Last Tuesday on the Disney Parks blog, Imagineering Executive Vice President and Senior Creative Executive Tom Fitzgerald posted a teaser graphic for the new Star Tours: The Adventures Continue attraction. The graphic was a departures board with information in the Star Wars Aurebesh character set.
The attraction officially reopens on May 20, the first day of Star Wars Weekends, though it's widely believed that there will be soft openings and perhaps Passholder and D23 previews before the official opening.
The sign contains in-jokes indicating that this sign is from the time of the original Star Wars movie, now known as Episode IV: A New Hope. the flights to Alderaan have a status of "See Agent," while Endor flights are "Delayed." Also, one of the departures to Coruscant is flight number 1138, a number that appears in every George Lucas film and is a reference to his directorial debut, THX-1138. The fourth destination, for those who don't want to try to translate from the original Aurebesh, is Tatooine. With the time reference, it seemed unlikely to be the final list, as it has already been stated that this version of the attraction takes place much earlier in the Star Wars saga.
In a follow-up post last Friday, Fitzgerald confirmed that actual destinations for the new version of the attraction, which differ quite a bit from the list in the teaser post. The only two holdovers are the previously announced Tatooine (home planet of the Skywalker clan, where the Starspeeder 1000 will encounter the Boonta Eve Podrace) and Coruscant (the capital of the Republic, and later the Empire).
Additions include the ice world of Hoth, from Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back; Naboo, the home world of Padme Amidala as seen in Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Kashyyyk, the Wookiee home planet seen in Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith; and Geonosis, the Outer Rim planet that served as the cloning headquarters for the Sith and site of the first battle of the Clone Wars in Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. Geonosis is the destination where passengers will encounter the Death Star.
Fitzgerald also revealed that there will be a new spaceport, and that the destinations will be combined in more than 50 different story adventures. This variability will provide a high degree of re-ridability for all guests.
Meanwhile, exterior work continues at the attraction's site at Disney's Hollywood Studios. A construction wall surrounds part of the Ewok village, while the path across the way has been widened. The speeder bike photo location, which had been covered and out of use, is once again available for guest photos. Meanwhile, Tatooine Traders is scheduled to close from April 4 to 17 for refurbishment in preparation for the attraction's return
In a sign that bookings are improving and thus requiring fewer discounts to pack its hotels, Walt Disney World has announced a new set of room-only discounts for Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts only for stays through mid-August. The discounts provide 30 percent off for stays most nights from June 15 through August 13 (25 percent at Animal Kingdom Lodge, Wilderness Lodge and Polynesian Resort), with discounts ranging from 20 percent to 30 percent for most nights from April 22 through June 14. Note that this offer does not include suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas.
You can book all of these dates through April 30, and dates starting May 29 can be booked through May 28. Beware, though as 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.
The new character meet-and-greet locations at the Town Square Theater opened last Friday. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse have one line, while the Disney Princesses have another. Fastpasses can be acquired at a location on the far side of Le Chapeaux. Be aware, though, that this Fastpass location is connected to the main park system, and getting a pass here will keep you from getting a pass for Space Mountain (or any other attraction) until after two hours or after the return window opens, whichever comes first. For a lot more about the new location and what to expect in the queue (including Enchanted Art), check out Jeff Kober's look at the location from last week.
It looks like a new interactive game to be called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, similar to the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, will be coming soon to the Magic Kingdom park. Jeff Kober provided the details in an article last week.
Last week, we noted that we suspected, but did not have confirmation, that off-hours quick service dining discounts might be coming. Now we have confirmation. If you'll be at Walt Disney World between April 17 and 23 and you're willing to eat quick-service meals at off-peak hours, you can save a bundle with a voucher that provides 25 percent off your bill (excluding alcohol) with the purchase of any entree at select quick service restaurants when you buy your meal before 11:30 a.m. or between 3:00 and 4:30 p.m.
In order to shift crowds at quick service locations during the peak crowd week leading up to Easter, Disney is providing an incentive for you to eat during off-peak dining hours, when the lines will be shorter. You and Disney both benefit, as you'll pay less for your food and wait less while doing it, while Disney will alleviate the crowding and long lines (and related complaints and ill will) during peak dining hours.
