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Update for June 6 – June 12, 2011

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

News and Views

Star Wars Celebration to return to Orlando in 2012 | Gay Days 2011 has no story | Win a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite! | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Star Wars Celebration to return to Orlando in 2012

Star Wars Celebration V, last year's gathering of the science fiction saga's fandom in Orlando sponsored by Lucasfilm, was such a success that the event will be making an unprecedented return to the city next year for Star Wars Celebration VI. The event last year brought 32,000 people to the Orange County Convention Center, and a larger crowd is expected next year.


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While the event's website states that "Like the Rebel Alliance, Star Wars Celebration doesn't have a permanent home. Instead, it travels around the world to avoid Imperial detection—and to bring Star Wars to as many fans as possible," for the second time, the event will return to a previous location (Celebrations II and III were both held in Indianapolis).

Star Wars Celebration VI will take place August 23 through 26 at the Orange County Convention Center. The exhibition hall will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (5 p.m. on Sunday), but events may run until 10 p.m. or later on Thursday through Saturday nights.

Fans of all ages and all parts of the saga, from the original trilogy to the "prequel" trilogy to the "Clone Wars" animated TV series, will gather to celebrate all things Jedi, Sith, and in between. It is expected that there will be some sort of tie-in to the Star Tours: The Adventures Continue attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios, as with the "Last Tour to Endor" event last summer.

Tickets for the event are on sale now, and reservations are open at the participating event hotels (or you can stay at a Disney resort). More information is available at the Star Wars Celebration website. May The Force be with you!

Gay Days 2011 has no story

This year's 20th anniversary Gay Days event, sponsored by an outside tourism group but with many events taking place within the Walt Disney World theme parks, went off without major incident. One group begged to differ, however. The Florida Family Association, a conservative Christian group, spent $7,000 to fly banners near the parks for two days, 10 hours a day, declaring "WARNING GAY DAY AT DISNEY 6/4" on Friday, and "WARNING GAY PRIDE DAY @DISNEY 2DAY" on Saturday. The group claims on its website that "FFA estimates that as many as ten thousand (10,000) people enter the park only to promptly exit after witnessing the same-sex revelry." Disney and event organizers disagree, and we've heard no reports of any outrageous behavior or people leaving the park this year.

Meanwhile, the annual event, which grew from a single-afternoon gathering in 1991, now reportedly brings over $150 million in tourism to the area over its six-day run. "The economy is improving because what Gay Days brings into it," said Chris Alexander-Manley president of the GayDayS.com sponsoring organization. "Our crowd behaves better than most convention crowds, so come on out and see what it is really about." Considering the number of participants, estimated at more than 160,000, it's pretty remarkable that there have been no reported incidents, regardless of the makeup of the group.

The FFA's website also proclaims that "Many Gay Day patrons wore shirts that promoted homosexuality, kissed, hugged and groped in very public places and dressed in drag all to the curiosity of tens of thousands of children." However, the photos used to illustrate the "kissing, hugging, and groping" showed two men hugging in a way that would not be out of character for straight male friends, and the photo illustrating "the curiousity of tens of thousands of children" showed kids wandering around looking in all different directions, with no public displays of affection anywhere in the image.

It would seem that the controversy over Gay Days is largely gone, except for the one group that continues to use it to try to make headlines.

Win a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite!

There's a new chance for you to win a night in the Cinderella Castle Suite. Delta Vacations is running a contest where the grand prize includes a one-night stay for the winner and three guests in the fabulous suite inside the landmark icon of the Magic Kingdom. To enter, visit the contest website by August 15 and fill out an entry form.

The complete grand prize includes roundtrip flights to Orlando, one night's stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite, two more nights in a Disney deluxe resort hotel, 4-day Magic Your Way tickets with Park Hopper Option, and Disney's Magical Express transportation, all for four people. The contest rules state that the prize must be taken September 16 to 18, 2011, though those dates are obviously one day short of the length of the prize, so it's likely that the actual dates will be September 16 to 19.

If you've wanted to stay in the Cinderella Castle Suite, check it out!

