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Update for September 13 – 19, 2010

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News and Views

Rumor: River Country to be razed for DVC resort? | Disney World Moms Panel search takes place this week | Candlelight narrator schedule almost complete | The Benefit Sale to provide discounts, benefit charity | Flower Power schedule already filling up | Construction update | Quick takes

Rumor: River Country to be razed for DVC resort?

Recent reports of Disney executives tromping around the site of the closed River Country water park and more recent reports of Imagineers in the same area have led to rumors of new resort development. Screamscape is reporting (link) that a new Disney Vacation Club resort will be built between Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge, causing River Country and the current Tri-Circle-D Ranch to be leveled. The ranch would be relocated nearby.


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The new resort would be based on the old plans for the Wilderness Junction Resort (also called the Buffalo Junction Resort) that was originally planned for construction during the Disney Decade. The Wilderness Junction Resort was originally to include a 600-room resort along the shore of Bay Lake and was to have been connected to the Wilderness Lodge and Fort Wilderness by a rebuilt Fort Wilderness Railroad, but the railroad is not expected to be part of the new construction (if the construction does indeed happen).

The Wilderness Junction was to have resembled the Hotel Cheyenne of Disneyland Paris (link), with a copy of Disneyland Paris' Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show (link) running nearby. Screamscape reports that the resort would open in 2013 or 2014.


View Larger Map
There's plenty of room for a new resort to be built where the rumored DVC resort would go. Map by Google Maps.

We do not, as yet, have independent confirmation of this rumor, but it sounds quite interesting. We'll see what we can dig up.

Disney World Moms Panel search takes place this week

Are you a Disney trip planning expert? Do you plan trips for everyone that you know? The Walt Disney World Moms Panel is looking for you! The application process for the Moms Panel opens this morning at 9 a.m. EDT and runs through Friday.

The panel is looking to add more moms (and dads) this year, and you could be one of them! You don't have to be a mom to be a member; in fact, you don't even have to have kids! If you're an expert Disney trip planner, you can sign up. In fact, here's the list of requirements to be a Moms Panel member. You must:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Have access to a computer and an Internet connection.
  • Be familiar with Walt Disney World Resort and have visited at least once in the last 12 months.
  • Be fluent in the English language.
  • Complete at least 25 written responses per week.
  • Provide your opinions and feedback.
  • Submit an autobiography and personal photo and/or video to be posted online.
  • Be available to travel to Walt Disney World Resort from December 10–13, 2010
  • Be willing to participate for up to 24 months.
  • Not be current employees/Cast Members of The Walt Disney Company or any of its subsidiaries, must not be immediate family members of a current employee/Cast Member of The Walt Disney Company or any of its subsidiaries, and must not currently reside with a current employee/Cast Member of The Walt Disney Company or any of its subsidiaries. In addition, participants must not be employees, contractors, advisors or consultants for, must not hold more than a de minimis ownership interest in, and must not serve on the Board of Directors of, any entity (other than The Walt Disney Company or any of its subsidiaries) which owns or operates any hotel, resort or theme park located in Orange, Osceola, Lake or Seminole Counties, Florida.
  • Not be currently employed in the travel or theme park industries, and not be an immediate family member of, or currently reside with, people currently employed in the travel or theme park industries.

What do you think? Ready to apply? Go to the Moms Panel Web site (link) and sign up. And don't forget to stop by our discussion forums and let us know how it works out.

Candlelight narrator schedule almost complete

The schedule of narrators for this year's Candlelight Processional at Epcot (a reading of the Biblical Christmas Story by a celebrity narrator, backed by a 50-piece orchestra and a 400-voice massed choir) continues to firm up. The only remaining open slot is the Monday through Wednesday after Thanksgiving. Of course, as always, the schedule is subject to change. Here's the schedule as it currently stands:

  • November 26–28: Isabella Rossellini
  • November 29 to December 1: TBD
  • December 2–4: Frank Langella
  • December 5–6: Ed Asner
  • December 7–9: Jodi Benson
  • December 10–11: Whoopi Goldberg
  • December 12–15: Steven Curtis Chapman
  • December 16–18: Thomas Gibson
  • December 19–21: Trace Adkins
  • December 22–23: Brad Garrett
  • December 24–27: Edward James Olmos
  • December 28–30: Marlee Matlin/Jack Jason

Performances are held three times nightly (at 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15), running the night after Thanksgiving through the night before New Year's Eve at the American Gardens Theatre across from The American Adventure.


