If you're a fan of the Block Party Bash Parade at Disney's Hollywood Studios, you've only got a little over three months to catch it before it is retired from the park. The last performance of the parade will be at 3:00 p.m. on January 1. Two weeks later, on January 16, the Pixar Pals Cavalcade (working title) will debut. The new parade will feature three existing floats, three new floats, recycled music from the current Pixar Play Parade at Disney California Adventure park.
Remy and Emile from Ratatouille and Carl and Russell from "Up" will be added to the parade. We've also heard a rumor of a dance number to "Put On Your Sunday Clothes," the song from Hello, Dolly! that was used extensively in WALL-E. We'll know for sure when the new parade debuts on January 16.
During the changeover, there will be no parade at Disney's Hollywood Studios from January 2-15.
Last night Epcot celebrated the bicentennial of Mexico with the opening of La Hacienda and La Cantina del San Angel.
Like any good Latin gathering, more people showed up than were probably expected. The place was full of invited guests, including many former Disney executives.
Just add Mariachis and you have one grand fiesta. The only one that seemed to be missing was the Disney fire marshal.
But there was a great sense of friendship and camaraderie present. Many were former executives of Disney such as Dick Nunis, as well as old friends of Palmas Services. For those of you who may not know, Palmas Services is the operating partner for not only the eateries at Mexico, but all of the food and beverage locations in Disney's Coronado Springs.
Beaming with pride was Richard "Ricky" Debler, who has been in the restaurant business since he was 16, and has been involved with creating food & beverage experiences with Walt Disney World since 1980. To date, this organization takes care of eleven different table, counter, and kiosk service offerings across Disney property. And Ricky has played a hand in all of them, even lending his name, as in Rix Lounge and Cafe.
Of all of the eateries, the most popular has been the San Angel Inn, located beyond the walls of the Mayan temple icon within the Plaza de los Amigos. The San Angel reference is taken from Ricky's own rich family tradition. In the 1960's their family took over a popular Mexico City restaurant built from an old inn known as San Angel. That inn was originally created from an old hacienda established way back in 1692.
Now San Angel Inn has serious but familial competition with La Hacienda del San Angel across the way. As opposed to the twilight experience of the Inn, here you find a home filled with light looking over World Showcase lagoon. The decor speaks of a someone who not only loved food, but loved the arts and crafts of Mexico.
The food is strikingly different than what you'll find in San Angel Inn. Ricky and Dan Cockrell, VP of Epcot, traveled back to their family's original restaurant in Mexico City to look at how contemporary Mexican dining is provided today.
I sampled from over half a dozen foods served in both the Hacienda and in the Cantina. I am no food critic, but they were all delicious, and unique in their own way. The menu takes its roots from traditional Mexican food, and not from typical Mexican food restaurants. Rather the menu was more in alignment with out of the way eateries my son (who lived in Mexico for two years) likes to take us to (though considerably upscaled), rather than a typical Tex-Mex type experience. For instance, I was asked to rate the salsa. There are a couple of salsas available on the menu. But none of the dishes served as appetizers style on the menu last night really played to it, nor did they need it. Likewise, unless you went with the Chiles toreados and chorizitos, nothing was too hot--and even those where sweet peppers mixed with lime and sea salt.
Fresh homemade tortillas are the base for the various tacos. With some of these great dishes, it may be difficult to pay attention to the offerings of Epcot's annual food and wine festival. Photo by Jeff Kober.
As always, the Cantina will continue to be popular for those looking for a bite to eat along their sojourn through World Showcase.
The interior of the Hacienda restaurant is designed to accommodate overflow from the patios of the Cantina during the day, while moving over to more formal sit down dining at night.
But my prediction is that demand for the offerings of the more formal Hacienda, will quickly push counter service Cantina seating outside the door and back onto the patio. I think the food offerings of La Hacienda, while perhaps a little on the pricy side for my tastes, provides a very different culinary experience then what you get elsewhere in Epcot. Definitely add it to your list of places to try. With the potential of viewing the fireworks of Illuminations at night, this location has the opportunity of becoming a "South of the Border" California Grill.
Duffy the Disney Bear, a huge hit at Tokyo Disney Resort, had his first re-introduction to Walt Disney World passholders on Saturday, as they got their first look at the bear, his accessories, and other Duffy-themed merchandise to the East Coast audience. Duffy was also introduced to Disneyland passholders yesterday. Duffy had previously been introduced as "The Disney Bear" in 2002 and again in 2004. However, since Duffy has become such a huge hit in Tokyo, Disney Parks & Resorts has decided to give him another try.
Duffy will debut on October 14, with a life-sized version doing meet-and-greets wearing his sailor suit at a gazebo to be constructed at World Showcase Plaza, across from Towers East Gifts (the gift shop on the Mexico side of World Showcase Plaza). That merchandise location will be converted to become the Duffy Gift Shop, which will sell anything and everything Duffy. The stuffed bear itself will be available in 17-inch and 24-inch sizes (prices start at $25), and you'll be able to dress him in a wide variety of outfits. Smaller wristlet and keychain-sized bears will also be available, as will special 12-inch holiday-themed Duffys.
Duffy will reportedly be exclusive to Epcot and Disney California Adventure, at least to start. As such, a lot of the merchandise available will be themed to Epcot. You'll be able to a wide variety of different outfits for Duffy, including at least one for every World Showcase country. There will also be outfits for just about every major holiday (including Halloween, Christmas, St. Patrick's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter and Fourth of July), Disney Cruise Lines and his usual sailor suit. Prices may vary, but most outfits for the 17-inch bear will be $15.
