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Update for May 30 – June 5, 2011

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

News and Views

New room-only discount for late summer/early fall | No commercial, but American Idol winner Scotty McCreery is "going to Disney World" | Eat to the Beat final schedule released | Primeval Whirl return pushed back yet again | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

New room-only discount for late summer/early fall

If your travel dates don't quite link up with the free-dining promotion, or if you'd rather get a room-only discount and buy your food yourself, you're in luck. A new room-only discount has been released for Walt Disney World stays Sunday through Thursday nights during the period from August 14 through October 1, 2011. Rates start at $69 per night for Value resorts, $129 for Moderate resorts, $189 for Animal Kingdom Lodge and Wilderness Lodge, and $209 for Saratoga Springs and Old Key West Resorts. Note that these rates are not available for Friday and Saturday nights.


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The offer does not includes suites or 3-bedroom Grand Villas. Some other restrictions apply and the number of rooms available is limited. You can book your reservation now through August 13.

Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7837, or your travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are Small World Vacations and MouseEarVacations.com.

Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations and Mary Kraemer of MouseEarVacations.com for tipping us off!

No commercial, but American Idol winner Scotty McCreery is "going to Disney World"

Scotty McCreery, this year's American Idol winner, will be appearing this morning at Disney's Hollywood Studios. While he didn't get his own "going to Disney World" commercial, he will be celebrated in a 10 a.m. motorcade from the front of the park to the American Idol Experience attraction, where there will be a small stage set up for the event. He will take some questions from the audience and pose for photos with Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. McCreery was spotted enjoying the park yesterday.

McCreery, 17, defeated 16-year-old fellow country singer Lauren Alaina in the final round of the television reality show last week. The two were the youngest finalists in the show's history. Over 122 million votes were cast in the final round, and over 750 million during the entire season.

Jeff Kober will have a report on McCreery's appearance here tomorrow.

The American Idol Experience gives guests the opportunity to sing on a replica of the TV show's stage and compete for the audience's votes. The highest vote-getter for each show during the day compete in the day's finale for a "Golden Ticket" that will guarantee a spot at a future audition for the TV show. Auditions for the next season of the show will take place in June, July, and August in St. Louis, Portland, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Charleston, and Houston.

Eat to the Beat final schedule released

Walt Disney World has released the final schedule for the Eat to the Beat concert series during the 16th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival this fall. Once again this year, the opening weekend will feature Taylor Dayne and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy will close out the series. (Big Bad Voodoo Daddy's appearance coincides with MouseAdventure weekend, so if you're planning to join us for the big game, you may also be able to spot some of us at the concerts.)

New this year are Gin Blossoms, The Pointer Sisters, and The Orchestra, and Richard Marx returns after a one-year absence. Gone from last year are Kool & The Gang, Taylor Hicks, Exposé, and Rick Springfield. The Orchestra performed a one-night series of three shows (perhaps an audition for this fall?) at the America Gardens Theatre on February 25.

Here's the schedule (still subject to change, of course):

  • Sept. 30-Oct. 2 Taylor Dayne
  • Oct. 3-5 – .38 Special
  • Oct. 6-7 – Jon Secada
  • Oct. 8-9 Roger Hodgson, formerly of Supertramp
  • Oct. 10-12 Billy Ocean
  • Oct. 13-16 Starship starring Mickey Thomas
  • Oct. 17-19 Sugar Ray
  • Oct. 20-21 The Orchestra, starring former members of ELO
  • Oct. 22-23 Howard Jones
  • Oct. 24-26 Boyz II Men
  • Oct. 27-28 Gin Blossoms
  • Oct. 29-30 Sister Hazel
  • Oct. 31-Nov. 1 Hanson
  • Nov. 2-3 The Pointer Sisters
  • Nov. 4-6 Night Ranger
  • Nov. 7-8 Air Supply
  • Nov. 9-10 Richard Marx
  • Nov. 11-13 Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Performances will take place three times nightly at the America Gardens Theatre, and are included in the price of park admission.

