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Update for September 27 – October 3, 2010

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News and Views

Let the Memories Begin campaign leaves split impression | Two new droids at Star Tours 2.0 | MousePlanet Meet at Epcot October 10 | DVC Member Services to have downtime | Wild Africa Trek to provide new animal experiences | Construction update | Quick takes

Let the Memories Begin campaign leaves split impression

Last week, Disney Parks & Resorts held a press conference in New York City that was promoted on the Disney Parks Blog as "unveiling some exciting plans for Disney Parks." Disney fan speculation ran rampant, from more details about the Fantasyland Forest expansion to announcement of a whole new park. When the press conference revealed "Let the Memories Begin," the new promotional campaign for the parks this year, most of the Disney community responded with a collective "meh."


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Taken on its own, the campaign has created two different schools of thought, but Disney Parks definitely needs to do some further thought on setting expectations for their announcements. If they had stated that they were revealing an "exciting new promotional campaign" for the parks, there would have probably been a more positive response from fans. You can check out the announcement itself here:

So what is this new campaign all about? Well, depending on who you talk to, it's either a cool new way to provide magical experiences for guests, or a way for Disney Parks to have guests create their advertising campaign for them.

Let the Memories Begin is based upon the fact that—surprise!—people plan vacations in order to create memories and then they share memories with others. So Disney is encouraging guests to send their photos and videos in to possibly be used as part of the promotional campaign and in a new in-park show that will be projected on the facades of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom park and "it's a small world" at Disneyland Park to the music of the new theme song "Let the Memories Begin."

Critics have stated that after asking guests to "figure out your own reason to come" with the "What Will You Celebrate?" campaign, Disney is now asking guests to "make your own ad campaign." They also note that using home movies and photos is a lot cheaper than hiring scriptwriters, cameramen, actors and the like.

On the other hand, there's no doubt that footage of actual families showing true surprise at finding out that "We're going to Disney World!" is a true heartwarmer. Even fans unimpressed with the announcement itself were noting that the commercial brought happy tears to their eyes. It appears that this is going to be a true love-it-or-hate-it campaign. Check out the commercial here:

The new night-time show will be a quite interesting affair. Beginning in early January 2011, up to 500 guest photos and videos will be projected onto the landmark facades on select nights throughout the year. The images will be a combination of those submitted by guests to the "Let the Memories Begin" website (link), the Facebook pages for Walt Disney World (link) and Disneyland (link), the special Disney memories YouTube site (link) and the Disney Parks MySpace page (link), and those taken in-park by Disney's PhotoPass photographers.

How well will the promotion do at drawing more guests to the parks? Time will tell. Let us know what you think in the discussion threads on our Walt Disney World or Disneyland forums, or in the comments below in this column.

Two new droids at Star Tours 2.0

We now know that our pilot in Star Tours: The Adventures Continue will be AC-38, or "Ace" for short. Ace was one of two new droids introduced by Imagineering Executive VP & Senior Creative Executive Tom Fitzgerald at the D23 Destination Disneyland event over the weekend, which was followed up with a post on the Disney Parks blog.


The AC-series Tour Droid reportedly is the polar opposite of Captain Rex from Star Tours 1.0. Image © Disney.

Fitzgerald also introduced a droid named "Aly San San," who will be voiced by Allison Janney. Modeled after the WA-7 Waitress Droid in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Aly San San will be seen in the "passenger terminal" portion of the attraction's queue.


Wheeled droid Aly San San will be the "spokesbot" for Star Tours. Image © Disney.

Perhaps the most exciting news on the renewed attraction was actually revealed later during the D23 event by Disneyland President George Kalogridis, who passed along the information that there will be 54 possible experiences on the new attraction. It's uncertain what all of the variables might be, but if there are only the two destinations that we currently know of (Coruscant and Tatooine), there could be 27 permutations each, which would easily break down into three "variation points" with three possibilities each. We'll have to wait to find out more.

MousePlanet Meet at Epcot October 10

Will you be at Walt Disney World during Columbus Day Weekend? Come to the MousePlanet meet at Epcot on Sunday, October 10 at 4:00 p.m. at the lagoon-side seating area across from the Germany pavilion. Meet Mark Goldhaber and visit with other MousePlanet readers and MouseStation listeners! The seating area is located between the FriendShip dock and the stone pier on the shores of World Showcase Lagoon. Come join us!

DVC Member Services to have downtime

As noted in the most recent issue of Disney Files Magazine, portions of the Disney Vacation Club Member website will have some downtime this fall and the Member Services phone line will also be unavailable for more than a day as new system upgrades are put into place. DVC has now released more information, and all DVC members should receive this information via email or postal mail.

On October 12, Member Services will close early, at 3 p.m. Eastern Time, to accommodate the first phase of the booking system update. Member Services will reopen on October 14 at 9 a.m. Self-service functions on DVCMember.com will also be unavailable during that time. This downtime is necessary to ensure that all data is transferred without error from the old booking system to the new one.

There will also be planned outages on October 20, November 17, and December 1 and 15. Member Services will remain open, but system capabilities may be limited.

Once the new system is up and running, members will get automatic email confirmations and their guests can also get confirmations at the member's request. Also, when vacation plans include multiple rooms, resorts and/or reservation types, members will have just one itinerary and confirmation number for the entire trip.

