was last year. While Disney has not made good on its stated intention of eliminating its reliance on discounts by the beginning of its next fiscal year, it has certainly cut back quite a bit from last year. This year's extension is good on 37 nights, while last year's offer covered 71 nights. It looks like Disney is targeting the deal to specific weeks, perhaps either to gauge the effect of the discount dates against the bookings on the other dates, or to promote dates that have more availability that they are looking to fill. Either way, this can be seen as a dramatic step toward elimination of the large, across-the-board discounts of recent years.

The booking deadline remains August 14.  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 TF5 if booking via the Walt Disney World Reservations phone line (407-939-7918) or through a travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Southwest Airlines offers you a chance to stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite

Southwest Airlines is offering you a chance to win a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite. Enter by this Thursday for a chance to win a Southwest Airlines Vacations package for four to Walt Disney World that includes roundrip flights to Orlando for four; a 1-night stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite in the Magic Kingdom; a 2-night stay at a Deluxe resort; breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table; and 4-day Magic Your Way tickets with Park Hopper options for four. Ground transportation will be by DIsney's Magical Express. You must be able to travel from October 7 through October 10, 2010 to accept the prize.

For official rules, complete details and to enter the sweepstakes, check out the contest's Web site (link).

(Mouse)Adventure is Out There! Join us October 9!

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.

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 week.

Registration is now open! 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 and subscribe to our MouseAdventure newsletter.

Electrician electrocuted while working at Wide World of Sports Complex

An electrician died after being electrocuted at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex shortly after 10 a.m. on Friday while installing a temporary transformer near the facility's main entrance. Steven Snyder, 50, of Davenport, Florida, was pronounced dead after arriving at Celebration Hospital. Snyder, an employee of the Buena Vista Construction Company (the construction arm of Disney Parks & Resorts), was working to supply power to a transformer on a platform near the entrance for an event.

Co-workers and bystanders performed CPR in an attempt to revive him until paramedics from Reedy Creek Emergency Services arrived. An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was retrieved, but it is unclear whether it was used prior to the arrival of the paramedics. The Osceola County Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are investigating the death. Snyder had been an electrician for 30 years.

"Today, we are grieving the loss of a colleague who was killed while working on a project at our sports complex," said Walt Disney World Meg Crofton at a press conference after the accident. "We are doing everything that we can, working closely with [the Sheriff's Department and OSHA] to find out what happened, and when we do find out what happened, we will do everything in our power to make sure that it never happens again. Speaking for all of the cast members here at Walt Disney World, we are heartbroken. Our deepest sympathies go to his family and friends, and his coworkers. And we have reached out to his family to offer our support during this very difficult time."

Via Napoli menu released

We now have an idea of the menu for the new Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria that opens soon at Epcot's Italy pavilion.

Appetizers include Sicilian eggplant with olives and raisins; salad of lettuce, fagiolini (string beans), fennel and tomatoes; arancini (fried saffron risotto balls) with meat ragù, mozzarella and pomodoro sauce; corn-crusted fried calamari; and minestrone with basil pesto. Or share a plate of arancini, mozzarella, calamari, portobella mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini and carciofi (artichokes).

In addition to the pizza, pasta and piatti, there will be a variety of main course salads: manzo (filet of beef) with greens, red onion, gorgonzola, apple and cucumber with a red wine mustard vinaigrette; chopped salad with lemon chicken, greens, cantaloupe, cucumber, red pepper, green beans, onions, almonds and pasta crisps with honey-citrus vinaigrette; calamari with arugula, carrots and fennel with orange vinaigrette.

The pasta dishes feature some familiar and some less-common pasta types: candele (long, tube-shaped pasta) with sausage ragù; linguine with seafood; malfadine (ribbon pasta) with guanciale (unsmoked Italian bacon) and pomodoro sauce; lasagna verde. Of course, familiar veal, chicken and eggplant parmigiana dishes are available.

Of course, what pizzeria would be complete without pizza? These wood-fired specialties are made with caputo flour imported from Southern Italy, San Marzano tomatoes, handmade mozzarella and water from a local spring just like in Italy’s Campania region. The three wood-burning ovens in the restaurant are each named after one of the three active volcanoes in Italy: Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius and Stromboli. They're available in 10-inch personal pizzas, as well as 20-inch pizzas to share. You can order from a dozen varieties, including a pizza Margherita with tomato, mozzarella and basil and carciofi with artichoke, potato, pecorino cheese, prosciutto and cantaloupe.

And what meal at Walt Disney World would be complete without dessert? Choose from tiramisù, zeppole di ricotta (ricotta cheese-fried dough, whipped cream and chocolate sauce); apple cake with almond sorbetti; gelatie; and vanilla gelato with almond cookies and amarena cherries.

