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Update for January 3 – January 9, 2011

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News and Views

New discounts to be announced today? | Dream arrives this week to replace Wonder, which heads west | Massachusetts man dies after being hit by Disney bus | Disney, union still at odds | Tables in Wonderland to feature organically-grown citrus at this month's Discovery Dinner | First Night of Joy acts announced | Construction update | Quick takes

Happy New Year! It's nice to be back after a couple of weeks off. A big "Thank You" to Julie China for filling in the last couple of weeks to allow me to spend some vacation time with my family. Here's wishing you all a happy, healthy and magical 2011!

New discounts to be announced today?

We are hearing rumors of discounts to be offered for April 28 to June 14 and August 16 to October 1, although this information was not yet published at the Walt Disney World Web site as of Sunday night. In both cases, you must make your reservations by March 27. Fall discounts are for five percentage points more than the late spring discounts. If these discounts do happen, you'll be able to find them on the Walt Disney World Special Offers page (link).


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Here are the discounts that we've heard:

Resorts April 28 - June 14 August 16 - October 1
All-Star Movies 15 percent 20 percent
Remaining Values, Port Orleans French Quarter 20 percent 25 percent
Remaining Moderates, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Polynesian 25 percent 30 percent
Remaining Deluxes 30 percent 35 percent
Deluxe Villas 35 percent 40 percent

We'll confirm these and run them either as blog posts or in next week's Walt Disney World Resort Update.

Dream arrives this week to replace Wonder, which heads west

The Disney Dream arrives at the Disney Cruise Line terminal early tomorrow morning, completing its trans-Atlantic journey from the shipyards of Germany, and prepares for a handful of shakedown cruises before its maiden voyage on January 26. On Thursday, the Disney Wonder makes its final departure from Port Canaveral, making a voyage through the Panama Canal to the West Coast—where it begins regular cruises to Mexico and Alaska from home ports in Los Angeles and Vancouver, Canada. The arrival of the Dream to take over the 3- and 4-day itineraries to the Bahamas has freed up the Wonder to head west.

If you're looking to see the Dream arrive tomorrow morning, you'll be able to see it from Jetty Park at around 6:30 a.m. as it arrives at the channel to Port Canaveral. There are no public viewing areas at the port, where it will dock at around 7 a.m. It then gets ready to head out with its first of a number of "friends and family" shakedown cruises, as the ship's crew works to iron out any rough edges before taking on paying guests.

Speaking of paying guests, if you're one of the lucky ones who will be sailing on the maiden voyage, are you aware that special limited-edition maiden voyage merchandise will be made available only through a random selection process? To find out more about how to get your hands on these collectibles (and only if you're on the maiden voyage), go to the Maiden Voyage RSP Web site (link). Edition sizes of the various items range from 10 (Dave Avanzino shadowboxes) to 1,250 (Mouse Ear hats and pins). Don't forget to also check out the one-of-a-kind items that will be available via live and silent auction.


With the expiration of its contract with Frito-Lay, Disney has begun serving unbranded chips around the parks. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Massachusetts man dies after being hit by Disney bus

A Massachusetts man died last Sunday after walking into the path of a moving Disney bus at the Port Orleans Riverside Resort. In the incident, which occurred around 5:50 p.m. on December 26, the bus hit the man and knocked him down, but did not run over him. A bystander estimated that the bus was traveling at "maybe 10 miles an hour" at the time.

Robert Krueger, 69, of Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts, was walking alone at the time that he walked into the path of a Disney transport bus driven by 57-year-old Rosemary Kincaid. The bus was carrying passengers at the time of the accident, according to reports quoting Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman Sgt. Kim Montes. Since the accident did not take place at a crosswalk and the bus had the right of way, it is unlikely that charges will be filed against Kincaid.

On a recording of a 911 call after the accident, the caller noted that Krueger was breathing but was bleeding "pretty heavily" from the back of his head and was barely conscious after being hit. Krueger was trying to move on his own, but at the direction of the 911 operator, bystanders kept him from moving.

The accident took place near the resort's main bus stop. Krueger was taken to the Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he later died.

"We offer our deepest condolences to the guests' family and loved ones. We are doing all we can for them during this difficult time," said Walt Disney World Resort President Meg Crofton in a prepared statement released to the media.


The magnificent floor-to-ceiling windows at La Hacienda de San Angel provide wonderful views of World Showcase Lagoon. Photo by Tina Delaney.

Disney, union still at odds

Walt Disney World and the Service Trades Council Union (STCU) continue to have difficulty coming to agreement on a new contract and, as we noted in mid-December, the sides have pushed back the current contract's expiration to January 20. The Orlando Sentinel now reports (link) that the situation is coming to a head and that employees may be facing a choice of accepting the resort's final contract proposal or going on strike.

According to the article, Disney continues to state that it will not add any more money to the contract, while the union refuses to accept what they say is a contract that loses ground against the rising cost of healthcare premiums. With the STCU's six member unions split on accepting the contract, it raises the issue of the continuing viability of the bargaining unit. If the three unions supporting the agreement split from the three unions against it, it will lessen the bargaining power of both subgroups at the renewal of the new contract.

While an actual strike is not likely, it is possible that there may be some job actions to test the resolve of both sides. It remains to be seen if anything will occur that will visibly affect the guest experience. We'll have to wait and see what happens as the deadline approaches.

Tables in Wonderland to feature organically-grown citrus at this month's Discovery Dinner

Tables in Wonderland, the discount dining program available to Annual Passholders and Florida residents, is hosting a special event at The Wave … of American Flavors in January.

