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Update for November 1 – November 7, 2010

Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions

News and Views

Fewer guests using Disney’s Magical Express | Disney hotel rooms to be sold on Priceline | Military ticket offer | 40th Children’s Miracle Network Classic | Casting Call: Seeking Orlando-area homeowners who want a Disney backyard makeover | Robert Olszewski product release and signing | Future leaders forum | Showtime on the Disney Dream | Sunday brunch at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop | Construction update | Quick takes

Fewer guests using Disney’s Magical Express

The Orlando Sentinel (link) reports that ridership aboard Disney’s Magical Express, the complimentary shuttle and luggage service between Orlando International Airport and Walt Disney World resort hotels, has seen a decline in 2010 when compared to last year. From January to September, Disney transported about 64,000 fewer passengers (3.8 percent) to its hotels as compared to the same period last year. This decline is striking, because Orlando International has seen a 1.9-percent increase in passenger traffic during the same period. According to airport data, this decline began late last year, and has continued through most of 2010. In its worst month, February, ridership was down 10.5 percent from a year earlier.


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Experts are not sure why, or whether it is the scaling back of Disney discounts or the opening of Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando, but whatever the reason, the shift is significant because Magical Express riders are likely to spend their entire vacation—and entire vacation budget—on Disney property.

Disney hotel rooms to be sold on Priceline

In another article, the Orlando Sentinel (link) reports that travel booking Web site Priceline will start selling Walt Disney World hotel rooms starting mid-November. The rooms will only be available through the site's conventional booking engine, not its “Name Your Own Price” service.

Disney hotel rooms have been available through other travel booking sites such as Expedia and Travelocity since 2002, but Disney shunned Priceline at least in part because of concerns that making its hotel rooms available through the site would undercut its premium-brand image. Disney now faces falling occupancy rates—during Disney’s fiscal third quarter ending July 3, occupancy rates fell 8.8 percent from a year ago, to 83 percent—and the move also reflects Priceline’s growing importance within the on-line travel industry.

Military ticket offer


The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flew over the Magic Kingdom on October 26, 2010 to commemorate the start of “Air Force Week” which took place October 26-31, 2010. (Diana Zalucky, photographer. Photo © Disney.)

From now through September 28, 2011, active and retired U.S. military personnel can purchase 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets with either the Park Hopper or Water Parks Fun and More option for $138 per ticket, plus tax, or with both the Park Hopper and Water Parks Fun and More options for $165 per ticket, plus tax. No Base ticket is available with this offer.

The tickets expire and may not be used after October 1, 2011. The tickets may not be used at all Walt Disney World theme parks and other gated attractions on the following blockout dates: December 27-31, 2010 and April 17-23, 2011. Additionally, the tickets may not be used at the Magic Kingdom on July 4, 2011.

Eligible service members include active or retired members of the U.S. military including the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reservists. Disney Military Promotional Tickets can be purchased at Shades of Green or at a participating military base (MWR/ITT) office. There is no tax charged for these tickets but they must be activated at a theme park ticket window. Tickets may also be purchased at Walt Disney World Park Ticket Offices and Guest Relations Offices where tax will be charged. No more than six tickets may be purchased by any eligible member of the U.S. military (or their spouse, but not both) for themselves, family members, and friends, and all tickets must be purchased at the same time. If the immediate family has more than five dependants, additional tickets may be purchased for the dependants, however, additional tickets for guests may not be purchased. Valid military identification is required. The tickets are non-transferable and may not be resold.

The tickets may be upgraded to Seasonal Passes or Florida Resident Weekday Select Passes (for Florida Residents), or Annual Passes, Premium Annual Passes, or Disney Premier Pass with credit toward the upgrade based on the actual price paid. The no-expiration option and other upgrades, such as additional days, are not available.

For complete information regarding Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets, military personnel may call (407) 939-7830 or participating U.S. military base ticket offices.

40th Children’s Miracle Network Classic

The 40th Children’s Miracle Network Classic will be held at Disney’s Magnolia and Palm Golf Courses November 11 through 14. Three-time PGA Tour winner Chris DiMarco and Golf Channel’s "Big Break Disney Golf" winner Mike Perez have received sponsor’s exemption to compete, and celebrities such as retired basketball player Julius “Dr. J” Erving and retired baseball outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr. will headline the two-day pro-am field. Stephen Ames, however, will not be defending his title due to a back injury. Net proceeds for the event will go to Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.

Guests at the Classic will have an opportunity to experience the Wine & Dine Walk, throughout the back nine holes of Disney’s Magnolia Golf Course. Patterned after the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, five specialty locations will offer culinary pairings of tapas-sized appetizers, entrees, desserts and wines.