Primeval Whirl return pushed back yet again

Primeval Whirl has again extended its refurbishment, this time to September 14. The attraction's refurbishment was originally planned to run from January 17 through April 5. but the completion date was pushed back first to April 16, then June 1, and now September. On March 13, during the refurbishment, a cast member was killed when hit by a ride vehicle while working on the attraction. It was the second fatal accident in three and a half years at Primeval Whirl.

Karen Price, a cast member working the attraction, was hit by a ride vehicle on November 24, 2007, and died five days later. The following March, Disney made some additional safety enhancements, and two months later OSHA fined Disney $21,500 over five violations in the incident.

Send us your menu photos!

We've recently 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 Pinocchio Village Haus – replacement of exhaust fan.
  • Magic Kingdom Country Bear Jamboree – electrical panel work.
  • Magic Kingdom Enchanted Grove – roofing, envelope rehab.
  • Magic Kingdom Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe – kitchen electrical upgrades.
  • Epcot Morocco pavilion – pole barn mechanical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Lights Motors Action Extreme Stunt Show – tire storage fire protection upgrades.
  • Contemporary Resort monorail entrance gates – general construction upgrades.
  • Grand Floridian Resort monorail entrance gates – general construction upgrades.
  • Polynesian Resort monorail entrance gates – general construction upgrades.
  • Polynesian Resort builidings 7 & 8 – mechanical work.
  • Wilderness Lodge – roof mock-up.
  • Wilderness Lodge – structural and roofing work.
  • Port Orleans Riverside building 95 (Parterre Place) – room renovation.
  • Sassagoula drydock & canal – dredging.
  • Coronado Springs Resort Ranchos building 7A – roof repairs.

Quick takes …

…The new Phineas & Ferb "meet & play" opened yesterday at the Streets of America Backlot at Disney's Hollywood Studios, near the exit of MuppetVision 3-D.

…Babycakes NYC at Downtown Disney has announced new hours. The bakery, co-located with Pollo Campero and Fresh Appeal, will be open from 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. daily.

…The 2012 Disney STEP Classic, hosted by Disney Youth Programs, will take place February 18-19, 2012. The event will feature Master STEP Workshops provided by the National Step Show Alliance, as well as an opportunity to perform at the Premier Theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The event has added a third age group, 14 & under, to the existing 18 & up and 19 & under divisions. For more information, you can follow along on the event's Facebook page or website.

…The Casual Regular (part-time) contract was ratified by the Service Trades Council Union (STCU), a much quicker end to the negotiation process than for the full-time contract.

…Walt Disney World's newest competition, Legoland Florida, has announced that it will open October 15. The park is being built on the former site of Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven, Florida.

…Registration is now open for all races during the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend of October 1. Sign up now for the Half Marathon, Half Marathon Relay, Disney Family Fun Run 5K, and Disney Kids' Races. Registration for the individual half marathon is now 65 percent full!

…Registration for the events for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012 (on the weekend of January 7) is now open. Note: Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is now 70 percent full!

Crowd update

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Crowd information and forecasts are provided by TouringPlans.com, the Web site of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, to help you better plan your trip to the Walt Disney World 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."

 

The TouringPlans.com Crowd Calendar reflects how long you will wait in line for attractions at the Walt Disney World theme parks, on average. The numbers are based on wait times for all days on record. When a day is predicated as a 1 out of 10, it doesn’t mean that the parks are empty, just that when compared to other days these wait times are in the bottom 10%. Our research team and fabulous Disney World Lines users submit wait times year round. Here's what our statistical team measured for the upcoming week:

Date Overall
Monday, May 30, 2010 7 out of 10
Tuesday, May 31, 2010 9 out of 10
Wednesday, June 1, 2010 4 out of 10
Thursday, June 2, 2010 5 out of 10

This week sees moderate numbers on the Crowd Calendar everyday, including the weekend. Check out the Disney World Park Crowd Levels page on TouringPlans.com for park-specific predictions and recommendations on which days to visit and avoid particular parks!

