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Update for January 31 – February 6, 2011

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News and Views

Disney supporting legislation to further regulate handbill distribution | Final countdown for Toontown Fair | DVC reduces benefits for aftermarket purchasers | Flower Power concert series line-up finalized | Chilean miners visiting Walt Disney World | Passholder merchandise discounts extended through 2011 | La Nouba offers discounts to DVC Members, Passholders | Construction update | Quick takes

Disney supporting legislation to further regulate handbill distribution

If a bill currently making its way through Florida's legislature makes its way into law, those seemingly ubiquitous flyers for pizza delivery that seem to magically appear under your door multiple times each week at Disney resorts may disappear, according to an article in the Orlando Sentinel (link). The "Tourist Safety Act of 2011" (HB63, SB366) would permit police to arrest violators even if they do not witness the crime. Initial fines would be increased from $500 to $1,000, and second- and third-time offenders could be fined $2,000 and $3,000, respectively. Police could even seize vehicles driven by third-time offenders to distribute the flyers under provisions of the Florida Contraband Forfeiture Act, a Florida state version of the federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act.


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The Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association and Walt Disney World both sent lobbyists to testify to the Florida legislature in favor of the bill, which was derailed last year by debate over an unrelated measure.

The new legislation would require prospective advertisers to get written authorization from the hotel to distribute handbills (defined as "a flier, leaflet, pamphlet, or other written material that advertises, promotes, or informs persons about a person, business, company, or food service establishment"), instead of the verbal permission currently allowed. This may be a means of both eliminating the unprovable oral agreements and documenting the full names of the distributors in case of adverse actions attributable to them.

This legislation seems a bit harsh for cracking down on the young people generally hired to distributed the flyers for local pizza shops and other businesses, but Central Florida hotel owners allege that some of those distributing these menus are using them to dupe tourists out of their credit card numbers or other information necessary for identity theft, or even to find unlocked hotel rooms and steal guests' belongings. While this is likely not a frequent occurrence, and is even less of a problem at Disney resorts that other resorts in the area, it may be a way for Disney to more successfully limit access to their guest rooms by outside vendors.

In the meantime, your safest best is to check with your hotel's front desk for a list of recommended establishments. Just because the scammers might constitute a small minority doesn't mean you shouldn't be careful. If a pizza flyer doesn't include the shop's address, or uses an unusual phone number, they might be using a throwaway cell phone, waiting to get your credit card number over the phone so they could start racking up the charges while you're on vacation.

Final countdown for Toontown Fair

The countdown continues for Mickey's Toontown Fair. The land is scheduled to close permanently on Friday, February 11 to make way for construction of Dumbo's Storybook Circus land as part of the New Fantasyland expansion. As the circus-themed land is scheduled to be the first section of the expansion to open, work is expected to get underway quickly once the gates are closed. Expect a construction wall to go up past the Mad Tea Party a week from Friday. The Walt Disney World Railroad continues to stop at the station to take on water and to blow off steam, but will not board or discharge passengers at the station. It is likely that another construction wall will be erected at the train station. At this time, it's expected that a wall blocking off traffic from Tomorrowland would go up near the Tomorrowland Power & Light Authority arcade, to prevent guests from taking the long back walkway to Toontown Fair only to find that there was nothing at the end of the path.


The sun sets permanently on Mickey's Toontown Fair next Friday. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Mickey Mouse begins receiving his mail at a meet-and-greet in the Town Square Exhibition Hall starting this spring. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wise Acre Farm is being themed to fly over the circus as The Great Goofini in the new Storybook Circus land. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

DVC reduces benefits for aftermarket purchasers

With the economy rendering finances tight for most guests, many prospective Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members have opted to find a lower-cost alternative by purchasing their ownership interests from those who can no longer afford to maintain their existing interests, or who need the immediate cash provided by selling their DVC ownership points on the aftermarket. Unfortunately for Disney, this means that new DVC members are not buying directly from Disney, cutting DVC revenue. With the number of prospective members shrinking, this is proving problematic for Disney.

In seeking to stem the aftermarket sales of Disney Vacation Club points and increase the incentive to purchase points directly from Disney, DVC has instituted a new policy limited exchanges for DVC points not purchased directly from Disney. Any members who purchase points from anyone other than Disney Vacation Development, Inc., on or after March 21 will only be able to use those points for stays at DVC resorts and for RCI, Club Cordial, and Club Intrawest exchanges. Those points would no longer be able to be used for reservations through the Concierge Collection, the Adventurer Collection, or the Disney Collection (which includes non-DVC Disney resorts and the Disney Cruise Line).