The view from aloft aboard Dumbo the Flying Elephant gives a good look at the Fantasyland construction site. Photo by an anonymous Disney fan.


A closer look at the photo shows a great deal of earth-moving equipment and other vehicles on the job site. Photo by an anonymous Disney fan.


The construction area stretches from behind Dumbo all the way to behind Mickey's Toontown Fair. Photo by an anonymous Disney fan.

The Benefit Sale to provide discounts, benefit charity

A special discount sale will be taking place at Downtown Disney early in the morning of Saturday, November 6, from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. The Benefit Sale is a special way to get big bargains on Disney theme park merchandise while helping out the local community. In order to participate in the sale, you must purchase a Benefit Sale Voucher from the Heart of Florida United Way (link) or a participating local partner agency.

If your voucher is purchased from a partner agency, $4 will go to the agency and $1 will go to the United Way. If you purchase directly from the United Way, they will receive the entire $5. Vouchers are required for all shoppers age 13 and over.

On the morning of the sale, you will exchange the voucher for a The Benefit Sale Wristband, which will then let you enter participating stores during the sale. You'll find discounts of up to 50-75 percent on select items, special doorbuster idema, surprise markdowns and more. Participating locations include World of Disney, Once Upon a Toy, Tren-D, Disney Days of Christmas, D Street, Disney Pin Traders and more.

In addition, select fragrance and beauty specialists from Epcot World Showcase such as Dior, Pucci, Acqua di Parma & Guerlain, Givenchy will be on hand to provide more special offers and gifts with purchase.

The special Web site for the sale (link) will be updated on Friday to list many of the special deals that will be available. A link will also be added to the site to allow you to purchase your voucher directly from the United Way.

Flower Power schedule already filling up

The 18th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will take place from March 2 through May 15, 2011, and some of the slots for the Flower Power Concert Series are already filling up, according to Steve Soares' Walt Disney World Live Entertainment Web site (link). Here's what's in store so far:

  • March 4–6: Jose Feliciano
  • March 11–13: TBD
  • March 18–20: Chubby Checker & The Wildcats
  • March 25–27: TBD
  • April 1–3: TBD
  • April 8–10: Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.
  • April 15–17: TBD
  • April 22–24: The Nelsons
  • April 29 to May 1: Paul Revere and the Raiders
  • May 6–8: Davy Jones
  • May 13–15: Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone

Performances are held three times nightly (at 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15) on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights during the festival at the American Gardens Theatre across from The American Adventure. This is the third year that the schedule has been cut back to weekends-only from the previous nightly concerts. Jose Feliciano is once again leading off the series, with Davy Jones again taking the Mother's Day Weekend slot. Chubby Checker and the Wildcats, The Nelsons, Paul Revere and the Raiders and Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone also return from last year.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom toll plaza – completion of construction.
  • Transportation & Ticket Center East Gate building – restroom rehabilitation.
  • Magic Kingdom Main Street Train Station – relocation of drains.
  • Magic Kingdom Mad Tea Party – roofing work.
  • Magic Kingdom Main Street buildings MO7, MO8 – completion of construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe – completion of construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Liberty Square Christmas Shop – completion of construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion – completion of construction.
  • Epcot – Kodak brand removal graphics package.
  • Epcot Fountainview Cafe – movement of sink and counter.
  • Epcot Mexico pavilion – completion of construction.
  • Epcot Refreshment Port – completion of construction.
  • Epcot UV Fountain – completion of construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster – electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Animation Theater, MuppetVision Theater, One Man's Dream theater – auxiliary heating unit replacement.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Hollywood Brown Derby, Studio Commissary, Soundstage Restaurant, Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant – auxiliary heating unit replacement.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster – auxiliary heating unit replacement.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios One Man's Dream – completion of construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios left block, center block, right block – completion of construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Backlot Shuttle – completion of construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Playhouse Disney – completion of construction.
  • Typhoon Lagoon parking lot – concrete sidewalk installation.
  • Downtown Disney Town Hall – completion of construction.
  • Downtown Disney Once Upon A Toy – completion of construction.
  • Downtown Disney Pleasure Island boat dock – completion of construction.
  • Downtown Disney Art of Disney – completion of construction.
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex – Sports Grill Cafe desk and Playstation truss removal.
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex The Milk House – plumbing work.
  • Palm Golf Course driving range and tee boxes # 3, 5, 11, 13, 17 – plumbing work.
  • Magnolia Golf Course tee boxes # 6, 8, 17 – plumbing work.
  • Contemporary Resort main tower building – mechanical work.
  • Boardwalk Resort Convention Center porte cochere – installation of door operators.
  • Beach Club Resort – completion of construction.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter – completion of construction.

