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Update for December 20 – December 26, 2010

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News and Views

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will add more family suites and jobs | Enhancements to on-line dining reservation system | Extended parks hours from Christmas through the New Year | Disney Helping Kids Shine Grants available for eligible local non-profits | Disney Cast Members collect 26,000 toys for children in need | D23 special events for 2011 | Construction update | Quick takes

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort will add more family suites and jobs


Concept art for Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. © Disney.

Walt Disney World broke ground earlier this fall on its newest resort, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. The new resort will be located next to Diseny's Pop Century Resort. It is scheduled to open in phases beginning May 2012, with construction to be completed later in the year. The resort will feature four different wings and each will have its own theme featuring modern Disney movie classics such as Cars, Lion King, Little Mermaid, and Finding Nemo. The Finding Nemo wing will be the first to open.


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Disney’ Art of Animation Resort will have 1,120 family suites in The Lion King, Cars and Finding Nemo wings, and 864 standard rooms in The Little Mermaid wing. The suites will include a living room and a bedroom, making them larger than a standard room. The suites and standard rooms will be priced similar to rooms at other Disney “value” resorts. The suites will, of course, have a higher nightly rates. The new suites will increase by five-fold the existing number of family suites on Walt Disney World property, currently numbering at about 215.

Disney’ Art of Animation Resort will bring 1550 new jobs to Central Florida, 800 construction jobs now and 750 jobs in housekeeping and food-and-beverage services once the resort opens.

Enhancements to on-line dining reservation system

Disney continues to enhance its on-line dining reservation system (link). Most recently, the maximum number of people on a single reservation was increased to 14. Reservations can now be associated with your Disney Dining Plan. Special dining events such as the Chef's Tasting Wine Dinner at the Flying Fish Cafe, the Fantasmic! Dining Package at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party at Magic Kingdom, the Candlelight Dinner Package at Epcot, and Dine with an Imagineer at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, can be booked online.

Extended parks hours from Christmas through the New Year

All Walt Disney World theme parks will have extended hours during the week between Christmas and year’s end. From December 25 to January 1, Magic Kingdom will open every day at 7:00 a.m. for morning Extra Magic Hours. In addition to the attractions normally open during morning Extra Magic Hours, four additional attractions will be open, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin. Evening Extra Magic Hours on December 26 and 30 will keep the park open until 3:00 a.m. The park will be open until 2:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve.

From December 26 to 31, Epcot will open at 8 a.m. (7 a.m. on December 26, an Extra Magic Hours day), and remain open until 10:30 p.m. on December 29 and 30, and 1 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. World Showcase will open an hour earlier, at 10:00 a.m., from December 26 to 31.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will open at 7:00 a.m. on December 27 for morning Extra Magic Hours. The park will remain open until 3:00 a.m. for evening Extra Magic Hours on New Year’s Eve.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will open at 7:00 a.m. on December 25, 29, 30, and 31 for morning Extra Magic Hours. Evening Extra Magic Hours will keep the park open until 11:00 p.m. on December 27.

Disney Helping Kids Shine Grants available for eligible local non-profits

Grant applications are now available online (link) and will continue to be accepted through January 31, 2011, for the 2011 Disney Helping Kids Shine Grants program. In spring 2011, Disney will award grants ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 to non-profit organizations who help Central Florida children. To be eligible, the non-profit organization must serve Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Polk and Lake Counties. The eligible organization must show how it improves children's lives by connecting with adults, developing character, encourages constructive use of free time and compassion. Last year, Disney awarded $1.2 million in Disney Helping Kids Shine Grant awards to non-profit organizations and school districts.

Disney Cast Members collect 26,000 toys for children in need


Disney VoluntEARS, U.S. Marines, and Mickey Mouse making a delivery to Toys for Tots. © Disney.

Following the launch of its annual Toys for Tots collection drive on November 15, Walt Disney World Cast Member VoluntEARS have been hard at work collecting new toys for children in need. Through their efforts, more than 26,000 toys for children of all ages have been collected.

On December 15, the VoluntEARS, joined by Mickey Mouse and Duffy the Disney Bear, delivered the toys to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve's Central Florida Toys for Tots headquarters. Disney VoluntEARS and a squad of U.S. Marines unloaded and sorted the toys at the Toys for Tots headquarters.

The toys will be distributed by Central Florida Toys for Tots to 7,200 families in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. The goal of the annual toy drive is to ensure that children have at least one new gift to open for the holidays.

D23 special events for 2011

D23: The Official Disney Fan Club has announced its 2011 special events. More details, including all Disneyland Resort events, and information on becoming a D23 Member, can be found at the D23 Web site (link). Here is a list of 2011 events for the Walt Disney World Resort.

On May 12 and 13, D23 will host D23's Great Disney Scavenger Hunt: Walt Disney World. Teams of 2 to 4 people will make their way through all four Disney parks for a chance to win prizes (and bragging rights).

May 14 and 15 are the dates for Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th anniversary celebration. The celebration will include an evening of musical Walt Disney World memories and panel discussions hosted by Dave Smith on the topic of "Walt Disney World: The Way We Were," by Walt Disney Archives Director Becky Cline on "Weird Disney World," and a discussion on "Walt Disney World Through the Eye of Television."

The annual D23 Sip & Stroll event during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is scheduled for October 14 and 15.

Finally, December 17 and 18 are the dates for the annual D23 Magic and Merriment celebration at Walt Disney World.

