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Update for March 28 – April 3, 2011

Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions

News and Views

Disney Wonder crew member missing | Enchanted artwork coming to Mickey's meet-and-greet queue? | Tower of Terror gets "green" makeover | Disney Animal Programs releases one manatee, takes in another | Former Disney Parks chair needs bone marrow transplant | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Disney Wonder crew member missing

A member of the Disney Wonder's crew was reported missing last Tuesday when she failed to report for her scheduled shift in the Youth Activities department. Rebecca Coriam, 24, of Chester, England, was last seen early that morning making a phone call to friend, according to a KABC report, but details of that phone call have not been made public. The ship left the Port of Los Angeles last Sunday, March 20, for a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise, and made its first port of call in Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday after two days at sea.


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The Bahamas Maritime Authority is leading in the investigation on the Bahamanian-registered ship, with the Mexican navy and the U.S. Coast Guard assisting. U.S. law enforcement authorities have no jurisdiction because the ship has a foreign registry and was not in U.S. waters at the time. Bahamian authorities met the ship in Cabo San Lucas on Friday, and the ship returned to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro yesterday morning, and left again for another round-trip yesterday evening.

According to reports posted on the Internet from passengers aboard the ship, there were two calls for Coriam to contact the captain, followed by a ship-wide search that included searches of all cabins. The woman's parents, Michael and Ann Coriam, have flown from England to Los Angeles to await news of their daughter.

As the news broke on Friday, Disney Cruise Lines issued this statement:

“Given the circumstances we are very concerned about this situation and are doing everything possible to assist with the search effort and investigation. The Mexican Navy has been conducting searches since Tuesday, and we immediately contacted the FBI and the Bahamian Maritime Authority, which is leading the investigation on this matter. We have also conducted a thorough and comprehensive inspection of the ship and spoken with the crew member’s colleagues to gather as much information as possible.”

On Sunday morning, another statement from DCL added:

"We have been doing everything possible to find Rebecca Coriam including conducting multiple shipboard searches, the latest one as recently as Saturday. In addition, we have been working with all of the appropriate authorities. Rebecca's disappearance has been difficult for everyone at Disney Cruise Line. We've been in close contact with the Coriam family, and we're assisting them in any way we can."

The Wonder relocated from Port Canaveral, Florida to the Port of Los Angeles this past January in preparation for the arrival of the Disney Dream in Florida. In April, the Wonder will relocate to Vancouver for a series of Alaska cruises, and will return to Los Angeles in September to resume Mexican Riviera sailings.

Enchanted artwork coming to Mickey's meet-and-greet queue?

The queue for the new meet-and-greet experience with Magician Mickey Mouse at the newly renamed Town Square Theater may showcase some "Enchanted Art" first pioneered on board the Disney Dream cruise ship. In a post on the Disney Parks Blog, Jennifer Fickley-Baker quotes Walt Disney Imagineering director/senior show producer Jon Georges as saying that "these posters carry Mickey’s magical touch that can bring them to life and interact with you as you wait.”


FastPass signage is getting finishing touches in preparation for Friday's grand opening of the meet-and-greet locations inside the Town Square Theater. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


A beautiful Italian style floor mosaic reveals the initials "TS" for "Town Square." The "1901" at the top of the design recalls Walt Disney's birth year. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

This sounds a great deal like the Enchanted Art aboard the Dream, which "come to life" and display moving images when a proximity sensor in the image's frame is tripped. The Enchanted Art is also connected to a central computer that allows for an interactive detective game to be played with special cards displaying two-dimensional bar codes. It is possible that the art in the queue will have some sort of programmed interactivity, or it may just be set to interact with certain motions or at given intervals. In either case, it definitely sounds like there's more "Next Generation" technology coming to the Magic Kingdom starting this Friday.


A new chandelier lights the entry lobby of the Town Square Theater. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The entry to Tony's Town Square Restaurant is now wide open, rather than having the desk function as a barrier to the walkway. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The Town Square Theater lobby is now open, with the construction walls moved back to the entrance to the meet-and-greet queue. Guests can now see the improved entrance to Tony's Town Square Restaurant, the renamed Box Office Gifts, and the Theater Entrance, that will lead to the queues for Magician Mickey Mouse and the Disney princesses. The interactive posters will appear on the walls of the queue area to the "backstage corridors" of the theater. Magician Mickey will meet and greet guests in his "rehearsal room."