Quick takes …

…La Hacienda de San Angel and La Cantina de San Angel at Epcot's Mexico pavilion will open and reopen, respectively, on Thursday. La Hacienda will open daily at 4 p.m. through park closing for dinner, while La Cantina will be open from 11 a.m. through park closing. Reservations for La Hacienda will become available later this month for dining dates beginning on October 15. The restaurants will host a press event on Wednesday before opening to the general public.

…The Trail's End Restaurant (previously called the Trail's End Buffeteria) is taking advantage of its name change by removing the buffet for lunch (breakfast and dinner will remain buffet style). The a la carte menu includes the popular chili and fried chicken, and adds sauteed catfish, spicy grilled shrimp, Andouille sausage and grilled pork chop. Desserts include a warm sticky bun sundae and a no-sugar-added option, as well.

…Looking to expand the menu at The Lunching Pad in Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland, Disney has added three "designer hot dogs" to the menu. A taco hot dog with ground beef, lettuce, salsa and sour cream is now available, as are two types of "reuben hot dogs." One type comes with beef, onions, peppers and melted cheese (not traditional reuben ingredients, perhaps leading to some confusion), while the other is made with traditional reuben ingredients: corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing. It's uncertain whether these are permanent additions to the menu or how popular they'll be, but if you're in the Magic Kingdom and try one of these, let us know what you think of them.

…This year's first running of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party will be held on Tuesday night. The hard-ticketed event will be held on 24 nights between now and November 1. There will be parties on October 7, 8 and 11, so if you're going to be around for MouseAdventure on October 9, there are convenient nights for you.

…After nearly 28 years, Eastman Kodak has cut loose their sponsorship of Epcot's Imagination pavilion, also dropping their sponsorship of the Disneyland theater that is currently hosting Captain EO. This doesn't spell the end of Kodak's relationship with Disney, though. The company still sponsors Mickey's PhilharMagic at the Magic Kingdom, as well as the "Kodak Picture Spots" throughout the theme parks (and therefore in the park maps as well). Signage is being changed to eliminate references to Kodak at the Imagination pavilion, per construction permits filed with the Orange County Comptroller. Kodak had sponsored the pavilion since it first opened on October 1, 1982.

…Starting in the middle of this month, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh will stop offering FastPass until it reopens from refurbishment on November 15. The attraction will close for refurbishment on October 25.

…Disney Parks & Resorts President of Worldwide Operations Al Weiss has been named to a spot on the new U.S. Corporation for Travel Promotion, a new publicly funded organization that will promote tourism overseas. The corporation will be will take money raised from a fee charged to visitors to the U.S. that do not need a visa to visit and will use the money to promote tourism in the U.S. to overseas travelers.

…The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon is 65 percent full, the Half Marathon is 77 percent full, the Goofy Race-and-a-Half Challenge is 70 percent full, and the Disney Family Fun Run 5K 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 web site (link).

…The Inaugural Disney Wine & Half Marathon and the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Relay have both reached capacity. The Kids Races have also reached capacity and the Mickey's Halloween Family Fun Run 5K is 80 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 or to register, go the ESPN Wide World of Sports Web site (link).

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Coming up

  • 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 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).
  • January 14-17, 2011: UCA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship (link).
  • February 11-15, 2011: UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • February 25-27, 2011: Disney’s Princess Half Marathon (link).
  • March 1-31, 2011: Atlanta Braves Spring Training (link).
  • March 3-6, 2011: ESPN The Weekend (link).
  • March 12-13, 2011: UCA National All-Star Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • April 28 - May 2, 2011: USASF Cheerleading and Dance Worlds (link).
  • March 2 to May 15, 2011: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

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 to October 22.
  • Storytime with Belle – had its last performance on September 12. Will be replaced with a new “play and greet” with Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Tangled starting October 15.
  • The Mad Tea Party – closed for refurbishment September 26 to November 11.
  • Pooh's Thotful Shop – closed for refurbishment October 25 to November 7.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – closed for refurbishment October 25 to November 14.
  • Astro Orbiter – closed for refurbishment December 5-9.

