With Halloween in the rear-view mirror, it's time for Walt Disney World to move into the Christmas season. Christmas trees are already appearing around the property.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party kicks off its run tonight at the Magic Kingdom. It will run from 7 p.m. to midnight on 19 evenings through December 19. Starting December 20, most of the Party's entertainment takes place daily during park hours. The party events include Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Parade, the Holiday Wishes fireworks show, the Castle Dreamlights decoration of Cinderella Castle, as well as free hot cocoa, cookies and apple slices, and special character holiday meet-and-greets. Party dates are November 8, 11, 12, 16, 18, 19, 28, 30 and December 2, 3, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17 and 19. Don't forget to buy your tickets in advance to take advantage of any discounts that may be available. Most dates have general, Passholder, and Disney Vacation Club Member discounts available.
Also tonight, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights starts its official run at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and runs through January 3.
Over at Disney's Animal Kingdom, when the afternoon parade returns on Sunday, November 14, it will be in its Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade configuration. The parade is on hiatus this week to allow the cotton-top tamarinds to safely acclimatize to their new habitat, which is along the parade route.
As is tradition, Epcot begin its holiday festivities on November 26, the night after Thanksgiving. The special events include the holiday storytellers in each World Showcase pavilion, the Candlelight Processional, and the holiday tag for Illuminations.
If it's the holiday season, then it must be time for the Disney Institute to offer its holiday season tours.
The three-and-a-half-hour Yuletide Fantasy tour runs daily from November 30 through December 30 (except Christmas Day), and takes you backstage to Holiday Services, then off to see the decorations on stage (publically viewable) at Epcot, and the Magic Kingdom. This tour is limited to guests age 16 and older. Priced at $84 per person, this tour does not require theme park admission.
The five-hour Holiday D-Lights tour takes place during the evenings of November 29, 30, December 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14 and 15. On this tour, you visit the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios parks, and the decorating support area. While at Epcot, you have priority viewing for the Candlelight Processional. You also see the Cinderella's Holiday Wish ceremony to light the Castle Dreamlights at the Magic Kingdom. You even get to enjoy a light buffet dinner before you head over to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and then check out how decorating support creates the lighting displays. This tour is also limited to guests age 16 and older, and begins at 4:00 p.m. Priced at $199 per person, this tour also does not require park admission.
You can book both of these tours online (link) or by calling 407-WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687).
A strong field of 128 golfers takes on the Children's Miracle Network Classic at Walt Disney World this week. The 485-yard, par 4 tournament, to be played on the Palm and Magnolia courses, runs from Thursday through Sunday. The 40th annual tourney has been decided by one stroke or in sudden-death playoffs in 21 of the last 28 years. This is the fourth year that the Children's Miracle Network has been the event's sponsor.
The field, which includes Vijay Singh, Stewart Cink, Rickie Fowler, Jeff Overton, Tom Lehman, and Davis Love III, will vie for a total of $4.7 million in prize money. In addition, Fowler, Aaron Baddeley, and Troy Merritt are battling to take the first-ever $1 million Kodak Challenge, which will also be decided during the tournament. Last year's champion Stephen Ames will not be participating this year, but five former Classic champions are in the field, including Singh, Love, Joe Durant, John Huston and Ryan Palmer.
Thursday and Friday's rounds begin at 6:45 a.m. on both the Palm and Magnolia courses, with each player taking on each course once. The golfers with the 70 lowest scores (and ties) will play the last two rounds on Saturday and Sunday on the Magnolia course.
One-day tickets are available for $10, week-long badges are $20 and a new one-day Wine & Dine Walk ticket (giving you access to food, beer and wine stations positioned along key holes) is $45. All can be purchased online (link). Free admission is available if you play any Disney golf course from now through Wednesday, and Walt Disney World Passholders can get a free one-day ticket at the Will Call tent by showing a Passholder ID.
This weekend, Downtown Disney will be filled by the Festival of the Masters, a juried art festival celebrating its 35th year. The shopping and dining area will be populated with 145 award-winning fine artists, 200 chalk artists and 40 folk artists, all displaying their works in paint, photography, sculpture, jewelry and more. The show requires each artist to have won a primary award in a juried art show within the past four years in order to participate. Chalk artists will be located on the Marketplace side, while the rest of the artists will be located at the West Side.
