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Update for October 4 – October 10, 2010

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News and Views

MousePlanet Meet at Epcot October 10 | D23's Destination D, Scavenger Hunt coming to Walt Disney World in 2011 | Disney Reservation System to be down next week | Fireworks Dessert Party adds dinner for New Year's Eve | Golden Oak community announces seven builders | Construction update | Quick takes

MousePlanet Meet at Epcot October 10

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

D23's Destination D, Scavenger Hunt coming to Walt Disney World in 2011

On the heels of the successful Destination D event a week ago celebrating Disneyland's 55 birthday, Disney's D23 official fan club has announced another Destination D event, this time to celebrate Walt Disney World's 40th birthday, coming up a year from now. The event will be held in Spring 2011, to allow D23 staff to focus on the event without also having to worry about the D23 Expo, set for August 2011. Rumors point strongly to an April date next year, but there is nothing official yet.


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The event will feature many panels similar to those presented at the Disneyland event. Those announced already include Disney Legend (and recently retired Disney Archivist) Dave Smith hosting "Walt Disney World: The Way We Were," current Disney Archives Director Becky Cline presenting "Weird Disney," plus panels on and '55, "Walt Disney World Through the Eye of Television," "Walt Disney World in Pop Culture" and "From Quirky to Collectible: The Wonderful World of Walt Disney World Merchandise." There will also be a special evening concert featuring musical memories from throughout the history of Walt Disney World.

Another event taking place during Destination D will also take a page from the Disneyland event. D23's Great Disney Scavenger Hunt: Walt Disney World will be a two-day event that will take participants through all four theme parks. The event will cost D23 members $50 per team and non-members $75 per team. Teams must have 2-4 members. More information will be available on the D23 Web site in the near future.

Disney Reservation System to be down next week

We reported last week that Disney Vacation Club Member Services would be closed from 3 p.m. EDT next Tuesday, October 12, until 9 a.m. next Thursday, October 14. What we didn't note was that, since this will begin the integration of the DVC reservations system with the main Disney Resorts reservations system, the main Disney booking system will also be unavailable during that time. The main system becomes unavailable at 4 p.m. next Tuesday. This will affect not only Walt Disney World Resort, but also Disneyland Resort and the three non-theme park Disney Vacation Club resort, Vero Beach Resort, Hilton Head Island Resort, and Aulani in Hawaii.

The downtime affects your ability to make, cancel, or modify room-only or vacation-package reservations, as well as receiving confirmations and making payments, both by phone and online. Also affected are reservations for dining, recreation (such as fireworks cruises and golf), tours, children's activity centers, Cirque du Soliel La Nouba, and online check-in service.

Disney plans outages on October 20, November 17, and December 1 and 15, beginning at 6 p.m. EDT on the preceding night and continuing on through the morning. Member Services and the reservations phone center remains open, but system capabilities may be limited.

Fireworks Dessert Party adds dinner for New Year's Eve

The standard Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party gets an upgrade for New Year's Eve. On December 31, the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dinner & Dessert Party starts at 6:30 p.m., and is designed to coincide with the 8:30 showing of the Holiday Wishes fireworks (but not the midnight fireworks). The menu includes seared tuna, beef short-ribs, carved pork, sushi, fruit, cheeses, salads, and artisan breads. Child-friendly options include pizza, chicken nuggets, and macaroni and cheese. After dinner, a wide range of dessert options will be served, including a non-alcoholic sparkling beverage. The midnight fireworks will be accompanied by a separate dessert-only party, with admission beginning at 11:00.

The price for dinner is $166.13 per adult and $82 per child, including tax and gratuity. You must pay in full at the time of booking. The Disney Dining Plan is not valid for this event, and park admission is not included. To make a reservation for the dinner, call the Disney Dining Line at 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463).

Golden Oak community announces seven builders

Walt Disney World has selected seven homebuilders to construct the luxury homes of the Golden Oak resort community (link). The community, first announced along with a Four Seasons resort back in March 2007 and reannounced this June, Golden Oak consists of three types of single-family homes. Village Homes will be in a Mediterrantan style on lots up to one-quarter acre; Estate Homes, on half-acre lots, will have a choice of multiple styles including including Tuscan, Spanish Revival, Venetian, Italianate, Dutch Colonial and Island Colonial. Grand Estate Homes will be in similar styles to the Estate Homes on lots of up to three-quarters of an acre, and will be designed to handle the large families.

