A family from Chula Vista, California (near San Diego) is suing Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, alleging that 4-year-old Isaiah Harris was severely burned by nacho cheese sauce at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe last March at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. Isaiah's parents, Maria and Michael Harris, allege that on March 17, 2010, Disney "negligently and carelessly" served "scalding hot" cheese to the family, and that Disney made no effort to regulate its temperature. According to the family, Isaiah was sitting in an unstable chair, grabbed at the table to keep from falling. His hand caught the food tray, spilling the cup of nacho cheese sauce onto his face. "The cheese was scalding hot and resulted in severe burns," says the lawsuit.
The suit, which was filed in California District Court in San Diego last Wednesday, alleges that Isaiah suffered "permanent scarring, pain and suffering," while the parents experienced "suffering, anguish, fright, horror, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry and shock" from watching the incident. The Harris family is asking for Disney to cover their medical and legal costs, as well as punitive damages and further relief to be determined by the court.
While the boy received treatment at an Orlando-area hospital for second- and third-degree burns immediately following the incident, he is reportedly still undergoing treatment for the burns at this time. In an interview with WKMG (link), the Harris' attorney, Sean Cahill, stated, "I think the parents, like the child, like any reasonable person, would have an expectation of food being served to children would be served at a reasonable temperature," and that the cheese did not come with any warning of its temperature. Perhaps more to the point, the Harrises complain that Disney never took their son's injuries seriously.
It is possible that the perceived lack of attention played a part in the decision to file the suit.
While it might seem that it would be common sense that cheese sauce served with nachos would be hot (sales would surely suffer it if were not), the decision in the famous "McDonald's coffee lawsuit," in which an elderly New Mexico woman was awarded $3 million because McDonald's didn't warn her that the coffee that they were serving was hot and could cause severe burns would seem to give caution to those thinking that this would be an easy win for Disney.
Disney released a statement stating that "It's unfortunate when any child gets injured. We just received notice of the lawsuit and we are currently reviewing it."
Following a third round of negotiations involving a federal mediator, Walt Disney World and the umbrella union representing almost half of its work force came to a tentative agreement on Friday afternoon. The two sides agreed to extend the current contract another month to March 17 to allow union members to vote on the proposed new deal, which again involved both parties meeting in separate hotel rooms with mediator Hank Groton performing "shuttle diplomacy," bringing offers back and forth between the parties. Noting on its Web site that "[w]e were able to resolve some specific job classification issues as well as bonus adjustments," the Service Trades Council Union (STCU) announced the voting locations for its six member unions, which will take place on February 25.
The heads of the six units were still split on the agreement, but union leaders voted 4 to 2 to sent the contract to the members. The vote shows the continuing split between the unions that has caused a great deal of friction recently. The previous contract offer received a 3-3 split from the unions. It appears that an offer of an extra $100 bonus to employees making less than $8.50 per hour and an agreement that Disney would continue to pay more than 70 percent of the cost of comprehensive health care coverage swung the fourth union to vote for the deal.
Under the deal, employees will get 3 percent raises in each of the next three years, plus a one-time $650 bonus ($750 for those making less than $8.50 per hour). They will also have to pay between $12 and $38 per week for health insurance. However, Disney spokesperson Andrea Finger told WKMG (link) that "the fact is that the overwhelming majority of cast members will end up with more money at the end of the contract," perhaps acknowledging that some would not come out ahead after the deal.
The STCU represents the approximately 21,000 full-time workers covered by this contract, as well as about 8,000 part-time workers covered under a separate contract. The workers are represented by Workers United Local 737, Unite Here Local 362, United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1625, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 385, Transportation & Communications International Union (TCIU) Local 1908, and the International Alliance of Theater & Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 631.
Members of UFCW 1625 and UNITE HERE 362, the two member unions against the deal, had protested the state of contract negotiations Wednesday evening in front of the Crossroads shopping center across from the Hotel Plaza Boulevard entranced to Walt Disney World.
It is expected that the STCU as a whole will ratify the contract. It will remain to be seen how the relationship between the six member unions will proceed.
With the Disney Dream now plying its route between Port Canaveral, Castaway Cay, and Nassau, Bahamas, it's time for work to get underway on the Disney Fantasy at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. At a ceremony last Friday, Minnie Mouse assisted Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz in placing a coin under the keel of the new ship. The ceremony celebrated the placing of the first section of the ship onto the building dock. The placement of the coin is for good fortune.
The Fantasy, sister ship to the Dream, and will be very similar in appearance; however, there will be some differences. Interior spaces will have some design differences, including some changes to the restaurants. Of course, there will also be a different statue in the ship's atrium lobby to go with the Disney Magic's Mickey Mouse, the Disney Wonder's Ariel, and the Dream's Donald Duck. Perhaps the presence of Minnie Mouse at the keel laying is a bit of foreshadowing?
