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Update for December 27 – January 2, 2010

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News and Views

Chilean miners to visit Walt Disney World Resort | New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World Resort | Disney Dream onboard credit for limited dates | Adventures by Disney teams up with Disney Cruise Line | Construction update | Quick takes

Chilean miners to visit Walt Disney World Resort

The 33 Chilean miners who were rescued 69 days after they were trapped underground in a collapsed mine, will now be traveling to Florida for a six-night trip to Walt Disney World.


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Disney is treating the miners, their immediate families, and rescuers to a six-night trip to the Walt Disney World Resort fom January 27 to February 2, 2011. The miners will serve as honorary Grand Marshals of the Main Street, U.S.A. parade, as wewelcome Chilean dinner with Disney characters, time to visit the four theme parks, a group photo in front of Cinderella Castle, and a $500 gift card per family.

New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World Resort

There's no question that New Year’s Eve is one of the busiest days of the year at the Walt Disney World Resort, but for those who weather the crowds, there will be perks. The resort look its best decked out in holiday decorations, and the four theme parks offer extended operating hours with tons of extra special entertainment and dining options:

Park hours – Epcot will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. (with World Showcase opening at 9:30 a.m.), Magic Kingdom will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. (opening at 7 a.m. for on-site Extra Magic Hours guests), Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open from 8 a.m. to midnight (staying open until 3 a.m. for Extra Magic Hours), and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (opening at 7 a.m. for Extra Magic Hours).

Entertainment – There will be lots of entertainment during those extra hours:

  • Epcot – two showings of a special Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, at 7:30 p.m. and 11:40 p.m.
  • Magic Kingdom – the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party, at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5:15 p.m.; Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at noon and 3:30 p.m.; the Main Street Electrical Parade at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.; Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks at 8:30 p.m.; and Fantasy in the Sky fireworks at 11:50 p.m.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – the Block Party Bash parade at 3 p.m.; three showings of Fantasmic! at 6:30 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.; the band Mulch, Sweat and Shears performs at Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat at 8 p.m., 9 p.m., 10 p.m., and 11 p.m.; and Lights, Camera, Happy New Year fireworks starring Mulch, Sweat and Shears starts at 11:55 p.m.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Mickey’s Jingle Jungle Parade at 3:45 p.m.


Fireworks burst over Cinderella Castle. © Disney.

Park dining – There will be several special dining opportunities in the parks (requires theme park admission):

  • Special New Year’s Eve menu at Bistro de Paris at the France Pavilion in Epcot, priced at $150 per person or $225 per person with wine pairings. Call 407-617-2788 for reservations.
  • La Hacienda de San Angel at the Mexico pavilion in Mexico offeris a six-course prix-fixe menu with live music starting at 9 p.m. The price is $199 per person or $225 per person with wine and spirits (plus tax and gratuity). The children’s price (ages 3-9) is $49.95 (plus tax and gratuity). Call 407-842-1107 or e-mail lahaciendadesanangel@me.com for reservations.
  • Epcot World ShowPlace hosts “Fantasia 2011,” a buffet dinner themed after the Disney animated feature films Fantasia and Fantasia 2000. The buffet hours are 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., $68.67 per adult and $44.37 per child (tax and gratuity included). Alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase.
  • The Magic Kingdom celebrates with a special Fireworks Dessert Party at the Tomorrowland Terrace, and includes a dessert buffet, beverages, and a non-alcoholic sparkling beverage. Starts at 10:30 p.m. and concludes with the Fantasy in the Sky Fireworks at 11:50 p.m. $39.99 for adults and children 10 and up, and $21.99 for younger children (ages 3-9) (tax not included).
  • Also at the Magic Kingdom,a Dinner and Dessert party from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. of a buffet, desserts and a non-alcoholic sparkling beverage. The party concludes with a viewing of Holiday Wishes: Celebrate the Spirit of the Season fireworks. The price is $155.99 for adults and children 10 and up, and $76.99 for younger children (ages 3-9) (tax not included).

Celebrating outside the parks – Outside the theme parks, there will be many ways to celebrate:

  • The Electrical Water Pageant cruises on by Bay Lake and the Seven Seas Lagoon at 10:25 p.m., and best of all, it’s free.
  • Cirque du Soleil at Downtown Disney offers two performances of La Nouba at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. that will include a New Year’s Eve champagne toast and a limited-edition La Nouba pin. Tickets are $67 to $133 for adults and $54 to $109 for children (ages 3-9). Call 407-939-7328 or visit (link) for more information.
  • DisneyQuest at Downtown Disney has a DJ Dance Party from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. The price is $39 (tax included) per person advance purchase or $45 (tax included) per person on New Year’s Eve. Guests will receive admission to DisneyQuest and the DJ Dance Party, party favors, and a coupon for a personal pizza and soda at FoodQuest. For tickets, call 407-934-7639 or visit (link).
  • The Atlantic Dance Hall at Disney’s Boardwalk will host an adult’s only event (ages 21 and over) from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. For $42.60 (tax included) guests will receive admission to the main floor, party favors and a champagne toast at midnight. For $75 (tax included), guests will receive VIP admission to the main floor plus access to the VIP area on the second floor, access to the balcony area for limited Epcot viewing of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth with guaranteed seating and coffee, tea or hot chocolate with a dessert bar and a premium bar. Call 407/939-3463 for information.

