The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has now installed Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) scanners at Orlando International Airport. The highly controversial "backscatter radiation" machines allow TSA officers to see the outlines of nude bodies to look for concealed explosives. Depending on the length of lines, it is likely that it will be a random sampling of passengers that are selected for this screening. Those passengers who opt out of this screening will be subject to a full-body patdown that includes security personnel using the front of their hands to feel the passenger's genitals and to female passengers' breasts.
The images from the AIT scanners are viewed by TSA personnel at a remote location where they do not see the travelers who are going into the scanners, and the TSA screeners who shepherd the passenters into the scanners do not have access to the images. The TSA claims that the AIT scanners are perfectly safe, that the images cannot be saved from the remote viewing location used by the screeners, and that no cameras, cell phones or other recording devices are allowed in the viewing location. That has not pacified its critics, however, who claim that either they have to submit to having pornographic images taken of themselves or submit to a sexual assault by uniformed government personnel. Some of the backlash includes an organized attempt at a "National Opt Out Day" (scheduled for Wednesday, November 24, the day before Thanksgiving and typically the busiest travel day of the year), and airline pilots and flight attendants organizing against the new screenings with some claiming that the screenings left them mentally unable to continue work.
The TSA says that the enhanced screening is necessary to protect flights, especially in light of the inability of previous scanners to detect the plastic explosives hidden in the underwear of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab last Christmas Day. The Nigerian passed through security in Amsterdam and got onto Northwest Flight 253 bound for Detroit, but failed to detonate his bomb.
For more information and to make up your own mind, go to the TSA Web site (link) and National Opt Out Day Web site (link). Note: These sites show sample images of what can be seen using AIT scanners. The images show "naked" bodies, and may not be safe for work, or for those with sensitivity to nude photos.
There are other security measures recently added, with a new requirement that the name, gender and birth date on each passenger's ticket must match the same information on a government-issued ID. The information is generally collected by the airline, as each passenger must be approved before the airline can issue a boarding pass.
Meanwhile, the Clear program (link) has returned to Orlando International Airport. The registered traveler program, which provides an expedited lane through security, started up again at the airport on Tuesday as the first airport to mark the return of the program. The previous operator of the program, Verified Identity Pass (VIP), ran out of money and shut down the program in June 2009. The company's assets were bought by AlClear LLC, and they have been cleared to resume the program. AlClear has signed a 10-year contract wtih the airport. Be warned that this will not allow you to automatically bypass the AIT scanners. New memberships cost $179 per year. AlClear is honoring the old contracts of those who had signed up under VIP.
Robert Garrigus won the Children's Miracle Network Classic golf tournament at Walt Disney World yesterday, coming from five strokes behind Roland Thatcher on the last day to win by three strokes. Thatcher had raced to 18 below par by the tourney's second day, but made a number of costly mistakes on the back nine both of the last two days, finishing out at even par for the last two days. Garrigus finished with an eight-under-par 64 on Sunday to jump from a third-place tie to win at 21 strokes under par. Thatcher held on to finish second, earning just enough money to avoid having to go through Qualifying School to participate on the PGA Tour next year. Garrigus' five-stroke comeback was one stroke off the record for a comeback win at Disney.
In the other big result from the tournament, Troy Merritt won the $1 million Kodak Challenge in a sudden-death playoff after the tournament itself had ended. The Kodak Challenge selects one picturesque hole at each of 30 tournaments, and the golfer with the lowest combined score against par on their best 18 of those holes wins $1 million. Going into the Children's Miracle Network Classic, Merritt had been in the lead for the challenge by one stroke. On the 17th hole of the Magnolia Course, the selected hole for the tourney, Aaron Baddeley and Rickie Fowler, who had been tied for second one stroke back from Merritt, both scored a birdied the hole during the opening rounds. Merritt failed to get a birdie on the during the tournament, leading to the playoff. In the playoff, Fowler and Baddeley both parred the hole, while Merritt finally got his birdie. During the tournament itself, Merritt scored just high enough to finish 125th on the money list, barely keeping his Tour card and avoiding Q-School. He then won the $1 million prize on top of his $26,179 earnings for the tournament itself.
Do you want to write for MousePlanet?
MousePlanet is looking for some new feature writers to expand our coverage of Walt Disney World. We're looking for new topics or perspectives that we may not be addressing right now. Some examples are:
If you've got a topic or perspective that you think would be a worthy addition to our site, let us know! We're looking for talented writers with strong journalistic skills. If you live in Central Florida and may be able to cover press events (potentially including mid-week press events), that may be considered a plus.
