Contract negotiations between Walt Disney World and the Service Trades Council Union (STCU)—its largest labor organization, representing about 21,000 full-time workers as well as thousands of part-timers covered under a separate contract—are still bogged down after a session with a federal mediator on Thursday failed to produce an agreement. A statement on the union's Web site stated, "The Council met with the Company and a Federal Mediator. Proposals were exchanged, but they were unable to reach agreement. The Council has requested more information to assist in making additional proposals and plans to schedule future discussions."
Meanwhile, the union has upped the ante, releasing a film last Tuesday that it says documents the tough economic situation that many cast members find themselves in. Mouse Trapped 2010 follows a similar format to the union's first Mouse Trapped film released during the 2004 contract negotiations, and is largely a series of talking heads, in many cases discussing the exact same points as the previous film. Cast members describe living "paycheck to paycheck," and one cast member says, "After three years, I'm not even at $8 [per hour in wages]."
One cast member working at the Transportation & Ticket Center, who is identified as Brian, notes: "I love what I do but I can't stand what I get paid." Union complaints include the fact that increases in health care costs in Disney's contract proposal will eat up the three percent raises offered for each of the next three years.
Members of the union picketed outside the Hotel Plaza Boulevard entrance to Disney property on Tuesday night after the film's debut.
It's uncertain how quickly the two sides will go back to the bargaining table. According to a report on Central Florida News 13 (link), Disney and union officials don't even negotiation in the same room, but rather the mediator goes back and forth between two separate rooms to relay the discussions from the other side.
Negotiations have been ongoing since June. The two sides have agreed to extend the existing 42-month contract (which expired October 2) three times while negotiations continued, but the current extension expires December 11, and there's no telling when they might come to an agreement.
The 27th annual Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade telecast will have a very strong reality-show and Disney Channel feel this year. With American Idol host Ryan Seacrest and America's Got Talent host Nick Cannon emceeing the ceremonies from Walt Disney World and Disneyland respectively, the two hot shows are front and center for the broadcast. In addition to the hosts, those competition shows will also be represented by the reigning American Idol champion Lee DeWyze and this season America's Got Talent runner-up Jackie Evancho.
Representing the Disney Channel, Selena Gomez from Wizards of Waverly Place and Debby Ryan of The Suite Life on Deck will be singing "Winter Wonderland" and "Deck the Halls," respectively. Ryan's song appears on the soundtrack of the new direct-to-DVD Disney film The Search for Santa Paws, so of course she'll be joined by Santa Paws on the telecast. Providing more Disney Channel connections, four professional dancers from ABC-TV's Dancing With The Stars will perform while Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performs "Christmas Is Starting Now" from the album Phineas & Ferb: Holiday Favorites, and Phineas & Ferb themselves appear in the parade portion of the show.
Other performers scheduled to appear include Mariah Carey (performing "Oh Santa" and "All I Want For Christmas Is You"), Darius Rucker ("Candy Cane Christmas"), Sean Kingston ("This Christmas"), and Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes Jones on the TV show Glee.
The parade segment will include Mickey and the gang, a plethora of princesses, Lightning McQueen and Mater, Woody and Jessie, and newest merchandise character Duffy the Disney Bear. Darth Vader and the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers will make their first Magic Kingdom appearance to promote the upcoming Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, opening in May at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland Park in California.
In addition, Maria Menounos will do supplemental hosting duties around Walt Disney World and Samantha Brown will chime in with reports on the Disney Dream cruise ship, launching in January, and Aulani, the newest Disney Vacation Club resort opening in August in Hawaii.
The parade telecast airs on Christmas Day at different times in each time zone: Noon to 2 p.m. Eastern, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central, 10 a.m. to noon Mountain, and 5 to 7 p.m. Pacific. Those in Los Angeles, however, will be able to see the parade earlier than the rest of the West Coast, with the broadcast running from 9 to 11 a.m.
You can also get more information about the broadcast at the parade's own Web site (link). You can sign up to receive mobile text alerts about the program by sending an SMS message with PARADE to 37275 (DPARK). Note that message and data rates may apply, and participants under 18 years of age must have a parent or guardian's permission.
An SUV hit a monorail support pillar in the Epcot parking lot around 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon, causing Disney to temporarily halt operation of the monorail while Disney assessed the extent of the damage. There were conflicting reports as to the status of the driver of the SUV, with the Orlando Sentinel reporting that there were no injuries (link), while Central Florida News 13 reported that the driver of the car was taken to a hospital in unknown condition (link), and WESH reported that the driver was taken to Celebration Hospital in serious condition (link). The monorail resumed operation without further incident.
The 18th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival taking place from March 2 through May 15, 2011, will feature Toy Story 3-themed topiaries in the main entrance flower bed, the first time in seven years that all-new topiaries will have that place of honor. Tinker Bell debuted in the front planter in 2004. The topiaries will include Buzz Lightyear, Woody and Lots-o'-Huggin' Bear, with "Lotso" emitting a strawberry smell as he purportedly does in the movie.
In addition to 2010's Disney-Pixar hit in the front planter, the studio's 2011 release will be featured in the World Showcase Plaza topiary bed, as Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars 2 will park below a checkered arch, with the flags of the countries visited by the cars in next year's movie (Japan, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom) also appearing in floral form. The movie will debut on June 24, 2011.