Each of the seven builders is purchasing initial individual homesites in order to build showcase and spec homes right away. Village Homes will be built by CAHILL, Goehring & Morgan Construction, Inc. and Issa Homes. Estate and Grand Estate Homes will be built by Derrick Builders, Inc., Jones-Clayton Construction, J. Richard Watson Construction Company, Inc. and Ray Coudriet Builder, Inc. Additional builders may be added in the future, depending on the growth of the community.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom main entrance stroller & ECV rental area and tipboard area – concrete work.
  • Magic Kingdom The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – showset interactive props package.
  • Epcot Duffy Bear meet-n-greet location – general construction work.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa building 7 (Conch Key) elevators – installation & electrical work.
  • Wilderness Lodge main building – manufacture & installation of signs.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground security kiosk – electrical work.
  • Old Key West Resort Hospitality House, buildings 11, 14, 16, 19 and 64 boiler rooms, Olivia's Restaurant, Cast Services building – mechanical work.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa buildings 5, 6, 17 and DVC Sales Center – mechanical work.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort Martinique & Jamaica storm drain retention pond – drainage work.

Quick takes …

…Karamell-Küche, the new caramel shop in Epcot's Germany pavilion (in fact, it's German for "caramel kitchen"), is now open. Hosted by Storck USA (makers of Werther's Original Caramels), the shop features brownies, cookies, and fudge, all made with Werther's caramel. There's also freshly-made caramel corn, caramel-covered apples and caramel-covered strawberries. and other caramel-based selections.

…Kouzzina by Cat Cora closes on November 29 for refubishment that will include new signage, outdoor seating and merchandise area. The Flying Fish Cafe remains open for breakfast during the refurbishment for those looking for a full morning meal at the resort. Kouzzina's pizza window will remain open during the refurbishment. The lobby will receive a functioning olive oil display during the refurbishment, as well as information about chef Cat Cora. The restaurant is scheduled to reopen on December 15.

…Congratulations to Anton Van Zyl of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and Melissa Wisner of Washington, DC, who won the men's and women's divisions of the inaugural Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon on Saturday night. Van Zyl won the men's division in 1:14:51, just 13 seconds ahead of Matthew Dobson of Jay, Florida. Wisner had a much larger cushion, finishing in 1:32:22, nearly three minutes ahead of Sheila Sullivan of Daytona Beach, Florida. More than 11,000 runners participated in the half-marathon, while more than 14,000 in all participated in the weekend's events, which also included the Mickey's Halloween 5K. The half-marathon started at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and passed through Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios before finishing at Epcot. Not to be left out, the Magic Kingdom park hosted a 5K race early Saturday morning.

…Disney has launched an initiative called Disney Magic of Healthy Living, a program that encourages parents to raise healthy, happy children, and encourages children to eat smart and exercise. The program includes public service announcements featuring First Lady Michelle Obama and such Disney Channel stars as Nick Jonas and Brenda Song. One of the highlights of the program is a national essay contest where children ages 8 to 14 can write about their ideas for living a healthy life at home, at school, or in their communities. Entries can be submitted from October 21 through December 1, and 50 winners will be invited to the "Disney Magic of Healthy Living – The Weekend" event at Walt Disney World. More information will be available at the contest Web site (link) soon.

…The Hilton at Walt Disney World Resort, one of the seven hotels not owned by Disney located near Downtown Disney, has been sold to Hilton Worldwide. The resort, which had been owned by Tishman Hotel & Realty LP, is located on Hotel Plaza Boulevard near its intersection with Buena Vista Boulevard. Hilton had held an option on purchasing the resort, and it has exercised it, bringing the franchised location into its own portfolio. Tishman continues to to own and operate the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort with an affiliation with Starwood Resorts.

…A man accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship has pleaded guilty in federal court to abusive secual contact on the high seas. Lucas Wickes, now age 25, of Rochester, New York, faces up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.

…Walt Disney World Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Shannon McAleavey will be leaving Disney in the near future to spend more time with family and to get ready for the next phase in her career. McAleavey joined Disney in 2005.

…The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon is 65 percent full, the Half Marathon is 77 percent full, Goofy's Race-and-a-Half Challenge is 70 percent full, Buzz & Woody's Best Friends 5K is 65 percent full, and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest 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 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 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 2 to May 15, 2011: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
  • 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).
  • April 29, 30, May 6, 7: Grad Nites (link).

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

  • No known scheduled closures.

Resorts

  • BoardWalk Resort – Kouzzina by Cat Cora closed for refurbishment November 29-December 14.
  • 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 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

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 to 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.