While the decor will be different, the structure of the Fantasy should be pretty much the same as the Dream, including the presence of an AquaDuck water coaster. When the Fantasy is delivered, it will take the place of the Magic, sailing seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral. The future itineraries for the Magic have not been revealed yet, but from what we've heard it will provide quite a variety of choices for those sailing with the Disney Cruise Line. The Fantasy's maiden voyage is scheduled for March 31, 2012.
In the meantime, keep reading "Cruise Tuesdays" here at MousePlanet.com for continuing coverage of the Disney Dream.
Last week on the Disney Parks Blog, Imagineering Executive Vice President Tom Fitzgerald revealed some more details (link) about Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, which reopens on May 20 at Disney's Hollywood Studios (and in June at Disneyland Park). The new version of the attraction (in 3D), which takes place between Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith and Episode 4: A New Hope, was already known to feature R2-D2 and C-3PO, as well as Star Tours Pilot "Ace" (AC-38) and spokesbot Aly San San.
Newly announced characters include Darth Vader, Boba Fett, legions of stormtroopers and "skytroopers" (created just for this attraction), and other evil droids and creatures. On the good side of The Force will be Master Yoda, Princess Leia, Admiral Ackbar, and possibly Chewbacca.
Images released over the weekend from the New York Toy Fair and posted at StarWars.com show Star Tours action figures manufactured by Hasbro that give a look at more characters and perhaps a bit of the plot. The Star Tours Travel Agency Pack shows two pieces of luggage, a yet-unknown droid with directional flashlights (possibly to guide the new/old Starspeeder 1000 to takeoff or landing), Aly San San, C-3PO, Ace, and a yet-unidentified alien. The Star Tours Ambush Pack (hint) features two skytroopers, Darth Vader on some sort of hovering platform, and Boba Fett. If you will be ambushed by Darth Vader and the others, perhaps Admiral Ackbar will be there to inform you that "It's a trap!" (link)?
C-3PO becomes an unexpected pilot, taking you to either Coruscant or Tatooine, an arid planet on the Outer Rim, or potentially to some other planet within the Star Wars universe. Reportedly, the outcome of the adventure may change from one trip to the next, increasing re-rideability.
The schedule has been announced for the D23: Destination D event celebrating Walt Disney World's 40th aniversary on May 14 and 15. Tickets will be available starting at 1 p.m. EST next Thursday, February 24 on the D23 Web site (link). Tickets cost $175 per person, or $215 for a ticket plus registration of a Great Disney Scavenger Hunt team of two to four people. Only the team leader needs to pay for the $215 ticket.
On-site registration takes place on Friday, May 13, from noon to 9 p.m., and Saturday, May 14, starting at 8 a.m. The program starts at 9:30 a.m. on May 14. All attendees receive a complimentary, limited-edition reproduction of the 1970 "Preview Edition" of the Walt Disney World souvenir guidebook.
Events in the Fantasia Ballroom at the Contemporary Resort include:
There's much more in store, as well. Tickets may only be purchased by D23 members in good standing, who may reserve one ticket for themselves and one for a guest. For more information and to get tickets on February 24, go to the D23 Web site (link).
D23's Great Disney Scavenger Hunt: Walt Disney World Resort takes place on May 12 and 13 in all four theme parks. Tickets can be purchased with admission tickets for D23's Destination D event as a $40 add-on per team, or can be purchased separately for $60 per team for D23 members and $85 per team for non-members (as with last year's Disneyland D23 scavenger hunt, only the team leader needs to be a D23 member). Check-in will take place at 10 a.m. at each team's assigned park, which will appear in the ticket confirmation email. The event will have different rules than the scavenger hunt that took place at Disneyland last year. For more information, check out the D23 Web site (link).
If you like the D23 Great Scavenger Hunt, then you may be ready to take on MousePlanet's MouseAdventure, which returns to Walt Disney World for the third year this November. For more information on MouseAdventure, check out the MouseAdventure page, subscribe to the MouseAdventure newsletter, and check out the MouseAdventure discussion forum.
The Main Street bakery offers a selection of Divvies-brand packaged baked treats. These are all peanut-, tree nut-, egg- and dairy-free foods, and the sign says "dietary snacks." They also have some of Divvies gluten-free candy. The cookie and brownie are eligible as a snack credit on the dining plan. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.
Last Wednesday, Disney Sports Enterprises Senior Vice President Ken Potrock posted a letter to Disney running fans on the Run Disney Facebook page (link). Potrock noted that "the Disney team has been working on changes to improve your experience at the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon."
