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Update for October 11 – 17, 2010

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News and Views

MouseAdventure: World Explorers II provides a challenge in Disney's Animal Kingdom | Make those reservations this morning | Disney unions to vote on new contract Thursday | Construction update | Quick takes

MouseAdventure: World Explorers II provides a challenge in Disney's Animal Kingdom

Thanks to all who played MouseAdventure with us this weekend. We had a great game, and all of the teams had a great time. The big winners were The Castaways, with a score of 600 points out of a possible 670. Our Masters team, Simba's Pride, playing out of competition and down one player, finished with the second-highest point total with 565 points. Second place officially went to San Diego Mouse Catchers Lite (also not at full strength) with 540 points, and in third place was Yen Sid's Apprentices with 535. Best New Team was Just a Dinosaur with a very respectable score of 415.


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We've got MouseAdventure: Trick or Treat taking place this coming Sunday at the Disneyland Resort, and future games planned at the Disneyland Resort for Spring and Fall 2011. We hope to return to Walt Disney World in the Fall 2011, but we need your help! Spread the word, help us to get more players. We hope to have another great game for you next year in a park we haven't visited yet (don't act surprised when you find out).

Make those reservations this morning

If you are wanting to make any resort or dining reservations this week, you probably want to do it prior to 4 p.m. Eastern Time today. The last two weeks, we told you about the outages related to the merging of the reservation systems for Disney Vacation Club and Disney Resorts. The outage affects more systems than that, though.

Walt Disney World guests received the following notice at their rooms yesterday:

Dear Walt Disney World Resort Guest,

Thank you for choosing the Walt Disney World Resort as your vacation destination.

In order for our resort to continue to flourish as a magical destination, it is necessary for us to make enhancements from time to time. As a result, beginning at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 12, our property will be experiencing a computer systems upgrade. We anticipate the upgrade to be completed by Wednesday evening, October 13.

To assist in making your vacation experience as seamless as possible during our system upgrade, please note the following:

  • If you would like to make a dining or dinner show (e.g., Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show or Mickey's Backyard BBQ) reservation for any time prior to Thursday morning, October 14, we recommend that you do so by 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 12.
  • In addition, if attending a dinner show on Tuesday, October 12, or Wednesday, October 13, please pick up your tickets at the Lobby Concierge prior to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 12.
  • The ability to post room charges may be temporarily disrupted. In the unlikely event that you are unable to use your room card to purchase food or merchandise on the evening of Tuesday, October 12, please plan to have an alternate form of payment available. Note: this temporary disruption will not impact any Disney Dining Plan.
  • Should you wish to purchase or upgrade existing Magic Your Way and Cirque du Soleil La Nouba tickets from the comfort and convenience of our resort, you will want to do so prior to 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 12. Though ticket purchases can also be made at our Theme Parks for park admission and at the Cirque du Soleil Box Office for show admission, you will want to allow extra time as you may experience longer wait times at these locations. (A special note for Guests who qualify for group/convention tickets; you may purchase these tickets at the Guest Relations locations at the four Theme Parks.)
  • If you are interested in attending the Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Tuesday, October 12, you will also want to ensure tickets to this special event are purchasedd prior to 4:00 p.m. that day.

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Front Desk. Once again, thank you for being our Guest and we wish you a magical stay.

Sincerely

The Cast of Walt Disney World Resort

The systems affected are used for both on-site and remote reservations. So just in case, try to make any of those reservations in the mornings this week, even if you're not at Walt Disney World this week.


The Osborne Lights are up on the building facades at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The globe at the end of Streets of America is up, but the angels have yet to be installed. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The mid-block rooftop displays are up, and the staging area is blocked off. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Walt Disney: One Man's Dream is closed for refurbishment for another few weeks yet. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Disney unions to vote on new contract Thursday

The fractious relationship between the member unions of the Service Trades Council Union (STCU) may be reaching the breaking point. The STCU negotiates an umbrella contract that covers all of its member unions every three years. This year, three of the member unions (Unite HERE Local 362, Teamsters Local 385 and Local 1625) are recommending a "no" vote against the contract negotiated between Disney and the unions, two (International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees Local 631 and SEIU Local 737) are recommending a "yes" vote, and the sixth (Transportation Communications International Union Local 1908) is taking a neutral stance. Union members vote on the new contract Thursday.