The event will be televised live each day on the Golf Channel. Tickets for individual rounds are $10, badges for the Classic week are $20, and the new one-day Wine & Dine ticket, which is good for five entrees (one at each location) and one beverage, is $45. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Children’s Miracle Network Classic Web site (link).

Casting Call: Seeking Orlando-area homeowners who want a Disney backyard makeover

Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix reported this in her blog post.

MousePlanet just got a note from a producer of a new home makeover show, and they are seeking Orlando-area homeowners who want a Disney makeover of their backyard.

“We're going to help Orlando families who love Disney turn their ugly backyards into Disney wonderlands. We're teaming up with Disney (who will dream up the designs), local contractors and some very lucky homeowners to turn plain backyards into a yard the kids will love.”

“The show is being shot early next year, and we need to find the Orlando families now. We need contact info and pictures of homeowners, pictures of the backyard and a brief letter detailing why they want a Disney backyard makeover. Send info to casting@jaytv.net.”

JayTV is the production company behind the Desperate Landscapes show, so that give you an idea of what kind of show this might be. And I really wish I lived in Orlando. Good luck to anyone who applies.

Robert Olszewski product release and signing

Miniaturist Robert Olszewski will be on hand for a special appearance and signing in celebration of his latest releases, Emporium and Market House from the Magic Kingdom. Here are his appearance dates, times and locations:

  • Saturday, November 6, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to noon, and 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Art of Disney, Downtown Disney Marketplace
  • Sunday, November 7, 2010 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., Uptown Jewelers, Magic Kingdom Park

Mr. Olszewski appeared on MouseStation on January 23, 2008 and November 27, 2008.

Future leaders forum

Fifty students from The First Tee are heading to Walt Disney World Resort November 11-14 for the fourth annual Future Leaders Forum sponsored by The Toro Company. The purpose of the forum is to help students broaden leadership skills, prepare for college and explore career disciplines within the game of golf, which follows the mission of The First Tee organization.

The students will participate in “Disney’s Leadership Excellence: The Inside Track” program that teaches leadership strategies, techniques and behaviors of successful Walt Disney World executives. The program includes presentations by the Disney Institute, Toro, PGA of America, The Golf Channel, Marriott Golf and The Children’s Miracle Network, and a behind-the-scenes look at a PGA Tour golf event. More information is available at the future leaders forum Web site (link).

Showtime on the Disney Dream


Disney’s Believe. Photo © Disney.

On Saturday, the Disney Dream cruise ship floated out of the enclosed building dock at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany where it is being constructed. USA Today's Cruise Log was there and here are their photos (link). The ship will undergo more than a month more of interior finishing before being delivered to Disney.

When the Disney Dream embarks on its inaugural cruise in January 2011, guests on-board will enjoy some of the most elaborate original musicals presented at sea, over-the-top deck parties and, bursting above it all, the largest fireworks spectacular aboard a cruise ship.

Headlining at Walt Disney Theatre, an elegant, 1,340-seat entertainment palace, is “Disney’s Believe,” an original stage spectacular that combines a heartfelt story with a captivating musical score. It tells the story of a workaholic father who, through the power of Disney magic, reconnects with his daughter. More than 20 Disney characters including Cinderella, Peter Pan, Mary Poppins, Belle, Rafiki, and Princess Tiana appear in “Disney’s Believe.” Other productions include “The Golden Mickeys: A Timeless Tribute” featuring new production numbers, and “Villians Tonight!”

Guests will also enjoy the “Pirates IN the Caribbean” evening events which include “Mickey’s Pirates IN the Caribbean,” an interactive show featuring Disney characters, “Club Pirate,” a high-tech, open-air dance party, and “Buccaneer Blast!,” the pyrotechnic spectacular choreographed to a score featuring songs from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies, Peter Pan and the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at the Disney theme parks. Here is a video of all the entertainment from Disney Parks. Disney has released a video showing a line-up of entertainment abord the Dream (link).

Sunday brunch at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop

Emeril’s Tchoup Chop, located at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, now serves a three-course Sunday Brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The prix-fixe menu offers a choice of sunrise starters, soups or salads, and entrees, with prices ranging from $22 to $28, depending on the entrée choice. Entrée selections include Emeril’s red marble petite filet mignon with wild mushroom pan gravy, eggs Benedict with poached eggs on fried rice cakes with sriracha hollandaise, brioche French toast with fresh berries and passion fruit coulis, and more.

Tchoup Chop also serves a special meal for children 12 and under called the Keiki Brunch Box, which includes fresh fruit and berries with whipped cream, a crispy breakfast eggroll, and French toast with maple syrup, for $13.