The event also features live music, specialty foods and family-friendly activities. Not enough? How about this? You'll also have an opportunity to see and play the new Disney Epic Mickey game for Nintendo Wii. The new, highly-anticipated game brings a whole new angle to Mickey, and you'll be able to get your first look at the Festival.
The show runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Admission and parking is free.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports (link) that Disney has signed another contract with Schussler Creative for a new themed restaurant at Pleasure Island. This time, the company behind the Rainforest Cafe, T-REX Cafe, and Yak & Yeti concepts has created Mahogany Bay Classic Old Boats and Great Food, which will apparently be located around the current location of the Rock 'n' Roll Beach Club and Motion. We're hearing through other sources that the theme for the restaurant is "boats and root beer floats," and that it will be an interactive dining experience. Hat tip to the Save Pleasure Island blog (link) for bringing it to our attention.
Walt Disney World Passholders are receiving a bit of extra love this season, with a host of special offers available to them. In addition to the usual Passholder discount on tickets to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, there's a special ship-board credit offer from the Disney Cruise Line, a gift card offer from Adventures by Disney, complimentary tickets to the Children's Miracle Network Classic and discounts around World Showcase and all of Walt Disney World.
Passholders who book a 3- or 4-night Bahamian cruise on the Disney Dream with a sailing date between December 1-22, 2011 will receive a $50 onboard credit. Those booking a 6- or 7-night Eastern or Western Caribbean cruise aboard the Disney Magic with a sailing date between December 3-24, 2011 will receive a $100 onboard credit. Bookings must be for a stateroom in a category from 4A to 11B, and must be made using the booking code PASS. Proof of Walt Disney World Passholder status must be provided prior to the final payment. Changes to the cabin category or sail date may result in a loss of the offer.
If Adventures by Disney is more your speed, Passholders who book at the non-discounted Regular Rate by December 31 for selected itineraries with a departure date before April 24, 2012 will receive a Disney Visa gift card valued at $150 prior to departure on their trip. For more information, to go the special offer page (link). This offer is good on new bookings only. The Passholder must travel on the package booked. This offer must be mentioned to the agent at the time of booking. To book, call 866-953-7872 or contact your travel agent. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Passholders who go to Disney's Palm and Magnolia Golf Courses on one of the tournament days for the Children's Miracle Network Classic golf tournament (this Thursday through Sunday) can go to the Will Call tent, present their Passholder ID and receive a complimentary Good Any One Day ticket.
Shoppers will delight in the fact that Passholders will get 10 percent off select merchandise at Walt Disney World Resort stores from now through January 10, 2011. If you're a Premium Passholder, it's even better: you can save 20 percent. You'll need to present your Passholder ID to get the discount.
There are also three new offers around Epcot's World Showcase from December 4-11. You can receive a free travel cup at Twinings Tea Shop at the United Kingdom pavilion when you spent at least $20 (pre-tax, post-discount) on Twinings branded products. The Givenchy boutique at the France pavilion will provide a free Very Irrésistible Givenchy "deluxe miniature sample" with any purchase of a 50ml or larger spray from the Givenchy Women's Fragrance Collection. And the new Karamelle-Küche at the Germany pavilion will give you a free small-sized bag of freshly-made Caramel Corn just for stopping by! Each offer is limited to one per guest per day, and all require a valid Passholder ID and government-issued photo ID to redeem. Offers are only good in person on new purchases, and are available while supplies last.
DVCNews.com has once again found designs for a new Disney Vacation Club resort on an architectural firm's Web site under "upcoming projects," only to have it disappear shortly after it was reported. Unfortunately, this time it appears that they were not able to save the images before the Web page suddenly disappeared. According to the story (link), the "California Coast Resort" being designed by George Coon, Inc. would be located near the Coronado Springs Resort and Disney's Hollywood Studios. The 1,208-unit resort—which would be the largest DVC resort by over 35 percent—would be themed to various parts of California, including Venice Beach, Casa del Mar, Montage, the Balboa Pavilion, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, and Santa Barbara. An all-California theme has proven rocky for a theme park (Disney California Adventure); it will be interesting to see how the theme works for a resort.
The design is estimated for completion in 2012. Coon had previously created the design for Disney's Eagle Pines Resort, which was announced in late 2001 and canceled not long afterward.