Guests will pass through the theater entrance on their way to meet Mickey Mouse and the Disney princesses. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The old Exposition Hall gift shop has been condensed into the south side of the building and renamed Box Office Gifts. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Colonial Mickey Mouse gets in his final meet-and-greets in the Hall of Presidents lobby while awaiting the opening of the new Main Street location. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Tower of Terror gets "green" makeover

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios is getting a fresh coat of "green" paint during its refurbishment, but don't expect it to look any different. The "Hollywood Tower Hotel" structure is being repainted with special low volatile organic compound (low VOC) paint, which cuts down on environmental emissions. Standard paint contains volatile organic compounds, which create environmental emissions that can react with other elements to product ozone and cause air pollution. The environmentally friendly paint was also used during the just-finished refurbishment of Blizzard Beach.

Walt Disney World has been using low VOC paints for the last two years, and has reduced the amount of VOC emissions from the resort by more than two-thirds. Last year, more than 110,000 gallons of paint was used to paint the resort.


The Main Street projectors for "The Magic, The Memories, and You" castle show have been hidden behind a facade. Unfortunately, the scale and style really does not fit with the rest of Main Street, U.S.A. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Rockwork, or perhaps "tree" work, has begun in the Belle's Village/Beast's Castle area. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The Diamond Horseshoe is open, and perhaps longer than just Spring Break. It now sports two fairly permanent and themed cashier registers in front. The menu now offers hot items including a barbecued chicken sandwich. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Disney Animal Programs releases one manatee, takes in another

Disney Animal Programs has marked another manatee success story, and turned right around to start helping another of the endangered marine mammals. After nearly a year of care at The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion, Jasper the manatee was deemed healthy enough to return to the wild. Jasper was released in the Indian River Lagoon on February 22, and was reportedly already integrating with a herd of 30 other manatees.

Jasper's successful release opened up a spot in the manatee tank for Vail, who has been cared for in various facilities since he was injured nearly 15 years ago when he was hit by a watercraft. Vail is missing a portion of his tail paddle, which gives him something in common with his tank-mate, Lou. Lou has been at the pavilion for some time. Vail has settled in, and has already regained his appetite.

Manatees are an endangered species in Florida, with only about 5,000 of the creatures remaining. Disney Animal Programs has been involved with the Manatee Rehabilitation Partnership (MRP), a cooperative public/private partnership that helps to monitor the health and survival of manatees, for the last ten years. Disney park guests help to contribute to the care of the manatees through contributions to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund.


The new flat Adventureland bridge finally has its sign, featuring skulls, spears, and masks. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The temporary interim bridge to Adventureland is still in operation. It would need an upgrade of its support structure if it was decided to make it permanent. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Former Disney Parks chair needs bone marrow transplant

Former Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Judson Green has been recently diagnosed with leukemia, and is in need of a bone marrow (stem cell) transplant, which is now a non-invasive procedure. If you are interested in being tested to see if you are a match, please see the details on how to sign up in a blog post in a blog post by former Disney Parks executive Lee Cockerell.

A Personal Appeal, Year Six

There is nothing more heartbreaking than a baby who is born too soon having medical complications that leave them with medical difficulties for life, or worse, that never let them leave the hospital alive. On May 15, I will once again be walking to raise money for the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

Over the last five years, through the generosity of MousePlanet readers, friends, family, and co-workers, we have raised nearly $19,000. This year, let's do something really special. My personal goal is to raise $5,000 this year, but you can help in ways other than donating to my walk. This year, you can walk with me. Even if you aren't in the Albany, NY area, you can virtually walk with me by joining Team MousePlanet and walking at the March for Babies site near you. If you join me in walking, money that you raise will help babies in your area to get a fighting chance to survive!

For more information about why I'm walking, or to donate to my walk, please go to my fundraising page. To sign up to join Team MousePlanet, please go to the team page. Let's show those struggling babies how much MousePlanet readers care!

With the help of our fantastic Guide Editors, we've just completed a major update of the park restaurant menus from Walt Disney World. Click on the "Dining" section from our Walt Disney World Guide to see the list. Please help us keep the menus up to date! Send photos or scans of park menus to menus@mouseplanet.com to help us keep our listings updated!