To make a brunch, lunch or dinner reservation, call (407) 503-2467 or visit the Emeril's Web site (link).

Construction update

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

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom parking lot access road: mill and overlay work.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: electrical work.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios ADA lot: mill and overlay work.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: antenna installation.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror trailer installation.
  • Epcot parking lot entry road, parking lot entrance ramp, tram lane, tram loading and unloading area: mill and overlay work.
  • Epcot cell tower site: electrical work.
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon: construction work.
  • Downtown Disney: Disney Quest carpentry work.
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports: HESS Sports Fields drainage work.
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort: South Garden Wing plumbing work.
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort: Convention Center audio/video work.
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort: Electrical work.
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort: Meadow Swimmin’ Pool mechanical work.
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: Main Building plumbing work.
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: Conch Key mechanical and electrical work.
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort: Great Ceremonial House mechanical work.
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort: low voltage cable installation.

Quick takes …

…Mark Goldhaber reported that the members of the Service Trades Council Union (STCU), the union that represents 20,000 Walt Disney World workers, voted down what Walt Disney World said was its best offer. Now, WESH Orlando (link) is reporting that last Wednesday, Disney rejected a counter proposal by the STCU. The current contract extension is effective until November 8.

…There are no evening extra magic hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom scheduled for after February 23, 2011. Park hours are currently listed through May 2011.

…The Orlando Sentinel (link) reports that Jess Rubio, 77, a former caricaturist at Disneyland who turned his talent into a franchise, died on October 22, 2010, from a sudden illness. Rubio Arts Corp. employs 78 portrait or caricature artists at Disney theme parks in Orlando and Anaheim, and if you have had your portrait or caricature done at a Disney theme park since 1962, it was probably a Rubio artist who drew it.

…According to the official Disney Parks blog (link), two new species of animals have joined Disney’s Animal Kingdom, five male addax on the Kilimanjaro Safaris and two, a male and a female, emperor tamarins on the trail to Conservation Station in Rafiki’s Planet Watch. Addax are a kind of African antelope best known for their long, corkscrew horns. Once widespread across North Africa, the addax population has been severely reduced due to over-hunting and drought. Addax are critically endangered with estimates indicating that there are fewer than 300 in the wild. Emperor tamarins live in Brazil, Peru, and Bolivia, and there are only 34 emperor tamarins in U.S. zoological parks.

…Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade at Disney's Animal Kingdom will not be performed the week of November 7 to 13 to provide some quiet time while cotton top tamarins are moving and adapting to their new habitat around the base of the Tree of Life.

…A post on the official Disney Parks Blog (link) reveals that when Star Tours: The Adventures Continues opens in May 2011 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the pilot for the Starspeeder 1000 will be none other than C-3PO!

…The Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party has been extended to December 29. The party includes a self-service buffet of dessert and beverages, and a great location for viewing Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom. Call (407) 939-3463 for reservations. Admission to Magic Kingdom is required.

…When it opens next year, Aulani, Disney's newest Disney Vacation Club resort being constructed on Oahu, will have a vibrant rainbow collage in its lobby created from 134 photographs taken by elementary through high school students across the State of Hawaii. Students were asked to capture the essence of the islands while focusing on a single color. Here is a video of the winning photographs (link) The Children’s Digital Image Rainbow Project is a collaboration between Aulani, the Hawaii Arts Alliance and the State of Hawaii, Department of Business, and Economic Development & Tourism, Creative Industries Division.

…The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon is 89 percent full, the Half Marathon is 92 percent full, Goofy's Race-and-a-Half Challenge is 89 percent full, Buzz & Woody's Best Friends 5K is 90 percent full, and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest is 72 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).

…Gurufocus.com (link) reports that James A. Rasulo, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Walt Disney Company sold 100,000 shares of DIS (The Walt Disney Company) stock on October 26, 2010 at an average price of $35.9 a share.

…Brian Besanceney was named Senior Vice President, Walt Disney World Public Affairs and Worldwide Government and Industry Relations. Besanceney will oversee all media relations, internal communications and community relations for Walt Disney World Resort as well as all government and industry relations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts worldwide. Additionally, Besanceney will retain the responsibilities of his previous position as vice president, Public Affairs for Business Development, overseeing all public affairs efforts for business development at existing Parks and Resorts businesses and new projects.

…Don't forget that the Benefit Sale, a special discount sale benefiting charity, take place at Downtown Disney this Saturday, November 6, from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m. Here's Mark Goldhaber's write-up.

…Disney Parks has released the following television spot for the holiday season called Small World Holidays. In it, a ship with children sails through the sky around the world and lands in the Magic Kingdom.

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Coming up

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
    • 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.