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 Liberty Square Riverboat landing – construction work.
  • Magic Kingdom Diamond Horseshoe Saloon – construction work.
  • Magic Kingdom Frontierland Mercantile Feed – construction work.
  • Magic Kingdom Fairytale Gardens – electrical work.
  • Magic Kingdom Buzz Lightyear merchandise cart – construction work.
  • Magic Kingdom Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – construction work.
  • Magic Kingdom Enchanted Tiki Room – construction work.
  • Magic Kingdom Haunted Mansion – construction work.
  • Magic Kingdom Pecos Bill Tall Tale Cafe & Inn – carpentry work on roof.
  • Epcot The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion – installation of insert for solar tubes on top of aquarium.
  • Epcot The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion – construction work.
  • Epcot Innoventions West – completion of work.
  • Epcot Germany pavilion clock & stein shop – electrical work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Disney Junior – electrical work on catwalk.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster – construction work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios American Idol Experience – construction work.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios security office – electrical installation.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios backstage main guard gate – electrical installation.
  • Blizzard Beach Lottowatta Lodge – mechanical work.
  • Typhoon Lagoon boiler room and wave pool boiler – mechanical work.
  • ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex softball fields, walkway between The Milk House and Champion Stadium – mechanical work.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace Rainforest Cafe – construction work.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace Disney Day of Christmas – construction work.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace Pollo Campero – construction work.
  • Downtown Disney Pleasure Island T-Rex Cafe – construction work on planter walls.
  • Downtown Disney West Side Ridemakerz – construction work.
  • Downtown Disney West Side Wolfgang Puck Cafe – installation of new make up air units.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa bus entrance – road repair.
  • Polynesian Resort Luau Cove – mechanical work to replace auxiliary heating unit.
  • Wilderness Lodge Cub's Den – electrical work.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Reception Outpost – electrical work.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground visual display complex – construction work.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort building F – room renovations.
  • All Star Movies Resort commercial building – electrical work.
  • Hess Express all three locations – disconnection & reconnection of electrical circuits, setting of new cabinets & coffee equipment.
  • Hess Express near Disney's Hollywood Studios – electrical for new car wash equipment.

Quick takes …

…As we reported last week, American Idol winner Scotty McCreery visited Disney's Hollywood Studios last Monday. Jeff Kober reported on the event last Tuesday. You can read more about it here.

…Disney Parks & Resorts has signed a sponsorship agreement with Chiquita Brands International for supplying its parks, resorts, and cruise ships. Look for Chiquita and Fresh Express products to begin appearing in the parks. Chiquita's chairman, Fernando Aguirre, has been quited as saying that his goal is to have their products shelved right next to candy bars, soft drinks, and snack products.

…Disney's Hollywood Studios will be opening one hour earlier than previously announced next weekend for Star Wars Weekends.

…Demolition work on the Fantasyland Skyway station has begun. Once the structure is down, work will begin on construction of a new restroom facility that will allow the closure of the restrooms adjacent to the Peter Pan's Flight queue area.

…The band performing at Epcot's United Kingdom pavilion is now known as "The British Revolution" instead of "The English Channel." Outside of Disney, the group is still known as "The British Airwaves."

…The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Comcast, which once tried to buy The Walt Disney Company and now owns NBC Universal, is looking to buy out the half of Universal Orlando owned by the Blackstone Group. That would give NBC Universal complete control of the theme resort. NBC Universal's new boss is Steve Burke, who was Comcast's chief operating officer when the company tried to buy Disney. Burke is a former Walt Disney Company executive who once ran Disneyland Paris. It would seem that Burke will have his theme parks to run, it'll just be Universal Orlando and not the Disney theme park empire.

…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 70 percent full, and the half marathon relay is 50 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."

 

Below are the predicted crowd numbers generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. Because choosing the least crowded days to visit, but not having a good plan of attack for avoiding crowd concentrations is like ordering Diet Coke with three Big Macs, we highly recommend that you follow a Touring Plan.

You can now access these Touring Plans on the go with our Lines Mobile Wait Times app!

 

Date Overall
Monday, June 6, 2011 6 out of 10
Tuesday, June 7, 2011 7 out of 10
Wednesday, June 8, 2011 5 out of 10
Thursday, June 9, 2011 6 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!

  • The Magic Kingdom is our Best Park Friday through Sunday.
  • 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.
  • Cars 2 meet-n-greet near MuppetVision 3-D – opened June 5.
  • Lightning McQueen replaces Herbie the Love Bug at Lights, Motors, Action! – began 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.

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.

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.

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.