The Run Disney team has made a number of changes to the event to address many of the issues that had participants complaining complaining last fall (link) after several major issues made the finish line and post-race festivities a serious hazard. For starters, since the event finishes well after Epcot closes for the evening, the finish line will be moved just outside the park's main entrance. This will provide a much larger finishing area, making it easier to handle the crowds crossing the finish line and to get them through medal distribution, first aid, and baggage claim. It will also somewhat alleviate the cheering sections outside the Epcot Resorts late at night.
The post-race party also includes a number of Epcot attractions, and many more food and beverage stations will be available, which will make it easier for those finishing the race to get themselves some nourishment after completing their 13.1-mile run. Since the finish line will be just outside the park entrance, instead of further out as is done with the Walt Disney World Marathon and other half marathon events, it will make access to the post-race party back inside the park much easier. They're also going to enhance the entertainment, both along the race course and at the post-race party.
If you're running in the Wine & Dine Half Marathon, let us know how this year's event compares to last year's, and whether or not it looks like they've fixed all of the major issues from last time.
This year's 18th Annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is being sponsored by cable TV network HGTV, with a different one of the network's designers and landscaping experts appearing during the festival's weekends. Celebrities will appear each Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the event on the HGTV Stage at the Festival Center presented by HGTV. HGTV will also present a new Bambi's Butterfly House twice the size of last year along the Imagination Walkway (sometimes referred to as the "rose walk." Looks like they're certainly getting their branding money out of the sponsorship.
HGTV celebrities appearing and the topics of their talks are:
HGTV will also present the twice-daily Disney Gardening at Home series, and the Festival Center's HGTV Theater (there's that branding again) will present a special-engagement film featuring tips and hints from HGTV shows.
New topiaries this year include Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Lotso from Toy Story 3 and Lightning McQueen and Mater from Cars 2.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…Following its final day last Friday, Mickey's Toontown Fair has been walled off and removed from the park map. Character meet-and-greets have been moved to other locations throughout the park. For the moment, the princesses can be found at the Adventureland Verandah. Not a very princess-y place, but it's a place to meet them in air-conditioned comfort. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse are appearing in multiple places in the park, showing up near the exit of Splash Mountain, at the Tomorrowland Patio near the Carousel of Progress, and inside the lobby area of the Hall of Presidents. Later this spring, Mickey and Minnie will move to the Town Square Exhibition Hall, which has been renamed to the Town Square Theater (the new name now appears on the guide maps).
…At the cast farewell party for Mickey's Toontown Fair, several posters were on display for Storybook Circus Land, which will be built on the site of Toontown Fair. Images on the posters included the previously-announced The Great Goofini retheming of Goofy's Barnstormer, as well as the not-previously-mentioned Pete's Silly Sideshow and Big Top Souvenirs Featuring The Flying Piggolinis (Three Little Pigs).
…Disney Channel and Disney XD favorites Phineas & Ferb will finally come to Walt Disney World in May with a "meet-and-play" experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The popular inventive step-brothers, who previously only been seen in the parks for the last two Disney Parks Christmas Parade telecasts, will be making a movie about their adventures with the help of guests and movie director Cletus Filmore. The boys will be recreating some of their favorite moments and taking breaks to meet fans, sign autographs and take pictures. As far as we know, the experience will be free of the boys' sister Candace trying to "bust" them. The new experience will take place near the exit to MuppetVision 3-D.
…The ticker-tape parade featuring Aaron Rodgers of the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers was delayed from 2 p.m. to around 3:30 p.m. due to travel delays for Rodgers, and the parade was able to finish before a rainstorm followed. The Super Bowl MVP was the 44th celebrity to appear in the iconic "I'm going to Disney World!" commercial.
…Bill Justice, who worked as an animator on many Disney classics before becoming an Imagineer and helped to program Audio-Animatronics figures for such attractions as the Carousel of Progress, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Country Bear Jamboree and many more, died last Thursday at age 97, the day after his birthday. Justice also worked on stop-motion animation for films such as Mary Poppins and Babes in Toyland. He is survived by his wife, Kim; his daughter, Melissa Justice; and a granddaughter. Services are pending.
…Nearly 25,000 warm clothing items discarded by runners at the Walt Disney World Marathon and Half Marathon were collected, cleaned by Disney Textile Services, and will be distributed to those in need through various Central Florida non-profit organizations and schools. The approximately 14,696 pounds of clothing include coats, sweaters, long sleeved T-shirts and gloves.
…The 2011 Disney’ Princess Half Marathon is sold out for individual and team registrations. Disney's Royal Family 5K and Kids' Races are each 87 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).
The Enchanted Tiki Room - Under New Management return to operation from repair has been moved to June 1 from March 16. It has been closed since a fire damaged much of the building's second floor in January. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.
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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).
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.
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.
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 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).
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 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 407-939-7684, or your travel agent and using booking code GW8. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link) and Small World Vacations (link).
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.
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).
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.
(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.