But wait, that's not all! In addition to the clothing, you'll be able to buy Duffy popcorn buckets (in the shape of Duffy), crisp rice treats, water bottles, key chains and more. Merchandise will also be available aboard the Disney Cruise Line, but there will be no meet-and-greet opportunities on board (at least, to start).
Duffy pins will begin appearing early next year and will likely include a pin for each outfit available for the plush bear, as well as special pins for passholders, DVC members, and so forth. Duffy will also break the mold on Vinylmations, being the first of the figurines to not be Mickey-shaped. The Duffy Vinylmation will actually be Duffy-shaped, and will be flocked (with a fuzzy coating).
Duffy will also invade the Kidcot Fun Stops, with a plain cardboard Duffy-on-a-stick replacing the masks previously distributed at the locations around World Showcase. Kids will be able to color Duffy, and each country will have its own unique Duffy stamp for the stick.
Duffy will even have his own Facebook page and Twitter account so you can follow him on adventures and get the latest Duffy news.
Based on the response by passholders at the event, Duffy appears to be off to a good start this time around. We'll have to see what the masses think of the hidden Mickey-adorned bear when he goes into wide release on October 14.
Our thanks to Vance Cope for passing along the info from the passholder event.
Disney's Art of Animation Resort, which was announced in May, now has a web page on the WaltDisneyWorld.com site (link). The new page features a new rendering featuring the Finding Nemo-themed buildings of the resort, which will be located across Hourglass Lake from the Pop Century Resort.
The resort is still scheduled to open in the summer of 2012, though booking dates have not yet been announced. As we noted in our original story, various buildings will be themed to The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Finding Nemo and Cars. There will be a main pool and two quiet pool areas, as well as a food court, arcade, retail location and airline check-in stations.
The Little Mermaid-themed buildings will feature standard value resort accommodations, while the other three areas will consist of family suites, which can accommodate up to six guests, similar to the existing All Star Music Family Suites. Current plans call for 864 standard rooms and 1,120 family suites. Family suites are expected to include 2 separate bathrooms, a master bedroom and a living room that will have three separate sleeping areas. One of those sleeping areas is something called an "Inovabed," which will transform from a dining or work table to a bed.
Just after Noon Florida time (9am West coast) the DIS reported that there had been a fire at Walt Disney World's Splash Mountain, and that Frontierland was evacuated.
A Walt Disney World spokesperson confirmed that Splash Mountain had closed briefly Wednesday, but denied that there had been a fire, or that any portion of the Magic Kingdom had been evacuated.
Tampa Bay Online reports that Reedy Creek Fire Department responded to "reports of a burning smell in the electrical room," and that the ride was closed for about an hour as a precaution.
Update: I just spoke with Reedy Creek Fire Department Deputy Chief Richard LePere. He said that his department received a phone call reporting smoke in an electrical equipment room. They responded and found no smoke and no fire, but observed a "hot smell" from a electrical cabinet that contained some lighting dimmer switches. He said his department worked with Disney's engineering department to remove the cabinet from service, and the ride reopened without incident. He characterized this as a routine response.
While this type of incident would normally go unreported here at MousePlanet, other than in passing, due to the spread of this story through the Internet and into the "mainstream" media, MousePlanet followed up to ensure that we got the accurate story out there.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…Pool slides around Crescent Lake are in for some refurbishment next year. The main slide and kiddie slide at Stormalong Bay at the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts will be closed from January 3 through mid-February, and on the other side of Crescent Lake the Keister Coaster at Luna Park at the BoardWalk Resort will be closed from February 7 through mid-March. Guests at an affected resort that wish to use have a pool slide as part of their resort pool experience can cross Crescent Lake and use the pool at the other resort.
…If you're looking for some family-friendly Halloween fun and don't want to (or can't) get tickets to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom, then Downtown Disney is the place for you on October 30 and 31. There will be trick-or-treating at select locations from 5-9 p.m., as well as lots of live entertainment. You can enjoy storytelling, stilt walkers, a dance party and variety, magic and musical acts. There will be live music until midnight on Pleasure Island, and variety acts on the West Side throughout the night.
…A new Givenchy Boutique will open on Wednesday at Epcot's France pavilion. The 400-square-foot store will be the only location in the United States offering the full line of Givenchy Le Makeup, skincare and fragrances.
…The new "Knight Package" at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is now available. Your son can now be turned into a brave knight with colorful hair gel, confetti and a sword and shield. It's uncertain whether this will be more popular than previous boy-themed packages, but if you want to go for it, you can make reservations by calling 407-WDW-STYLE (407-939-7895) or at the Boutique's website (link).
…Disney has released a new video about the construction of Aulani, the combination hotel and Disney Vacation Club resort currently under construction in Hawai'i. The video features Imagineer Joe Rohde, creative team leader, and Djuan Rivers, operational team leader for the resort. Check it out:
…We're hearing rumors about Star Tours: The Adventures Continue that the pilot of our Starspeeder 1000 will be C-3PO, human-cyborg relations droid.
…A new "Skipping Ropes" act has joined Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba at Downtown Disney West Side. The pair of Japanese rope skippers perform in solo, due and group rope formations.
…Last week, we reported that there were three new hot dogs on the menu at The Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland. Those additions, which were reported by the Disney Parks Blog (link), had an incorrect name listing. The "second version of the Reuben" hot dog with beef, onions, peppers and melted cheese is actually called the Philly Cheese Steak Dog. Also, the standard Reuben Dog was temporarily removed from the menu, but it should be back now.
…Disney's Worldwide Conservation Fund announced the 2010 recipients of the Disney Conservation Heroes Awards at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums conference. You can read the stories of the six honorees—which include a reformed poacher—at the Disney Conservation site (link).
…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 98 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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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:
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:
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 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:
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 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:
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).
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:
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).
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:
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).
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).
(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.