Walt Disney World's stalled talks with the Service Trades Council Union (STCU) are now headed for a federal mediator. The two sides are scheduled to meet with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on December 2. In the meantime, they have agreed to extend the current agreement until December 11. Mediators are not unusual in negotiations between Disney and the STCU, as the most recent contract in 2007 was the first time since 1995 that mediation was not needed. The two sides turned to mediation in 1998, 2001 and 2004. The contract under negotiation affects nearly 21,000 full-time employees in dozens of job types covered by the six member unions of the STCU umbrella organization.
The union members voted down the first contract agreed to by negotiators for both sides last month. Last week, the union offered up a new proposal that was shot down by Disney, and then the union rejected an offer by Disney of the same contract that had just been voted down—less the $100-per-employee bonus that Disney had offered for ratification on the first vote.
Both sides still state that "reaching an agreement on a new contract remains a priority."
The college basketball match-ups have been announced for the Old Spice Classic at the ESPN Wide World of Sports over Thanksgiving Weekend. Round 1 takes place on November 25, kicking off with Boston College taking on Texas A&M at noon. That game will be followed by Wisconsin vs. Manhattan at 2 p.m. The evening session features Georgia vs. Notre Dame at 7 p.m. and Temple taking on California at 9 p.m. November 26 will feature face-offs between the two afternoon winners, the two afternoon losers, the two evening winners and the two evening losers. The teams will then be seeded, with the two undefeated teams playing for the tournament championship in November 28, while the other teams play to determine the final standings for places 3-8. The championship game will take place at 7 p.m. Games will be broadcast on ESPN2.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…Walt Disney: One Man's Dream has reopened at Disney's Hollywood Studios with some great new enhancements. The actual Audio-Animatronics figure of Abraham Lincoln that debuted at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair, as well as sections of the original model for "it's a small world" have both been added to the displays. New costumes, models and props have also been added, along with updated displays of new projects and coming attractions. A new area called "The Legacy Continues," focusing on the last four decades, will open in December. The finale film, One Man's Dream, hosted by Julie Andrews, remains (Andrews replaced Michael Eisner as host shortly after Eisner left the company.)
…If you're looking to talk with Disney Cruise Line representatives while you're at Walt Disney World, you won't be able to chat with them at the hospitality desks at each resort much longer. Effective December 5, those desks will no longer be operating. The only time that you'll be able to find representatives will be at the resorts on departure days. When they are there, they'll still be able to help you with your luggage transfers, buses to the port, driving directions if you're not taking the bus, and other issues as may arise. However, you won't be able to check in for your cruise in advance; you'll need to check in at the cruise line terminal. You'll also still get your departure notices delivered to your room the day before you sail to confirm your pickup time. If you need to set up ground transportation from Walt Disney World to your cruise after you've checked into your resort, you'll need to call DCL at 1-866-325-6685 to take care of that.
…Another sponsor is signing off from Innoventions. Velcro Companies has announced that it will not renew its contract when it expires on February 5. If you'd like to see the "What's Your Problem?" show at Slap Stick Studios one more time, you've got until its last show on February 4.
…The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival wraps up this week. It's your last chance to get in on the great international food kiosks. It's also your last chance to hear the Eat to the Beat concert series performances. Closing out the season are Hanson (today and tomorrow), Rick Springfield (Wednesday and Thursday) and this editor's personal favorite Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (Friday through Sunday). Concerts take place at the America Gardens Theatre at 5:15, 6:30 and 7:45 p.m. and are included in Epcot admission.
…The Travel Channel's Samantha Brown was spotted filming at Epcot yesterday. The show is slated to air in February.
…Snuggie-like "blankets with armholes" are now on sale at Walt Disney World in multiple patterns for $29.
…DVCNews.com is reporting (link) that the Disney Vacation Club has raised the financing rates for new members. While current members can still finance add-on point purchases for 10.75 percent, new members will finance their original buy-in for up to 10 years at 11.75 percent or 15.75 percent, depending on whether or not the member qualifies for the "preferred" credit level. Reported rates assume a 10 percent down payment and scheduled direct debit of monthly payments. Of course, all members are still free to arrange for outside financing for their purchase. In many cases, home equity loans will provide a lower price for borrowers.
…The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon is 91 percent full, the Half Marathon is 94 percent full, Goofy's Race-and-a-Half Challenge is 97 percent full, Buzz & Woody's Best Friends 5K is completely full, and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest is 81 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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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:
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).
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:
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).
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:
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).
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.
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:
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).
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).
(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.