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Hall of Presidents – completion of construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Frontierland Shootin' Arcade – completion of construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Fishing Shack – completion of construction.
  • Magic Kingdom bus information booth – completion of construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Town Square Theater – install EMT and fiber optic cable.
  • Magic Kingdom New Fantasyland – Phase III - Tents.
  • Epcot Imagination pavilion – post show area wall.
  • Epcot – overall park cable installation.
  • Epcot Canada pavilion Le Cellier – kitchen wall modifications.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Twilight Zone Tower of Terror – completion of construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Festival of the Lion King Theater – completion of construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom bus coordinators building – completion of construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Conservation Station Animal Programs building – completion of construction.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris elephant area cast stairs – construction work.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom forage warehouse – installation of damper in hood system.
  • Downtown Disney West Side Cirque du Soleil – completion of construction.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace World of Disney – completion of construction.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace LEGO store – installation of two LEGO logo signs.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace stroller rental – sign installation.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace building 4 – roofing work.
  • Contemporary Resort Main Tower building – mechanical work.
  • Contemporary Resort east side guest rooms – mechanical work.
  • Contemporary Resort fourth floor kitchen – mechanical work.
  • Contemporary Resort Convention Center West Rotunda – electrical work.
  • Polynesian Resort Tambu Lounge – construction work.
  • Polynesian Resort Luau Cove – mechanical work.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort buildings 2 & 3 – guestroom renovations.
  • Pop Century Resort – kitchen flue plumbing.


A family of busts (or busts of a family) invite you to solve a murder mystery in the Haunted Mansion's new interactive queue. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Uncle Jacob. Greed was the poison he had swallowed. He went first, the others followed. His killer's face he surely knew. Now try to discover who killed who. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Bertie: Avid hunter and expert shot. In the end that's what he got. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Aunt Florence: Never did a dishonorable deed. Yet found face down in canary seed. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The Twins: Wellington & Forsythia. Departed life while in their beds. With identical bumps on identical heads. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Cousin Maude: Our Sleeping Beauty, who never woke. The night her dreams went up in smoke. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


This crypt of books popping in and out might just offer some hidden clues. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


This clever exhibit offers incomplete poetry by a ghost writer who died of writer's block. Using voice/word recognition, it allows you to finish the poem for him. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Here floats Captain Culpepper Clyne. Allergic to dirt so he's pickled in brine. He braved the sea and all her wrath, but drowned on land while taking a bath. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


This "Ravenscroft" organ (a tribute to singer/actor Thurl Ravenscroft) lets you "play" the "grim" tune that Thurl is famous for singing. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


He's gone from this world of trouble and strife. But a touch of your hand brings his music to life. Touch the instruments on the side of the "decomposing composer" crypt to "play" along with the organ. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


A new crypt wall pays homage to "Ghost Host" voice Paul Frees and Imagineers Ken Anderson, Rolly Crump, and Blaine Gibson. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Recast replicas of the original gravestones representing Imagineers are still found throughout. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Quick takes …

…Disney has launched a new web series called "Destination: Disney," hosted by Samantha Brown, that will appear only on Disney Online. To kick things off, they posted an interview with Brown and Disney CEO Robert Iger discussing the Disney Dream. During the interview, Brown asks Iger about how the AquaDuck came to be. The first episodes of Destination: Disney are now available online.

…It appears that Disney is again looking to shift shopping crowds during spring break. Some quick service restaurants are said to be distributing 10 percent merchandise discounts good only in the morning hours. It is also possible that the off-hours quick service dining discounts might surface as well, but we have no confirmation at this time.

…The Tomorrowland Terrace will be open in the evenings for the next month to help provide dining capacity for the huge spring break crowds.

…Blizzard Beach returned from its annual refurbishment yesterday.

…RunDisney, the umbrella group responsible for organizing Disney's major running events, has announced that there will be an announcement coming soon about a new race. Clues are being leaked one at a time on the RunDisney Facebook page. Two out of ten clues have been posted so far. Can you figure it out?

…Guests who are planning to purchase a Disney PhotoCD and are looking for great photos of the fairy topiaries from Epcot's Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden have a special option to make that happen. Guests who add Claim ID EPCT-FLWR-GRDN-FEST to their PhotoPass account will have those photos added to their CD's bonus content folder.

…Walt Disney World has introduced three new designs for Disney gift cards to commemorate the resort's upcoming 40th anniversary. the card designs are based on the 40th anniversary collage that is being used for ear hats, bags, and other merchandise. Two of the cards are standard shape cards and feature different parts of the collage. A third "cut-out" card has a ear hat design with the ears featuring a "71" (to commemorate the resort's opening year) on one and the 40th anniversary logo (based on the original "globe with ears inside a D" logo for the resort) on the other, with a number of the commemorative 40th anniversary panels (also available as pins) appearing in the background.