Originally slated for late September, it now appears that the location will open some time during August.

Disney Dream to get "Chill Spa" exclusively for teens

Another new feature of the Disney Dream cruise ship has been announced, as the Disney Cruise Line last week released a photo and list of experiences available at the Chill Spa, aimed at guests ages 13 to 17. The teen destination will be located within the Senses Spa & Salon on Desk 11.

Inside the "spa within a spa" will be two dedicated treatment rooms, showers and a separate seating area. Among a full line of teen-focused treatments in the spa are the Fabulously Fruity Facial, Hot Chocolate Wrap, Tantastic Body Bronzer, Surfer’s Scrub, and Ice Cream Manicure and Pedicure.

Construction update

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

  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Oasis swing bridge – bridge rehabilitation.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Pizzafari – improvements to restaurant service counters.
  • Typhoon Lagoon kiddie boatwash area – plumbing work.
  • Typhoon Lagoon cabanas – carpentry work.
  • Blizzard Beach cabanas – carpentry work.

Quick takes …

…Get those dialing fingers ready! One week from tomorrow (that's July 20), reservations open for all of the special events during this year's 15th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Details on the actual events will be posted prior to the opening of the phones. You can call 407-WDW-FEST (407-939-3378) starting at 7 a.m. next Tuesday to make your reservations.

…The Disney Parks online store (link) is offering free shipping on all purchases through tomorrow. Enter promotion code PARKSFREE at check-out and free shipping will be automatically applied to your entire order.

…Star Tours is scheduled to reopen on May 17, 2011. This will get the attraction back online in its new digital 3-D, multiple-destination format in time for next year's Star Wars Weekends.

…Passholders can attend a presentation of information about the new Disney Vacation Club resort Aulani, at Ko Olina, Hawai'i. The presentation will take place at 9 a.m. on Sunday, July 25 at Disney's Contemporary Resort. You'll be able to get a sneak peek at the latest details and see new views of the accommodations, plus find out more about DVC, get a free giveaway, see Disney character, attend a dance party with refreshments, plus get special limited-time offers. Space is limited, so you'll need to sign up at the Passholder website soon to reserve your spot.

…Walt Disney World took over the care of two endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles last month from the Institute of Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport, Mississippi, freeing that facility to make more room to support animals directly impacted by the Gulf oil spill. The turtles are recovering from pneumonia. They were flown to Orlando on June 25, and are being cared for in a backstage area of The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion at Epcot. While both turtles are making progress, it will be several months before they are released back into the wild.

China Daily is reporting (link) that construction on the Shanghai Disneyland Resort may begin as soon as November. Disney has refused to confirm the news, stating that final negotiations are still underway.

…Registration for Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend is officially open (link). The women-focused event is open to runners of all types. Kids’ Races, a Family 5K, health and fitness expo and the half marathon are all Princess themed, and take place February 25-27, 2011.

…The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon is 50 percent full, the Half Marathon is 70 percent full, and the Goofy Race-and-a-Half Challenge is 55 percent full. If you're interested in participating in these races, now's the time to sign up! You can register at the offical Walt Disney World Marathon Web site (link).

…The Inaugural Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon is 86 percent full and the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Relay is 85 percent full. The Kids Races are 55 percent full. Both adult events will take place at the Walt Disney World Resort on October 2 at 10:00 p.m. on a brand new marathon course. For more information, go to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Web site (link).

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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.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment August 16 through August 25.

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 some time in August.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours – closed for refurbishment September 8 through May 16.
  • 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

  • Flame Tree Barbeque – closed August 9 through September 19.

Resorts

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 31 through January 8, 2011 for refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – closed starting 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).

Room-only discount rates available for Passholders and the general public through October 2

Everyone can save 15 to 30 percent off your room rates for stays from August 15 through October 2. Rates vary depending on your dates of travel and the resort category at which you are staying.

For any stay from August 15 through October 2, you get some great discounts:

  • Value resorts: 30 percent off
  • Moderate resorts: 30 percent off
  • Deluxe Resorts: 40 percent off
  • Deluxe Villa Resorts: 40 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 35 to 42 percent off their room rates for stays at Walt Disney World this fall. Rates vary depending on your dates of travel and the resort category at which you are staying.

For any stay from August 15 through October 2, you get some great discounts:

  • Value resorts: 35 percent off
  • Moderate resorts: 35 percent off
  • Deluxe Resorts: 42 percent off
  • Deluxe Villa Resorts: 42 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 SIA if booking via the special reservations phone line for this offer (407-939-7617) or through 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 to 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.

 



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(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.