If you think that you've got what it takes to join our staff, send an email to Mark Goldhaber with your idea for a topic or perspective that you'd like to cover and a little information about yourself. If we like your concept, we may ask you to prepare a sample article or two and submit it for consideration.
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Pollo Campero opened on Friday at Downtown Disney Marketplace on the former site of McDonald's. The location actually features two dining options, Pollo Campero and Fresh A-Peel.
Pollo Campero offers guests the opportunity to put together an individual "meal" or a "feast" for three or four persons, with their choice of entrees and sides, plus warm corn tortillas for the feast. Feast entrees include fried chicken, citrus grilled chicken, and chicken strips, while meal entree choices include those three plus a chicken sandwich. Sides are black beans & white rice, compero rice, sweet plantains, yuca fries, french fries, campero beans, cole slaw, and chips & fresh salsa. Kids meals are also available, featuring the same entrees as the family feasts.
Fresh A-Peel features eight types of salads (most of which include meat of some sort), burgers (beef, turkey, or veggie), beef hot dogs, and chicken sausage. The Kid A-Peel menu features peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, roasted turkey, burgers, hot dogs, and sausage.
The location is open for breakfast featuring French toast, breakfast burritos and empanadas, fresh fruit, made to order oatmeal, and various beverages.
Ready-made sandwiches, snacks, fruit, nuts and desserts are also available. All stations are in one room, and guests will proceed through a set of cashier stations prior to entering the seating area.
As we noted previously in our "Refurbishments/Attraction Closures" section, Playhouse Disney – Live On Stage is getting a makeover to match the rebranding of the kids' program block on the Disney Channel. After its closure from January 30 to March 5, it reopens as Disney Junior – Live On Stage. The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and Little Einsteins segments will remain, and a new segment will be added (themed to "Jake and the Never Land Pirates," announced as the newest Disney Junior series). Disney Junior debuts as a program block on the Disney Channel in February 2011, and will become its own basic cable channel in 2012.
The Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade will be recorded in the Magic Kingdom December 3-4. Registration for participation in the event opened and closed on Friday. The event will still be open to the general public, though reserved areas will be set aside only for those with special event tickets. Be aware that the event causes some gridlock along the parade route between Cinderella Castle and Town Square, as floats may be run down the street multiple times to get the desired camera shots, and performances in front of the castle make it difficult to get through that area. If you can get back to the lands beyond the hub, you may experience lighter crowds due to the focus on the parade.
The Disney Dream has successfully transited the 26 miles downriver from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany to Eemshaven, The Netherlands in preparation for sea trials. The ship has begun testing its engines, and will do some extensive testing at sea before returning to drydock in Hamburg, Germany for its final internal fittings and testing. The ship will make a final trip to Bremerhaven, Germany for its official delivery ceremony from Meyer Werft to Disney Cruise Line. At that time, it will begin its trans-Atlantic transit to its home port of Port Canaveral, Florida. The Dream will have a short christening cruise departing on January 19 before its official inaugural voyage on January 26.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…A new Disney merchandise brand is looking for your electronics. "D-Tech" officially launches this Saturday, November 20, at the World of Disney stores in Florida and California. The line includes reversible laptop sleeves, iPhone covers, mousepads, journals and more.
…This week, if you're interested in checking out a Disney Vacation Club webinar, head over to DVCwebevent.com (link) and sign up. "Memories Unwrapped" will feature videos, music, updates on the upcoming Aulani Resort in Hawai'i, the latest DVC offers and more. Those attending the event will receive a free Disney lithograph.
…The inferno barge was missing for several nights last week at Illuminations. We have no explanation for this temporary show change. The barge has since returned to the show.
…Holiday sleigh rides will be available at Fort Wilderness during the month of December.
…According to new park maps, Mrs. Potts' Cupboard in the Magic Kingdom will shortly be known as Storybook Treats.
…Effective last Tuesday, the Regal Sun Resort in the Downtown Disney Resort Area has changed its name yet again, and is now known as the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort (link). The resort was originally known as the Dutch Inn when it opened in 1972. Over the years, it became Americana's Dutch Resort, the Grosvenor Resort, and finally the Regal Sun Resort before it's latest change last week. The hotel remains open and operations were unaffected by the name change.
…The 2011 Disney's Princess Half Marathon is 65 percent full. You can register at the official event web site (link).
…The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon is 92 percent full, the Half Marathon is 96 percent full, Goofy's Race-and-a-Half Challenge is 98 percent full, Buzz & Woody's Best Friends 5K is completely full, and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest is 89 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.