Since those soon-to-be-restricted exchanges are not part of the official ownership interests and are instead benefits provided by DVC, those rights will sunset for new aftermarket purchases. Only those who purchased their points directly from Disney or via the aftermarket on or prior to March 20 will have access to them.

All standard membership activities, such as banking, borrowing and transferring DVC points, will continue to be available to all members. While this will not have much of an effect on prospective members who have no plans to use their points for anything other than staying at DVC resorts or trading out through RCI, Club Cordial or Club Intrawest, anyone who had plans of other uses for their points and were considering an aftermarket purchase may need to adjust their plans.

Flower Power concert series line-up finalized

The 18th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival kicks off just over a month from now, and runs from March 2 through May 15. While it continues its recent 75-day length, though, the audience is still mostly locals (as compared with the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival each fall), and so the Flower Power concert series runs weekends only for the third straight year (versus every night for Food & Wine's Eat to the Beat concert series).

Performances are held three times nightly (at 5:00, 6:45, and 8:15) on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights during the festival at the American Gardens Theatre across from The American Adventure. The concert schedule has now been finalized, with Jose Feliciano once again leading off the series and Davy Jones again taking the Mother's Day Weekend slot. Also returning from last year are Chubby Checker, Starship, The Nelsons, Paul Revere & The Raiders, and Herman's Hermits. Only four acts did not perform at the series last year: The Guess Who, Melissa Manchester, Juice Newton, and Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. Concerts, as with much of the festival, are included in the price of admission to the park. Here's the final lineup (subject, as always, to change):

  • March 4–6: Jose Feliciano
  • March 11–13: The Guess Who
  • March 18–20: Chubby Checker & The Wildcats
  • March 25–27: Melissa Manchester
  • April 1–3: Starship starring Mickey Thomas
  • April 8–10: Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.
  • April 15–17: Juice Newton
  • April 22–24: Ricky Nelson Remembered featuring The Nelsons
  • April 29 to May 1: Paul Revere and the Raiders
  • May 6–8: Davy Jones
  • May 13–15: Herman's Hermits Starring Peter Noone

Chilean miners visiting Walt Disney World

The 33 Chilean miners rescued last fall after 69 days underground, as well as their rescuers and immediate families, are currently at Walt Disney World, enjoying the hospitality of the resort, and will serve as honorary Grand Marshals of a special parade today at 2:15 p.m. at the Magic Kingdom. Disney is providing the miners, their families and rescuers with complimentary family vacations from last Thursday through this Wednesday, January 27-February 2.

The Chileans were treated to a welcome character dinner with Chilean cuisine, and are also being provided with a $500 gift card per family, a group photo in front of Cinderella Castle, and personal photo albums of their vacations.

Passholder merchandise discounts extended through 2011

Walt Disney World Passholder merchandise discounts have been extended through the end of 2011. Epcot After 4pm, Weekday Select, Seasonal and Annual Passholders get 10 percent off purchases at selected locations, while Premium Annual Passholders (including bi-coastal Premier Annual Passholders) get 20 percent off. The discount is available at Walt Disney World-owned and operated shops, but not those stores owned by "operating participants" (third-party stores). The discount is also not valid on a long list of products, and can not be combined with other discounts, offers or promotions. For a full list of what is not included in this discount, check out the Art of Disney Parks website (link).

La Nouba offers discounts to DVC Members, Passholders

Disney Vacation Club members and Passholders can get 30 percent off Category 2 tickets to see La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil when purchased in advance. The discount is good on any performance from February 1 through April 9. You can purchase your advance tickets by calling 407-939-7604. The offer is valid for DVC members and/or Passholders plus up to 5 guests. This offer provides a deeper discount than even the troupe's own Cirque Club, which is offering a 25 percent discount over the same dates.