The star of the show, though, which will not be available until 2011, is online booking of DVC accommodations.

With the changes to the booking system, there will be some other changes as well. Effective with the first phase rollout on October 14, members will be required to pay a one-night room and tax deposit for cash reservations. In addition, while members can add the Disney Dining Plan to their reservation until 48 hours prior to check-in date, payment for the dining plan will be required at the time that it's added to a reservation.

For the latest updates as this rollout moves forward, check DVCMember.com (link) or call DVC Member Services.

Wild Africa Trek to provide new animal experiences

Guests at Disney's Animal Kingdom seeking an even closer view of the park's animals will soon have that opportunity. Available for an added fee, Wild Africa Trek will provide a close-up experience on foot and on wheels, followed by a journey via taste buds.


An artist's rendering depicts a specially-designed observation station to be used for the Wild Animal Trek. Image © Disney.

Experts will take small groups on personalized, guided travels on foot over a crocodile pool, by a hippo pool and through unexplored areas of the forest. The trip will also take customized vehicles across the savanna. The tours will be focused on observing and learning about the wildlife. The end of the Trek will feature African food at a special observation station so that the guests can eat and view at the same time.

Construction update

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 – interactive queue audio.
  • Magic Kingdom Tomorrowland Cool Ship – painting.
  • Magic Kingdom Toon Town – generator fuel tank change out.
  • Epcot – generator fuel tank change out.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Hat Plaza meet and greet locations – electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – generator fuel tank change out.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Tusker House – completion of construction work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Animal Barns #85, 86 & 87 – heater replacement.
  • Typhoon Lagoon – completion of construction work.
  • Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach – generator fuel tank change out.
  • Downtown Disney Pollo Campero – installation of Pollo Campero and Fresh A-Peel signs for both the building and the "bell tower" structure.
  • Downtown Disney Hotels Holiday Inn – interior renovations to the Disney Retail store located at Holiday Inn.
  • Downtown Disney Pleasure Island – generator fuel tank change out.
  • Bay Lake Tower – electrical switch installation.
  • Bay Lake Tower dumpster pad – construction work.
  • Contemporary Resort – generator fuel tank change out.
  • Boardwalk Resort Boardwalk Bakery – mechanical work.
  • Boardwalk Resort Luna Park pool pump building – heater replacement.
  • Boardwalk Resort – completion of construction work.
  • Yacht Club Resort – completion of construction work.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort Boatwright's Dining Hall – refinishing of wood flooring.
  • Port Orleans Riverside & French Quarter Resorts laundry tram parking area – carpentry work.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory beverage island – carpentry, electrical and construction work.
  • Port Orleans Resort – generator fuel tank change out.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort – generator fuel tank change out.
  • Reedy Creek Improvement District Fire Station – completion of construction work.
  • Smart City complex – installation of satellite dish.

Quick takes …

…It looks like Epcot's Future World has finally drawn enough late-hours interest to earn full-day status. Starting Sunday October 3, Future World once again will officially close with the park at 9 p.m. Now if we could only get World Showcase to open at 9 a.m. again…

…Heading to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and need some additional facial decor? You're in luck! The face painting booth at Mickey's Toontown Fair provides free face painting during the party. Most designs run $10-$15 during the day, though some of the more complicated designs aren't available during the party to allow more people to get their face done. Despite that, the wait can get rather long, so make sure to allow for enough time if you want the experts to decorate your face for you.

…Magic Kingdom guests may hear some interesting things while waiting to experience The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. A permit was filed with the Orange County Comptroller's Office for installation of interactive queue audio on the attraction. It's unknown at this point how the audio would be triggered.

…The 15th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival starts this weekend. The Eat to the Beat concert series will be opened on Friday night by Taylor Dayne.

…Glowing stars have been erected at the meet-and-greet locations in front of the Sorcerer Hat icon at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

…The new 325-square-foot private beach cabanas opened on Castaway Cay last Tuesday. Furnishings in each cabana include lounge chairs, a dining table with cushioned chairs, a locker, a refrigerators, and even an outdoor shower and a shaded deck. Towels, sunscreen and non-alcoholic beverages. Disney Cruise Line passengers may also opt for food and beverage packages, a cabana host and more.

…Disney Parks has signed on as a major sponsor of the Amway Center, the new arena that will be the home of the National Basketball Association's Orlando Magic. Disney has received naming rights to the arena's atrium, which will be called the Disney Atrium, and will work with the Magic on co-branded merchandise and other cooperative marketing and community opportunities.

…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).

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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).
  • 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 Flower & Garden 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 11. 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

  • No known scheduled closures.

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.
  • Block Party Bash Parade – final performance January 1; Pixar Pals Cavalcade begins performances January 16.

Animal Kingdom

  • 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.
  • Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – The main slide and kiddie slide at Stormalong Bay are closed from January 3 through mid-February. Guests that wish to use have a pool slide as part of their resort pool experience can use the Luna Park pool at the BoardWalk Resort.
  • BoardWalk Resort – the Keister Coaster slide at the Luna Park pool will be closed from February 7 through mid-March. Guests that wish to use have a pool slide as part of their resort pool experience can use the Stormalong Bay pool at the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.

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.