Disney is currently offering a $550 bonus in 2010 and raises for those not at the top of the pay scale for their grade in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Raises would vary by position, which is what is causing the split. The raises each year vary from 3 to 4 percent, with the more skilled and specialized positions getting the higher raises.

Unions against the contract want raises to be equal across the board, while Disney says that they're using a formula that takes into account the supply and demand of workers for each position. The easier it is to replace people, the less Disney is willing to pay the people in the jobs.

To try to speed approval, Disney is offering a bonus of $100 per employee if the contract is approved on the first vote.


Construction of the meet-and-greet location for Duffy the Disney Bear continues across from the future Duffy shop. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Duffy-on-a-Stick has replaced the old masks at the Kidcot Fun Stops. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

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 – queue area.
  • Magic Kingdom The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – experience development, screen installation package.
  • Magic Kingdom The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – video capture equipment racks.
  • Epcot American Adventure pavilion – mechanical work.
  • Epcot Land pavilion – generator relocation.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studio Feature Animation Building – mechanical work.
  • Downtown Disney West Side village green – electrical work.
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex – Milk House brand removal package.
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – completion of construction.
  • Boardwalk Resort Kouzzina, Character Carnival, Boardwalk Bakery – replacement of awning.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort Artist Palette – installation of new ceramic floor.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter commercial building – electrical and mechanical construction to replace two auxiliary heating units.


Replacement of the roof of Mad Tea Party continues. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


"it's a small world" is closed for refurbishment. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The main show building for Ariel's Undersea Adventure is starting to take shape. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


A closer look at what's going on at the Ariel site. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Ariel's Undersea Adventure will be a replica of the attraction being built at Disney California Adventure park. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Construction of Beast's Castle for the Be Our Guest Restaurant is also going vertical. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The Pooh queue runs out along the construction wall for the attraction's regular queue area. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The confluence of walls for the Mad Tea Party, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the Fantasyland expansion make for a very wall-y vista. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Quick takes …

…It appears that interactive elements are being added to the queues at the Haunted Mansion and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The Pooh queue is completely blocked, and guests are currently being queued up along the outside of the construction wall. The Mansion's queue has had shades installed to block the openings through which the graveyard had previously been seen from the queue to block the work that will be going on.

…As of this past Sunday, The American Idol Experience will have seven shows a day, including the finale. The new show times are: 11:00, 12:00, 1:00, 2:00, 4:30, 5:30, 6:30 (finale).

…Parking lot trams at Disney's Animal Kingdom are the start of a new generation. Two new trams have doors. A third is on order for the park to completely upgrade their fleet. Once that's done, the other theme parks will begin getting their new trams with doors.

…The Disney Dream will be introducing some new names. At the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab, the new interactive play floor previewed last year now has a new Disneyesque name: Magic PlayFloor. The system lets kids control the action on the floor. The virtual portholes installed in inside staterooms that show a real-time view outside the ship and feature visits from Disney characters will now be called Magical Portholes. Meanwhile, Doc Hudson's Grill, located in the Flo's Cafe area at Deck 11 midship is being renamed Tow Mater's Grill, and will feature burgers, chicken tenders and other grilled items.

…If you'll be making a deposit on a Disney cruise, be aware that deposit rules changed last Tuesday. Now deposits will be 20 percent of the total voyage fare, not including port fees, but including insurance, transfers, taxes and/or air.

…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% 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 Main Street Exposition Hall is still under construction. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The main entrance to Casey's Corner still has some work to be finished.


The back corner of Casey's and the back entrance to the Main Street merchandise complex is still under refurbishment. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Over in Tomorrowland, Cool Ship is being refurbished. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Some construction is underway near the end of the Tomorrowland Speedway attraction. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Meanwhile in Adventureland, El Pirata y El Perico is under wraps for refurbishment. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

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Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

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, 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

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.


Comments

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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.