You can get 25 percent off at the following locations:
You can print out the voucher before you leave home. You can print as many copies as you wish, but remember that you have to surrender a copy with each transaction. If you don't print off enough copies or leave it in the hotel room, there's still no need to worry. More copies of the voucher will appear in the Times Guide available at the parks, as well as at the bottom of select merchandise receipts ro at the bottom of receipts from select quick service restaurants.
As with the previous incarnation of this program in December, the voucher can not be combined with any other offer or promotion, is only valid at the participating locations during off-peak times and during the one week, and does not include taxes, gratuities or alcohol. Also, as before, the offer is not valid with Disney Dining Plan entitlements.
If you'll be heading west for Easter Week, no need to worry. The offer is also being made at the Disneyland Resort as well, with a separate voucher.
The Sounds Like Summer concert series brings "tribute bands" to the America Gardens Theatre at Epcot from June 12 through July 30, one week shorter than last year. This year will see seven bands (most of whom appeared last year) performing for 7 days each. Here's the rundown:
The concerts are included in the cost of admission to Epcot. Showtimes are 5:45 p.m., 7:00 p.m., and 8:15 p.m. every day except July 4, where shows will be performed at 5:15 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:45 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
If you have provided your email address to Disney Destinations at some point, you've probably gotten a notification email that your address may have been exposed to malicious hackers. Disney and many other large companies have been notifying customers about the security breach at Epsilon, "the world's largest permission-based email marketing provider, sending over 40 billion emails annually," according to their website. Approximately 2 percent of their clients were affected by the unauthorized entry into their system, which resulted in the theft of email addresses and/or customer names only, according to an Epsilon press release and emails from the affected companies.
Other companies affected include JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Capital One, US Bancorp, Hilton, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Best Buy, TiVo, Walgreen, and Kroger. If you have a Disney Visa credit or debit card, you've also been exposed through JP Morgan Chase.
Disney's email states that they "regret that this incident has occurred and any inconvenience this incident may cause you" and reassures customers that "[w]e take your privacy very seriously, and we will continue to work diligently to protect your personal information."
The notification also warned that customers may receive spam or phishing emails or emails that contain malware as a result of the breach, and advised caution in opening any emails from unknown sources. That is a good strategy in all cases, not just when email address repositories are compromised, as there are many ways for malicious hackers to obtain lists of email addresses. The notification also included contact information if customers had any questions.
For the first time in two years, Typhoon Lagoon was the site of a reported sexual battery last Sunday, March 27, when Olmedo Ramirez, 41, from West Palm Beach, Florida, was arrested for attempting to molest a 14-year-old girl at Typhoon Lagoon. The unidentified girl was swimming in the wave pool with her mother, and repeatedly saw the man popping up near her. When her mother went to get some food at around 3:30 p.m., the man reportedly pulled her bathing suit bottom away from her body and put his hand inside. She spun around and saw the man.
The girl reported the incident to her parents and Typhoon Lagoon security staff, and identified the man. Ramirez was stopped by Orange County Sheriff's deputies as he was leaving the park with his family. He was arrested and charged with attempted sexual battery. Ramirez claims that he had been swimming with his son and did not touch the girl.
Ramirez was held on $15,000 bond.
During June and July of 2009, there were two unrelated incidents of sexual battery at Typhoon Lagoon. Both of those offenders were caught.
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 email@example.com to help us keep our listings updated!
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…Disney Cruise Line will be announcing its 2012 itineraries and more at a press conference in New York City this Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. EDT. I'll be there to provide live updates from the event via Twitter and Facebook, and we'll have a full write-up here on the site on Thursday.
…Last Monday, Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix posted on MousePad's Disney Cruise Line message board that the Disney Dream has adjusted the schedule for its three nightly theatrical performances. Passengers are assigned to show times based on their dining rotation, and changes were on a space-available basis. The third show has been dropped, with the remaining two performances taking place at 6:15 and 8:30 p.m. (for passengers having dinner seatings at 8:15 and 5:45 p.m., respectively). With the demand for the "Villains Tonight!" and "Disney's Believe" shows, additional matinee performances have been added so that those with small children can take advantage of those shows, alleviating the crush at evening performances.
