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Update for October 25 – October 31, 2010

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News and Views

D23’s “Magic and Merriment” at WDW | Disney Parks and Resorts sponsorship deal with Ocean Spray | There's kind of an app for that | Disney Fantasy sets sail April 2012 | Disney contest unlocks imagination at the Disney Store in Times Square | Construction update | Quick takes

D23’s “Magic and Merriment” at Walt Disney World

Tickets for D23’s “Magic and Merriment” at Walt Disney World go on sale tomorrow, Tuesday, October 26. The event takes place December 10-12. The event begins on the evening of Friday, December 10 when guests will be treated to a private screening of Archiving the Archives, a new documentary celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Walt Disney Archives at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

On Saturday morning, guests will enjoy hot holiday cider, flavored coffees and scrumptious Christmas Stollen at Epcot, and will be greeted by members of the D23 Team, along with Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton. There will also be a baking demonstration by chefs Erich Herbitschek and Stefan Reimer.

That evening, guests will enjoy reserved seating at the Candlelight Processional narrated by Whoopi Goldberg. Following the performance, guests will be transported to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a holiday feast on the set of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular. After the park closes, there will be a private viewing of The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

On Sunday morning, brunch will be held at the Top of the World Lounge at the Bay Lake Tower of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. After brunch, there will be a tour of the Dream Suite inside Cinderella Castle, high above Fantasyland. Come nightfall, guests will join the celebration at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, where they can relax at D23’s private hospitality area on board the Liberty Belle riverboat, enjoy reserved viewing of “Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade” and the “Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season” fireworks presentation.

The event is available to D23 Members and up to three guests. Ticket price is $235 per person. Park admission is required and not included. Visit the D23 Web site for more information (link).


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Epcot to adopt a cranberry bog during 2011 Food & Wine Festival

Next year, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival will see something it's never seen before: A cranberry bog.

Cranberries are tangy little red fruits. They grow in shrubs in wet, marshy places called "bogs," and thanks to a new sponsorship deal with juice company Ocean Spray, Epcot will be the home of its own marshy bog next fall.

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has struck a deal with Ocean Spray, the Massachusetts based cranberry-growing cooperative, to bring the Ocean Spray cranberry to Disney parks and cruise ships, including the Disneyland Resort, Disney World Resort, and Disney Cruise Line. Disney will offer Craisins Dried Cranberries in new salads and cranberry muffins, and will sell them at fruit cart stands and kiosks inside the theme parks. There will be special Chip ‘n Dale packaging for products sold on Disney properties.

In addition to building a cranberry bog display next fall in Epcot, Ocean Spray will also set up a cranberry bog in the West Coast next spring for Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival, held April 29 to June 12, 2011.

There's kind of an app for that

Although Disney is no stranger to iPhone and iPad apps, it released a park-focused iPad app for the very first time on October 15.

Called “Walt Disney World Magic Vacation Mirror,” Disney describes this app as being able to help you plan a Walt Disney World Resort.  This app includes photos, videos, and 360-degree images of the four Walt Disney World parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach water parks, and the resort hotels. The app also allows users to plan and price their vacation, order a planning DVD, and have the magic mirror announce their vacation.

A little over a week since its introduction, there are 73 user ratings with only a two-and-a-half star rating. Although the screenshots are very appealing, this app provides little more than what you can already see at the Disney Web site, and user review comments note that this app does not include park maps, park hours, or details about attractions such as height restrictions.

However, given that this app is free, it might be worth installing on your iPad if just to keep images of WDW close by. Available for download at the iTunes store (link).


With all parking lot trams at Disney's Animal Kingdom changed over, trams at Disney's Hollywood Studios are now getting doors. Photo by Todd Perlmutter.


The doors do not fit tighly enough to prevent small articles from falling out, but they do keep passengers inside the tram. Photo by Todd Permutter.


A sign on the back of each seat explains how the handle operates. Photo by Todd Perlmutter.