Tickets will be available for pick up at the La Nouba Box Office's Will Call window. You'll have to present valid DVC Member or Passholder ID to pick up your tickets. Please plan to arrive at least one hour before show time. This offer isn't good for gift certificates or on tickets you've already bought, and you can't combine it with other discounts. The offer is subject to availability.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Pinocchio Village Haus – general construction.
  • Epcot Wonders parking lot – addition of 60-foot concrete pole and camera.
  • Epcot – completion of construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – Star Tours graphics package.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios – Rock 'n' Roller Coaster building – installation of antenna and wiring.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Hollywood Boulevard Left, Center and Right Block – completion of construction.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Pixar Place – completion of construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Dinoland U.S.A – light pole electrical work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris – completion of construction.
  • Blizzard Beach – completion of construction.
  • Palm Golf Course – cart path concrete replacement.
  • Magnolia Golf Course – cart path concrete replacement.
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports – HP Field House rotunda wall graphics package.
  • Downtown Disney AMC Pleasure Island theater – interior illuminated and nonilluminated signage.
  • Grand Floridian Resort main building – addition of water chilled oil cooler at bird cage elevator.
  • Grand Floridian Franck's Studio restrooms – electrical work.
  • Wedding Pavilion chapel restrooms – electrical work.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort DVC Preview Center – general construction of Aulani model rooms.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort Carriage House – painting.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Campfire area – electrical work.
  • Caribbean Beach Resort Aruba building 5100 parking lot – restriping and rejuvenation.
  • Pop Century Resort Hippie Dippy Pool deck – concrete work.

Quick takes …

…Artist SHAG (JoSH AGle) appears at Walt Disney World today from noon to 2 p.m. at Uptown Jewelers on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom (link) after spending the past weekend on the maiden voyage of the Disney Dream cruise ship. SHAG is previewing his collection for the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World and signing his work. Deluxe prints (16"x20") of the 40th anniversary map print will be available for $35. After today's event, the prints will not be available again until the entire collection is released some time this summer.


SHAG's map art celebrating Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary will be available at a preview today in the Magic Kingdom. Image © Disney.

…Walt Disney World has filed construction permits for converting the model DVC rooms at the Preview Center located at the Saratoga Springs Resort to be models for the new Aulani Resort opening in Hawai'i later this year. A minor fire last week caused some damage at the Aulani construction site, but it is not expected to delay the resort's opening.

…D23, the official Disney fan club, has extended its 10 percent discount on new Gold and Silver memberships for DVC members. Originally scheduled to end on December 31, the discount has been extended with no set termination date at this time. Check the D23 Web site for the promotional code needed to get the discount. Please note, this is only for new memberships and not for renewals.

…This year's Disney Vacation Club Condominium Association Meeting has been set for December 8, 2011, somewhere at the Walt Disney World Resort. Details will be announced at a later date.

…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 96 percent full for individual and team registrations. Disney's Royal Family 5K and Kids' Races are each 75 percent full. If you want to run any of these races, time is running out! You can register at the official event web site (link).

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Coming up

  • February 5: Love is Magical pin trading event at Epcot (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).
  • May 8: Danskin Women's Triathlon (link).
  • May 15: Rohto Florida Ironman 70.3 (link).
  • September 30, October 1: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend (link). Registration opens February 14.
  • September 30 to November 13: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (link).
  • November 24–25, 27: Old Spice Classic (link).
  • January 5–8: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (link). Registration opens March 15.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Splash Mountain – closed for refurbishment through January 31, 2011.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment through 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 19, 2011.
  • Playhouse Disney-Live on Stage! – closed for refurbishment through March 5, 2011. A new segment will be added, and the show will be rebranded from Playhouse Disney to Disney Junior.

Animal Kingdom

  • Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment through April 16, 2011.

Resorts

  • Saratoga Springs Resort – Paddock Leisure Pool closed through 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.
  • Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – The main slide and kiddie slide at Stormalong Bay are closed 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 through February 18, 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

  • Blizzard Beach – closed through March 26, 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) and Small World Vacations (link).

Room-only discounts for April-June and August-October

Room-only discounts are being offered for April 28 to June 14 and August 14 to October 1, for which you must make your reservations by March 27. Fall discounts are for five percentage points more than the late spring discounts, and discounts vary by type of resort. Here are the discounts applicable for each resort type:

Resorts April 28 - June 14 August 14 - 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

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 407-939-7722, or your travel agent and using booking code TSU. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).

Kids Stay and Play Free through October

Walt Disney World has released a Kids Stay and Play Free offer that has availability February 17 to April 16 (book by February 13), as well as April 28 to June 14 and August 14 to October 1 (book by March 27). When booking a non-discounted room and ticket package, kids ages 3 to 9 staying in the same room as an adult get a free base Magic Your Way pass. Additional restrictions may apply.

Note: 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 407-939-7684, or your travel agent and using booking code GW8. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (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) and Small World Vacations (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 dependents, additional tickets may be purchased for the dependents, 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.