Epcot

  • Cantina de San Angel – closed for major renovation, set to soft-open with a press event on September 15 and to the public on September 16 as two restaurants, both the returning Cantina de San Angel and the new Hacienda de San Angel. Taqueria Del Lago remains open.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours – closed for refurbishment September 8, 2010 through May 16, 2011.
  • One Man's Dream – closed for refurbishment August 16 through November 2.
  • "High School Musical 3: Senior Year – Right Here! Right Now!" – final performance October 2; "Disney Channel Rocks!" begins performances October 22.

Animal Kingdom

  • Flame Tree Barbeque – closed through September 25.
  • Beastly Bazaar – closed for refurbishment September 5 to October 2.

Resorts

  • Saratoga Springs Resort – Paddock quiet pool closed for conversion to new feature pool opening in 2011.
  • 'Ohana – closed from January 17-20, 2011, re-opens for dinner on January 20.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 31, 2010 through January 8, 2011 for refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – closed January 9, 2011 through March 19, 2011 for refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • 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 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), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

If you're a Annual 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), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Free dining through September 29, 2011

Free dining is back, with the same split-level implementation as has been the case recently. Those staying at value resorts will get the Quick Service Dining Plan for free, while those in moderate, deluxe and deluxe villa accommodations will get the standard Disney Dining Plan for free. Free dining is available on select dates from this October through next September:

  • 2010
    • October 1-7
    • October 22-28
    • November 12-18
    • November 27 to December 2
    • December 10-21
  • 2011
    • January 1-5
    • January 9-13
    • January 21 to February 3
    • February 11-17
    • February 25 to March 3
    • May 27 to June 2
    • August 19 to September 29

You must book free dining by December 20. The 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 Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7926, or your travel agent and using booking code NL7. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Room only discounts through February 16, 2011

Room-only reservation discounts are available for selected nights from October through mid-February. Guests receive discounts of 25 percent at value resorts, 30 percent at moderates, 25-40 percent at deluxes (varies by resort) and 40 percent at deluxe villa resorts. Discounts are available:

  • October 3 to November 23
  • November 27 to December 25
  • January 1 to February 16

You must book this discount by November 21. The 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 Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7926, or your travel agent and using booking code AK9 for 2010 reservations and MM2 for 2011 reservations. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Free Disney Gift Cards through February 16, 2011

If you book a room-and-ticket package and would prefer a Disney Gift Card to free dining or a room discount, you can get a $500 gift card for stays of 5 or more nights at deluxe or deluxe villa resorts, $300 for moderate resorts or $200 for value resorts on a non-discounted Magic Your Way room and ticket package. This offer is valid for the same dates as the room-only discounts:

  • October 3 to November 23
  • November 27 to December 25
  • January 1 to February 16

You must book this discount by November 21. The 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 Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7926, or your travel agent and using booking code ZH9. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Passholder discounts through December 25, 2010

Passholders can save 30 to 42 percent off their room rates for stays at Walt Disney World from October through the end of the year. Rates vary depending on your dates of travel and the resort category at which you are staying.

For any stay from October 3 through December 25 (except for the Thanksgiving weekend of November 24-26), you get some great discounts:

  • Value resorts plus Animal Kingdom Lodge – 30 percent off
  • Moderate resorts, including Fort Wilderness Cabins, plus Grand Floridian Resort – 35 percent off
  • Remaining Deluxe Resorts – 42 percent off
  • Deluxe Villa Resorts – 42 percent off

You can book the deal from now through your day of arrival, through the rooms may go fast. 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 Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7420, or your travel agent and using booking code XO7. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Kids sail free on certain 7-night cruises

Children ages 17 and under traveling with two full-fare Guests in the same stateroom sail free on most 7-Night Caribbean cruises from January 8, 2011 through March 5, 2011, excluding the February 19, 2011 sailing.

There are definitely some restrictions and exclusions. The discount applies only to verandah staterooms (except concierge and suites), and it cannot be combined with any onboard credit discounts. Taxes and fees are also not included for the free children.

The number of cabins available at these rates is limited. Reservations may be booked through the Disney Cruise Line website (link), by calling Disney Cruise Line at 800-951-3532, or your travel agent and using booking code KFO. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (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.