The hinge housings for the doors are rather bulky. Photo by Todd Perlmutter.


The hinges may prove uncomfortable for those with broad shoulders sitting against the door. Photo by Todd Perlmutter.

Disney Fantasy sets sail April 2012

The Disney Fantasy cruise ship sets sail on its maiden voyage on April 7, 2012. The sister ship to the Disney Dream, the 4,000-passenger Fantasy is also expected to feature an AquaDuck water coaster, children’s areas, world-class entertainment, great dining, and experiences for guests of all ages involving Disney stories and characters.

The Disney Fantasy's inaugural cruise leaves out of Port Canaveral, Florida, on seven-night Caribbean itineraries—alternating eastern and western—and include a stop at Disney’s private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay. Rates start at $959 per person (not including government taxes and fees) for a standard inside stateroom, based on double occupancy.

The Disney Dream is scheduled to continue to sail three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, while the Disney Wonder remains on the West Coast, sailing Mexican Riviera itineraries from the Port of Los Angeles. To start the 2012 season, the Disney Magic sails alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.

Guests can now book sailings, including the Disney Fantasy, for the initial part of the 2012 season. For additional information, visit the Disney Cruise Line Web site (link) or call Disney Cruise Line at (888) 325-2500.

Disney contest unlocks imagination in Times Square

The Disney Family.com site is giving away a trip to the grand opening of the Disney Store in New York City's Times Square on November 9, 2010. The lucky child and family will fly to New York City to turn the key and “unlock imagination” and officially open the store. The grand prize includes two nights and three days in New York City, a $250 Disney Store shopping spree, and attendance at a star-studded opening ceremony and VIP reception.

There is only one week to enter this contest and the deadline is Tuesday, October 26. The contest is open registered users of Disney Family.com who are parents of a child between the ages of 3 and 16. The winner must be able to travel to New York City on November 8. For more information, rules and to enter, visit the Disney Family.com Web site (link).


Minnie Mouse casts her spell on look-alike guests during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party held now through Nov. 1, 2010, at the Magic Kingdom. The after-hours event offers trick or treating, meet and greets with favorite characters, plus the playful "Mickey's Boo-to-You Parade" and "Happy HalloWishes" fireworks display. Photographer Gene Duncan. © Disney.

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 stairway construction.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom – front entrance construction work.
  • Epcot Germany Pavilion – construction work.
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon – construction work.
  • Downtown Disney AMC Pleasure Island 24 Theatres Complex – canopy and signage work.
  • Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney – trailer mobilization and overall site construction.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village – pool deck repair.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village – concrete addition for storage area.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village – wall construction.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – food and beverage offices remodeling.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Boma blast chiller installation.
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn – ESPN Club video work.
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – Old Port Royale Food Court kitchen mechanical and electrical work.
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Grand Floridian Cafe mechanical work.
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort – exterior painting buildings 18, 35, 45, 46, 53, and 56.
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort Tangaroa Terrace and Neverland Club – electrical work.
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside – Acadian House/Magnolia Terrace pool filter work.
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside – Magnolia Bend pool restrooms carpentry work.
  • Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Performance Center Building exterior painting and repair.
  • Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts – electrical work.
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – Silver Creek Springs pool filter work.

Quick takes …

…WESH (link) reports that the Walt Disney World Resort bus driver who was assaulted by an angry guest on Tuesday, October 12, was back at work on Monday, October 18. The bus driver had been placed on paid leave pending Disney’s investigation. Read Mark Goldhaber’s report of the incident.

…According to the Orlando Sentinel (link), Disney is supporting former county Commissioner Teresa Jacobs in the Orange County mayor’s race. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and its affiliates have donated $4500 to the candidate. According to the article, Disney was able to go over Florida's $500 campaign contribution limit by bundling $500 contributions from its many separate entities (such as the Disney Cruise Line and Disney Vacation Club). Jacobs is running as a Republican and is considered at this point to be the front runner. Two other theme parks in Orlando (Universal and Sea World) have contributed to a different candidate.