January's Discovery Dinner at The Wave at the Contemporary Resort takes place on January 20, with a 6:30 reception and 7:00 dinner. The $92 price includes tax and gratuity. Appetizers will be paired with wine during the reception, and dinner will feature an appetizer, salad, entree and dessert, and each course will be paired with wine. This month's dinner showcases the organically-grown Florida citrus of Matt McLean. The event is limited to 50 attendees.

Dishes during the reception include Petite Lobster “BLT” with Saffron-Citrus Aïoli, Anthony’s Beef Empanadas with spicy Citrus Compote, and Roasted Vegetable Cigars with a Citrus-Yogurt Cream, paired with Terrunya Sauvignon Blanc and Natura Sauvignon Blanc. Dinner appetizers include Florida Stone Crab with Uncle Matt’s Citrus-Mustard Sauce, Laughing Bird Shrimp Cocktail, and “Fire Cracker Rock Shrimp” with Thai Chili Sauce, paired with Trivento Torrontes and Chateau Tanunda Riesling.

Cassillero Pinot Grigio is the pairing for Uncle Matt’s Citrus-brined Jicama Salad, while the Lamb Chops with Pearl Barley Risotto with Wild Mushroom Sauce – Uncle Matt’s Gremolata entree will feature Xplorador Chardonnay and Nero D' Avola. The dessert will be Sunburst Tangerine Crepe Cake Tower served with White Chocolate Cream and Fresh Citrus Sorbet.

Dress is casual evening attire.

To request a reservation, send an e-mail to Tables in Wonderland (link) with your interest in booking, your name, daytime phone number, home address, and the number of people in your party. Reservations will be given on a first-come, first-served basis. You will need to provide your credit card number over the phone at the time of confirmation.


With the holiday season coming to a close, here is a last look at some of the nighttime decor in the parks, starting with the wreaths above Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Hidden Mickeys are everywhere at this year's Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The canopy of lights above San Francisco Street at Disney's Hollywood Studios is always impressive. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Reindeer pull Santa's sleigh above New York Street at the Osborne Lights. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

First Night of Joy acts announced

Walt Disney World has released the first round of talent signed up for next year's Night of Joy, the resort's annual Christian music festival. The hard-ticketed after-hours event continues back at the Magic Kingdom again in 2011 on September 9 and 10. Here's the lineup so far:

  • Friday, September 9, 2011 – Skillet, newsboys, Jeremy Camp, Matthew West, Francesca Battestelli, Group 1 Crew, Sidewalk Prophets, and Disciple.
  • Saturday, September 10, 2011 – mercyme, Tobymac, Jars of Clay, Sanctus Real, Kutless, and Chris August.

There are more acts still to be announced, and—as always with Disney events—entertainment schedules are subject to change. For more information on the event, check out the Night of Joy website (link).

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Railroad Station – unspecified work.

Quick takes …

…Block Party Bash danced down the parade route at Disney's Hollywood Studios for the last time on Saturday afternoon. The Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun will begin running in its place on January 16; there will be no parade at the studios park for the intervening two weeks. The new parade will feature characters from The Incredibles, A Bug's Life, Ratatouille, Monsters, Inc., Up, and Toy Story. Newly appearing in the parade are Remy and Emile from Ratatouille and Carl and Russell from Up.

…Adriano Bastos will try to make it seven wins in a row at the Walt Disney World Marathon this coming weekend. Bastos won his sixth consecutive (and seventh overall) Disney event last year. Two-time defending women's champ Lisa Mizutani looks to make it three straight this year. The weekend will also feature the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge (for those racing both the Marathon and the Half Marathon), a Family Fun Run 5K, kids' races and a Health & Fitness Expo. Those completing the Marathon will receive complimentary admission to a theme park the Monday after the race. Registration for all 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon events is completely full. Registration for the 2012 events is expected to open next Monday, the day after the 2011 events conclude.

…The first running of the Wild Africa Trek tour at Disney's Animal Kingdom will be January 16, or two weeks from yesterday. The tour can accommodate up to 12 guests ages 9 and up. Call 407-WDW-TOUR (407-939-8687) to reserve your spot. The tour costs $129 per person for tours between January 16 and February 26. The tour, discussed in this space previously, will provide the closest look yet at the animals on the park's African game areas.

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

…The 2011 Disney’ Princess Half Marathon is 85 percent full for individual and team registrations. Disney's Royal Family 5K and Kids' Races are still open. You can register at the official event web site (link).

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Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.

Coming up

  • January 6–9: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (link).
  • January 14–17: UCA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship (link).
  • February 7 to March 31: Atlanta Braves Spring Training (link).
  • February 11–15: UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • February 25–27: Disney’s Princess Half Marathon (link).
  • March 2 to May 15: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (link).
  • March 3–6: ESPN The Weekend (link).
  • March 12–13: UCA National All-Star Cheerleading Championship (link).
  • April 28 to May 2: USASF Cheerleading and Dance Worlds (link).
  • April 29, 30, May 6, 7: Grad Nites (link).
  • May 7: Expedition Everest Challenge (link).
  • September 30, October 1: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend (link).
  • September 30 to November 13: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (link).
  • November 24–25, 27: Old Spice Classic (link).

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • 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 15-30 percent are available for room-only reservations for stays at Walt Disney World for most nights February 17 – April 16, 2011.

  • Value resorts – 15 percent off
  • Moderate resorts, including Fort Wilderness Cabins – 20 percent off
  • Deluxe Resorts – 15-25 percent off
    (Note: Animal Kingdom Lodge is 15 percent off. Polynesian Resort is 20 percent off.)
  • Deluxe Villa Resorts – 30 percent off

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. 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.

  • 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.


Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.


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(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.