…The Royal Bahamas Police Force has not found any evidence of foul play in the disappearance of Disney Wonder crew member Rebecca Coriam on March 22, but the case remains under active investigation. The last that Coriam was seen was during a phone conversation with a friend aboard the same ship. Sources say that the conversation "did not go well." Coriam did not appear for her shift in Youth Activities that morning, and has not been seen since. The ship was passing Cabo San Lucas on its second day at sea on the way to its first port of call in Puerta Vallarta. The ship has been searched multiple times, including all staterooms, and the ocean has been searched, as well. The U.S. Coast Guard, the Mexican navy, and the Bahamas Maritime Authority have participated in the search. The Bahamian authorities are leading the investigation because the ship is registered there and the incident took placed in international waters. There is no further word on the investigation at this time.
…Several Walt Disney World restaurants will be serving special Easter meals: Cape May Cafe (breakfast), Captain's Grill (brunch), Chef Mickey's (brunch), The Wave…of American Flavors (brunch), Garden Grove (dinner), and Portobello (dinner). Please check with Disney Dining—either via web or by calling 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463)—to verify whether any seating remains for any of these meals.
…When the Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden at Epcot disappears following the close of the International Flower & Garden Festival, look for Tinker Bell and her friends to relocate, at least temporarily, back to the Magic Kingdom. They're expected to meet and greet guests at the Adventureland Verandah.
…Walt Disney World will reportedly introduce special "scented" gift cards for Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Graduation celebrations.
…Contrary to our speculation last week, the new Diamond Horseshoe dining setup will close again following the peak Easter break period.
…The wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mother of the young monorail pilot killed in a July 2009 accident has been settled and dismissed. The terms of the settlement between Walt Disney World and Christine Wuennenberg, mother of Austin Wuennenberg, are confidential. Austin Wuennenberg was killed early on the morning of July 5, 2009, when another monorail, driving in reverse, crashed into the front of the monorail that he was driving, crushing and killing him.
…There will be no special Mother's Day brunch during the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival this year.
…For the second year, Typhoon Lagoon will serve as the official headquarters location for the "World's Largest Swimming Lesson," an attempt to beat last year's world record for the largest simultaneous swimming lesson. Last year's effort involved almost 4,000 participants in 34 states, five countries, and three continents. This year's event will take place on June 14 at 11 a.m. EDT. Registration closes May 20. You can get more information or sign up at the event's website.
…The 2011 VEX Robotics World Championship will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex April 14-16.
…If you'll be at Walt Disney World on Saturday, May 21, and would like to enjoy food prepared by great chefs from around the Orlando area (and don't mind a steep price tag for the fundraising event), you may want to check out the United Way Chef's Gala. The event benefits Hear of Florida United Way, and takes place at Epcot's World Showplace pavilion (formerly known as the Millennium Village, between the Canada and United Kingdom pavilions). Tickets are $225 per person or $400 per couple. For that price, you get a sparkling wine reception and a two-and-a-half hour "grand tasting" featuring more than 20 of the area's top chefs and restaurants, including wines, desserts and specialty coffee. Check out the event's website or call 407-429-2129 for more information.
…Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger, Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs, and other Disney executives joined officials of the Florida Hospital for Children in celebrating the grand opening of the Walt Disney Pavilion. The new addition features 200 pediatric beds, a dedicated pediatric Emergency Department, an advanced 81-bed Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and pediatric surgical suites. The pavilion features Disney artwork and theming throughout, and is designed to put children at ease when they need to go to the hospital for treatment.
Watch some of the highlights of the dedication. Video courtesy of Disney.
…Registration for the Expedition Everest Challenge, scheduled for May 7, is now 83 percent full.
…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.
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."
Crowds will remain high this week, but will be down slightly this week from last, which had high numbers despite severe weather. Crowds will begin to climb again for their Easter-week peaks following this week. 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:
The lower numbers this week are all relative, as crowds will still hit 7 or 8 most days. Crowds will be better this week than in the coming weeks, with mostly 9 and 10 ratings forecasted for the days beyond this week leading to Easter.
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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 Web site.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.