…On Tuesday, October 26, the Magic Kingdom celebrates “Hometown Heroes” in honor of Air Force Week in Central Florida. United States Air Force dignitaries will be honored during the “Celebrate a Dream Come True” parade, and U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are scheduled to perform a fly-over at about 3:15 p.m.

…Available only for a limited time, Disney has a new Facebook game inspired by the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (link). The game puts you in the middle of the action—you score points by serving Festival goers correct food and beverage orders.

…Approximately 145 fine artists, 200 chalk artists, and 40 folk artists will showcase their work at the 35th Festival of the Masters (link) presented by Sharpie, November 12 to 14 at Downtown Disney.

…The PGA Tour returns to Walt Disney World for the 40th consecutive year November 11 to14 for the 2010 Children’s Miracle Network Classic (link) at the Palm and Magnolia golf courses. This year, there will be a Wine & Dine Walk, themed after the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and consisting of food, beer, and wine stations spread across the Magnolia golf course.

…The fifth annual Old Spice Classic (link) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will feature eight college basketball teams playing 12 games over three days, November 25-26 and 28.

…The Harlem Globetrotters will be playing a two game Holiday Special Event at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on November 27. Games are at 2 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.

…Redevelopment may be in the immediate works for Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney. Permits have been filed with the Orange County Comptroller’s Office for trailer mobilization and overall site construction.

…The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon is 80 percent full, the Half Marathon is 88 percent full, Goofy's Race-and-a-Half Challenge is 82 percent full, Buzz & Woody's Best Friends 5K is 82 percent full, and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest is 66 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 Wonderful World of Gaming, where guests can play the latest Nintendo DS and Wii games, opened inside Once Upon a Toy at Downtown Disney Marketplace on Saturday, October 23.

…...All of the contestants for the 2011 Miss America Pageant recently visited the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. While there, Jalee Fuselier, the current Miss Hawaii, recorded a short video talking about how excited she is that Disney is building Aulani, its newest Disney Vacation Club resort, in Hawaii. See the video here:

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

Coming up

  • October 26, 28, 29, and 31, and November 1: Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party (link).
  • Now to November 14: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
  • 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 25–26, 28: Old Spice Classic (link).
  • November 27: Harlem Globtrotters Holiday Special Event.
  • 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 to 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.
  • The Mad Tea Party – closed for refurbishment to November 12.
  • 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.
  • Mickey's Magical Milestones Tour – discontinued, effective November 23.
  • Astro Orbiter – closed for refurbishment December 5–9.
  • Splash Mountain – closed for refurbishment January 3–31, 2011.

Epcot

  • No known scheduled closures.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours – closed for refurbishment through May 16, 2011.
  • One Man's Dream – closed for refurbishment through November 3.
  • "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, 2011.

Animal Kingdom

  • Kali River Rapids – closed for refurbishment January 3–29, 2011.
  • Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment January 17 through April 5, 2011.

Resorts

  • BoardWalk Resort – Kouzzina by Cat Cora closed for refurbishment November 29 to 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, reopens for dinner on January 20, 2011.
  • Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – The main slide and kiddie slide at Stormalong Bay are closed from January 3 through mid-February, 2011. 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, 2011. 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 26, 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.
  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed to October 30 for refurbishment.
  • Oak Trail Golf Course – closed November 15-21 for refurbishment.
  • Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses – closed October 31 to November 15 and November 21-22 for refurbishment.
  • Palm Golf Course – closed November 23 to December 2 for refurbishment.
  • Magnolia Golf Course – closed December 1–10 for refurbishment.

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 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:

  • Now through 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 Web site (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 Julie China)

Julie China first visited Disneyland in 1974 when she was very, very young. She re-discovered the Disney theme parks during her 1993 honeymoon to Walt Disney World. Ever since then, Julie and her husband have made annual, and sometimes even multiple trips each year, to Disney World. Julie funds her Disney vacations by working as an attorney in Honolulu, Hawaii.