All of that Pixar attention doesn't mean that Walt Disney Animation Studios is being ignored. That studio's summer 2011 release, The Winnie the Pooh Movie, will be represented in the long planter along the causeway between Future World and World Showcase.
Meanwhile, plenty of returning features return from previous years, including a moved and enlarged butterfly house (this year themed to Bambi), the Guerlain Frangrance Garden, bonsai display, Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden, and more.
New features include Rapunzel's Tower in the Tangled Magical Garden between the Germany and Italy pavilions and a Healthy Living Garden.
Returning to the Festival Center are Disney Gardening at Home and other favorite programs. The Flower Power concert series will feature such returning favorites as Davy Jones, Chubby Checker & The Wildcats, and Paul Revere & the Raiders.
Special theme weekends include the returning Art in the Garden, I Dig Bugs, Fresh from Florida Farmer's Market, and a special Pixar Animation Studios celebration of the upcoming Cars 2.
It's only fitting that a technology-driven and technology-laden movie should inspire a technology-enhanced Disney gift card. With TRON: Legacy hitting theaters next week, Disney has launched TRON: Legacy Disney Gift Cards, which feature a QR code on the back. These quick response codes are two-dimensional bar codes optimized to work with smartphones with built-in cameras. Install a QR-code reader on your phone, use the camera to take a picture of the code, and the information encrypted in the code can bring you to a Web site, display text, launch an e-mail or text message application, or some other action. In this case, the QR code on the back of the gift card take you to the official TRON: Legacy Web site.
This QR code, if scanned, will take you to the MousePlanet website's home page.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…The Disney Dream arrived in Bremerhaven yesterday in preparation for its turnover to DisneY Cruise Line on Thursday. The ship will then sail to Port Canaveral, where it will have test sailings with friends and family of crew members starting early in January. The ship will be christened on January 19 and sail on its official maiden voyage on January 26.
…The 100 members of the 2011 class of Disney's Dreamers Academy will be announced today. Over 4,000 students applied for the program this year. This year, Essence magazine joins Steve Harvey as co-hosts of Disney's Dreamers Academy, which brings 100 students to Walt Disney World for a 4-day program designed to inspire them to achieve their dreams and keep dreaming. For the announcement, watch the Disney's Dreamers Academy Web site (link) or listen to the Steve Harvey Morning Show (link).
…A group of Cottontop Tamarins monkeys have finished acclimating to their new habitat near the Tree of Life, and are once again on display for guests to see. Another group of the one-pound monkeys with the white hair are also still along the walkway to Conservation Station at Rafiki's Planet Watch with golden lion tamarins and emperor tamarins. Cottontop Tamarins are a critically endangered species (fewer than 7,500 remain in the tropical forests of Colombia), and Disney is supporting the Proyecto Titi project (link) through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to help protect them.
…The match-up for the seventh annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge is set. The Bethune Cookman Wildcats of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and the Prairie View A&M Panthers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference will face off on September 4, 2011 at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando for the Disney-sponsored game. The game, between representatives of two conferences of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, is owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television, and the game will be broadcast on an ESPN network. Both teams will visit and be honored at Walt Disney World prior to the game. The MEAC holds a 4-2 lead in the series. This is the first time that each team is participating in the game; however prior to the advent of the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, Walt Disney World had sponsored the Florida Classic, the annual game between Bethune Cookman and Florida A&M.
…Registration is now open for the Champion 5K at during ESPN The Weekend (link). Sign up now!
…The 2011 Disney's Princess Half Marathon is 70 percent full for individual registrations and 65 percent full for team registrations. You can register at the official event web site (link).
…The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon is 96 percent full, the Half Marathon is 99 percent full, Goofy's Race-and-a-Half Challenge is 99 percent full, and the Buzz & Woody's Best Friends 5K and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest are completely 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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Discounts of 15-35 percent are available for room-only reservations for stays at Walt Disney World for most nights February 17 – April 16, 2011. Time is of the essence in making your reservation, though, as rates vary depending not only upon your dates of travel and the resort category at which you are staying, but also the date that you make your reservation. Discounts are 5 percentage points lower if you book by the end of the year.
|Resort category||Book by 12/31/10||Book 1/1/11–2/13/11|
|Value resorts||20 percent off||15 percent off|
|Moderate resorts, including Fort Wilderness Cabins||25 percent off||20 percent off|
|Deluxe Resorts *||20-35 percent off||15-25 percent off|
|Deluxe Villa Resorts||35 percent off||30 percent off|
* Note: Animal Kingdom Lodge is 20 percent off if booked by the end of the year or 15 percent off if booked between January 1 and February 13, 2011. Polynesian Resort is 25 percent off if booked by the end of the year or 20 percent off if booked between January 1 and February 13, 2011.
Deals are also available for January 2 – February 16, 2011. Discount percentages appear to match those for the other dates.
You can book the deal from now through February 13, 2011, with the deeper discount available for reservations made by December 31, 2010. Note that 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 407-939-7678, or your travel agent and using booking code XV9. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Passholders can save 32 to 42 percent off their room rates for stays at Walt Disney World for most nights February 6 – April 16, 2011. Rates vary depending on your dates of travel and the resort category at which you are staying:
Deals are also available for January 2 – February 5, 2011. Discount percentages appear to match those for the other dates.
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. Suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas are not included. An adult passholder must show their pass at check-in. 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 407-939-7939, or your travel agent and using booking code AU6. 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.
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 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.