Resort dining – ring in the New Year at:

  • The California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, which  hosts a semi-formal event that  includes food, beverages, live entertainment, casino-style games, a DJ, dancing, and Disney characters. Guests will also enjoy a special location for viewing the Magic Kingdom fireworks. This party costs $525 per person (tax and gratuity included). Call 407-939-3463 for reservations.
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort offers several options for ringing in the New Year. The Maya Grill and Rix Lounge are offering several packages ranging from $45 to $90 per couple. For more information visit the Rix Lounge Web site (link).
  • Shula’s Steak House at Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort has two seatings. The second seating, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., will have a four course prix fixe menu for $125 per person.

Other Disney resorts may also have special New Year’s Eve dining options as well, so be sure to check with your resort.

Reservations are filling up fast and your first choice may already be fully booked. So if you really have your heart set on a particular party or dinner, make your reservation now.

Disney Dream onboard credit for limited dates

If you want to be one of the first to sail aboard Disney’s brand new cruise ship, the Disney Dream, but have not yet made a reservation, Disney is now offering a $200 onboard credit for new bookings on certain cruises to the Bahamas:

  • Dates for 3 night cruise: February 3 and 10, 2011
  • Dates for 4 night cruise: January 30 and February 6, 2011

You must book from now until February 9, 2011. This offer is only available for new bookings and must be booked through a travel agent and using booking code DTY. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEar Vacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link), and Get Away Today (link).

Disney Parks has released a video updating the construction status of the Disney Dream:

Adventures by Disney teams up with Disney Cruise Line

Adventures by Disney has joined with Disney Cruise Line to offer cruise passengers an upgraded shore experience. Guests aboard Disney’s Mediterranean and Alaska cruises can add tour packages that include shore excursions led by Disney Adventure Guides. In Florence, Italy, this includes a privately guided tour to see Michaelangelo’s David. In Alaska, this includes a helicopter ride to a glacier.

Guests can also add a 4-day/3-night pre-cruise Escape package for Barcelona or Vancouver, the ports of embarkation. The Vancouver Escape begins with breakfast at the Vancouver Aquarium, and includes a tour of the Marine Science Center, a tour of Stanley Park, a gondola ride up Grouse Mountain, and a visit to the Refuge for Endangered. The 4-day/3-night Barcelona Escape includes a visit to Gaudi’s beautiful gothic Sagrada Familia Cathedral, and more.

These upgrades are available for booking prior to select departure dates. For more information, call the Disney Cruise Line at 888/272-0571.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom – Pirate’s of the Caribbean construction work.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Kali River Rapids construction work, gutter repair and coating.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Uzima Springs pool and spas sign refurbishment.
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort – door modification work and painting.
  • Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resorts – Stormalong Bay pool sign refurbishment.
  • Disney’s Boardwalk Inn – Luna Park pool sign refurbishment.
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – Cayman Way road repaving.
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort – east entry road repaving.
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort – pool sign refurbishment.
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – perimeter road repaving.
  • Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort – Cabanas pool and pool deck, Dig Site pool and slide, Ranchos pool and deck area, and Casitas quiet pool sign refurbishment.
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort – Peacock Pass road repaving.
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Conch Key electrical work.
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Beach pool, quiet pool sign refurbishment.
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort – Volcano pool, and quiet pool and pool deck sign refurbishment.
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort – Hippy Dippy pool deck, Bowling Pin pool, and Computer pool sign refurbishment.
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside – Main Bus Stop and road repaving.
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort Riverside – Ol’ Man Island pool spa and pool building, pool between Acadian House and Magnolia Terrace, Alligator Bayou A and pool building, West B quiet pool, and Alligator Bayou South C quiet pool and building sign refurbishment.
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter – Buildings 5 and 6 drive lanes repaving.
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort French Quarter – Doubloon Lagoon pool sign refurbishment.
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – Main pool and deck area sign refurbishment.

Quick takes …

…Now through early January, you can have your pet’s portrait taken by a Disney PhotoPass photographer at the Walt Disney World Resort. Call (407) 934-4004 to make a 10 or 20 minute appointment.

…Several hotels on Hotel Plaza Boulevard lost electricity for about 30 minutes on Christmas Eve when a squirrel made contract with electrical equipment.

…Disney is currently holding character look-alike auditions for many characters including Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, the Disney Princes and Princesses, and the Disney Fairies. For more information, go to Disney Auditions (link).

…A U.S. District Court judge denied Disney’s request for a new trial in the case of Celador International Ltd. versus the Walt Disney Company. Celador, the creators of Who Wants to be a Millionaire, sued Disney over network fees and merchandise profits and was awarded $269.2 million in damages plus $50 million in interest. It is anticipated that Disney will appeal. Who Wants to be a Millionaire – Play It! was an attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios from 2001 to 2006, before being replaced by the hugely popular Toy Story Mania!

…Disney is eliminating 14 jobs, 11 of them at Walt Disney World. According to the Orlando Sentinel (link), the jobs are with the global-business development group of the Walt Disney Co.'s theme-park division. The unit is tasked with evaluating future capital projects for Disney's 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 82 percent full for individual and team registrations. You can register at the official event web site (link).

…Registration for all 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon events, including the Full and Half Marathon, Goofy’s Race-and-a-Half Challenge, the Buzz & Woody’s Best Friends 5K, and Mickey’s Marathon Kids’ Fest is completely full.

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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).

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.


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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.