…The quiet pool at the Polynesian Resort will be closed for the next couple of weeks for the addition of zero-entry access.

…Fire Rock Geyser at the Wilderness Lodge is reportedly out of commission for a few weeks, as it is in need of repair and Disney is awaiting the arrival of replacement parts.

…We've had an amazing fan stop motion video pointed out to us that was made with 5,151 still photos, took 6 hours to shoot, 12 hours to edit, and professional software to put it all together. Check it out below:

…Registration for the Expedition Everest Challenge, scheduled for May 7, is now 75 percent full. Sign up now.

…Registration is now open for all races during the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend. Sign up now for the Half Marathon, Half Marathon Relay, Disney Family Fun Run 5K, and Disney Kids' Races. Registration for the weekend's ChEAR Squad will open later.

…Registration for the events for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012 is now open.


The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney's Hollywood Studios now hosts an exhibit promoting this summer's release of Cars 2. Fun locations include "Fin Land" and "Towkyo." Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


Also being promoted is the July release of the new Winnie the Pooh film. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.


The handprints in front of the Chinese Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios have been refreshed and repainted. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Crowd update

Crowd information and forecasts are provided by TouringPlans.com, the Web site of the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, to help you better plan your trip to the Disneyland Resort. TouringPlans.com gathers wait time data from a team of in-park researchers and users of their Lines mobile phone application, and then predicts crowd levels for the next 365 days. Using a scale from 1 to 10, TouringPlans.com has a 90 percent accuracy of predicting the crowds to within 1 point, helping visitors prepare for their trips so they can "Do more. Wait less."

Another busy spring week in Florida brought high crowd levels this week at the Walt Disney World Resort. Our research team and fabulous Disney World Lines users submit wait times year round. Last year, here's what our statistical team measured for the upcoming week:

Date Overall
Monday, Mar. 28, 2010 8 out of 10
Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2010 9 out of 10
Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2010 10 out of 10
Thursday, Mar. 31, 2010 10 out of 10
Friday, Apr. 1, 2010 10 out of 10
Saturday, Apr. 2, 2010 10 out of 10
Sunday, Apr. 3, 2010 10 out of 10

The third week of Spring Break last year was Easter, and while this upcoming week will not be nearly as crazy, it will still be very crowded.

  • Monday and Tuesday look to be the most crowded of the week, both days reaching a '10' on the Crowd Calendar.
  • The best day to visit the Magic Kingdom will Wednesday, with a 5.8 crowd level at the park.
  • Try Epcot on Sunday: it's our recommended Best Park with a 5.3 Crowd Level.
  • No special events that will affect crowds this week.

See Disney World crowds for the next 365 days.
Get Disney World wait times on your iPhone, Android or Smartphone.
Do more. Wait less.

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Coming up


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Mickey's Toontown Fair – closed permanently to make way for Fantasyland expansion.
  • Enchanted Tiki Room – Under New Management – closed since January 13, due to a fire. Expected to reopen on June 1.

Epcot

  • Yong Feng Shandian Shop – closed through April 1 for refurbishment.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Star Tours – closed for refurbishment through May 19, 2011.

Animal Kingdom

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

Resorts

  • Saratoga Springs Resort – Paddock Leisure Pool closed through June 29 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.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort – leisure pool between Acadian House and Magnolia Terrace closed March 30-31 for refurbishment.
  • Polynesian Resort – quiet pool closed through April 8 for installation of zero-entry access.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – Wilderness Pool closed through April 22 for refurbishment.

Water Parks

  • No known current refurbishments.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
  • LEGO Imagination Center – temporarily relocated near Once Upon a Toy through mid-April during expansion of the store.

Current Discounts & Promotions

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 Web site.

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.

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

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, 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 and Small World Vacations.

Sail across the ocean for $57 per night

If you'd like to take a TransAtlantic cruise for as little as $57 per night, now is the time to book! The 14-night Eastbound repositioning cruise of the Disney Magic is offering eight days at sea and stops at Castaway Cay; Madeira, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Gibraltar, U.K.; and Barcelona Spain for just $799 per person based on double occupancy for an inside stateroom with restrictions. The cruise leaves Port Canaveral on May 14 and arrives in Barcelona on May 28.

Reservations may be booked through the Disney Cruise Line website, by calling the Disney Cruise Line at 800-951-3532, or your travel agent. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

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.


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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.