All events are available to D23 members on a space-available basis. Event dates and times are subject to change.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom – Jungle Cruise construction work and boat storage annex mechanical work.
  • Magic Kingdom – Cinderella Castle construction work.
  • Magic Kingdom – Splash Mountain construction work.
  • Magic Kingdom – Car Care Center construction work.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Primeval Whirl electrical work.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Kali River Rapids construction work.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – sign re-installation work.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner construction work.
  • Epcot Canada Pavilion – dock repair.
  • Epcot Living Seas – mechanical work (heat exchanger replacement, isolation tank heat exchanger, denite pump replacement).
  • Epcot Living with the Land – greenhouse roof repair.
  • Fantasia Gardens – golf and entertainment building barricade.
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports – The Milk House electrical work.
  • Typhoon Lagoon – construction work.
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter – construction work.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Convention Center mechanical work.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – High Rock Springs Pool building mechanical work.

Quick takes …

…Central Florida continued to experience cold temperatures last week. Blizzard Beach, Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Show at Disney’ Polynesian Resort, and Kali River Rapids at Disney’ Animal Kingdom all experienced closure, cancellation, or reduced operating hours as a result of the weather.

…The 2010 Pop Warner Super Bowl and National Cheer and Dance Championships took place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex from December 4 to 11. The ESPN Web site has all the scores (link).

…The Dragon Legend Acrobats who perform daily at the China Pavilion in Epcot will be leaving when their contract ends in February 2011.

…Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort has several options for ringing in the New Year. The Maya Grill and Rix Lounge are offering several packages ranging in price from $45 to $90 per couple. For more information, visit the Rix Lounge Web site (link).

…Mark your calendar, the 2011 Expedition Everest Challenge presented by Champion will be held on the night of May 7, 2011.

…The Monorail Society (link) has posted a photo of the 62 foot spur line to the Walt Disney World monorail now under construction. The line will connect to the Epcot line near the Transportation & Ticketing Center and will house a tractor to be used in event of emergency.

…The 27th annual “Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade” hosted by Ryan Seacrest from the Walt Disney World Resort and Nick Cannon from the Disneyland Resort airs Christmas Day on ABC-TV. Check your local listing or go online for details including telecast schedule (link). Here is a preview posted by Disney Parks.

…Registration is now open for the Champion 5K at during ESPN The Weekend (link). Sign up now!

…The 2011 Disney’ Princess Half Marathon is 78 percent full for individual and team registrations. You can register at the official event web site (link).

…The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon is 99 percent full. Completely full are the Half Marathon, Goofy's Race-and-a-Half Challenge, the Buzz & Woody's Best Friends 5K, and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest. If you’re interested in participating in the marathon, you're running out of time! You can register at the official Walt Disney World Marathon Web site (link).

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Coming up

  • January 6–9, 2011: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (link).
  • January 14–17, 2011: UCA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship (link).
  • February 7 to March 31, 2011: Atlanta Braves Spring Training (link).
  • February 11–15, 2011: UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • February 25–27, 2011: Disney’s Princess Half Marathon (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).
  • May 7: Expdition Everest Challenge.
  • September 30, October 1: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
  • September 30 to November 31: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

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.
  • Mickey's Magical Milestones Tour – discontinued, effective November 23.
  • Splash Mountain – closed for refurbishment January 3–31, 2011.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment January 29–February 4, 2011.
  • Mickey's Toontown Fair – closing permanently on February 11, 2011, to make way for Fantasyland expansion.

Epcot

  • No known scheduled closures.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours – closed for refurbishment through May 16, 2011.
  • Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment January 3-29, 2011.
  • Honey I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure – closed for refurbishment January 3-29, 2011.
  • Playhouse Disney-Live on Stage! – closed for refurbishment January 30 - March 5, 2011. A new segment will be added, and the show will be rebranded from Playhouse Disney to Disney Junior.
  • Block Party Bash Parade – final performance January 1; Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! 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

  • Saratoga Springs Resort – Paddock Leisure Pool closed November 29, 2010 to June 29, 2011, for expansion into a new feature pool, wet play area, and quick-service eatery. During the renovations, the Paddock bus stop and laundry facility will also be closed. Guests can use the High Rock Spring pool near the Carriage House or the leisure pools at Congress Park or The Grandstand. Nearby bus stops can be found at The Springs, Congress Park and The Carousel. Alternate laundry facilities are located at The Springs and Congress Park.
  • Coronado Springs Resort – Cabanas Leisure Pool closed for refurbishment January 3–28, 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.
  • Polynesian Resort – Leisure Pool closed for refurbishment January 10–February 18, 2011.
  • 'Ohana – closed from January 17–20, 2011, reopens for dinner on January 20, 2011.
  • 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 annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – closed January 9, 2011 through March 19, 2011 for annual refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
  • Pollo Campero at Downtown Disney – now open on the site of the former McDonald's.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Room-only discounts now available through mid-April

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).

Passholder discounts now available through mid-April

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:

  • Value resorts – 32 percent off
  • Moderate resorts, including Fort Wilderness Cabins – 35 percent off
  • Deluxe Resorts – 32-42 percent off
    (Note: Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian Resort are 32 percent off)
  • Deluxe Villa Resorts – 42 percent off

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).

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).

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 through next September:

2010

  • 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).

Military ticket offer

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.

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 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).


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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.