  • Star Tours: The Adventures Continue will continue to have elevated wait times. These times greatly exceed what Disney predicted internally, but fall in line with our predictions.
  • Star Wars Weekends make Disney's Hollywood Studios the park to avoid over the weekend!

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 with its original, classic show on August 16.

Epcot

  • No known current refurbishments.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Voyage of The Little Mermaid – closed for refurbishment August 15-September 3.
  • Sounds Dangerous Starring Drew Carey – seasonal downtime beginning May 1.
  • Phineas & Ferb play-n-greet on near Mama Melrose's – opened May 29.
  • Winnie-the-Pooh meet-n-greet at Art of Disney Animation – now open.
  • Star Tours – now open.
  • Cars 2 meet-n-greet near MuppetVision 3-D – opens June 5.
  • Lightning McQueen replaces Herbie the Love Bug at Lights, Motors, Action! – begins June 5.

Animal Kingdom

  • Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment through September 14, 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.

Water Parks

  • Blizzard Beach – closes for annual refurbishment October 30.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Current Discounts & Promotions

Free dining returns

Last week, a two-tiered free dining package was announced for Disney Visa Rewards cardholders, and the package becomes available to the general public today. The free dining plan is available for stays August 28 through September 24. The deal includes lodging, base Magic Your Way passes (you can upgrade them with any of the available add-ons), a 20-page Disney's PhotoPass Photo Book, and the free dining plan. Additional pages may be added to your Photo Book, at standard cost, if you wish.

If you choose a Value Resort for your stay, you'll receive the free Quick Service Dining Plan (two quick-service meals and two snacks per person per night, plus one resort refillable drink mug per person). If you'd prefer to stay at a Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resort, you'll get the free standard Disney Dining Plan (one table- service meal, one quick-service meal, and one snack per person per night). Those at value resorts can upgrade their Quick Service Dining Plan to the standard plan for the difference in the plan's cost. The dining plans do not include gratuities or alcoholic beverages.

One thing to note here: Since these dates are already within the 180-day booking window, some table-service restaurants might already be booked solid. Don't count on having the ability to book any specific restaurant without checking first. Of course, if dining is the most important part of your trip, you can book your dining reservations first to lock in your favorites, then find a resort for those nights. You can always cancel the dining reservations if you can't get a resort for those dates.

You can book through August 27 while availability lasts, but reservations may go fast. The discount codes for the Disney Rewards Visa package are I25 for Value Resorts and O2M for Moderates and above. The codes for the general public were not available at publication time.

Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7211, or your travel agent. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Room-only, Deluxe/Deluxe Villas-only discounts released for summer

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 Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney's Wilderness Lodge and Disney's 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 three-bedroom Grand Villas.

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 three-bedroom Grand Villas are not included.

Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7837, or your travel agent and using booking code M2X. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Passholder discount through early June

Passholders can save on stays through June 2.

Passholders can book through the day before arrival. Beware, though as rooms may go fast. The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Suites and three-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.

Book your reservation through the Walt Disney World passholder website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-5691, or through your travel agent and using booking code L2H. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Passholder discounts released for summer

Walt Disney World has announced a new set of passholder discounts for stays through mid-August. The discounts provide 20-35 percent off for stays most nights from June 3 through August 13. The Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian Resort are excluded for all dates, and Wilderness Lodge is excluded June 3-14. Passholders will save 35 percent at Deluxe Villa Resorts, 30 percent at Deluxe Resorts, and 20 percent at Moderate and Value Resorts.

Passholders can book through the day before arrival. Beware, though as rooms may go fast. The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Suites and three-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 passholder website, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7414, or your travel agent and using booking code QT9. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World 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 Web site.

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 the Magic Kingdom on July 4, 2011.

Disney has stated that the offer will be extended through September 2012, but as of press time the Walt Disney World website has not been updated to reflect this.

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.