Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update for June 20 – June 26, 2011
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Magic Kingdom again world's #1 theme park in 2010; lead over Disneyland Park narrows | Passport to a World of Flavors to be theme of this year's Epcot Food & Wine Festival | Tables in Wonderland sets special events for July | New artwork for Storybook Circus section of New Fantasyland released | Disney Vacation Club changes logo to lukewarm reception | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom finds itself atop the heap in theme park attendance once again, with 2010 attendance of 16.97 million visitors. Disneyland Park in California again came in second at 15.98 million guests. Tokyo's Disneyland and Disney Sea parks finished third and fourth with 14.45 million and 12.66 million, respectively. Magic Kingdom was the only one of the top 4 parks to have an attendance drop, at 1.5 percent. Disneyland was up .5 percent, while the Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea were up 5.9 and 5.5 percent, respectively. The information comes to us via the annual theme park attendance listing, now put together by AECOM (a professional technical and management support services firm) and published by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA).
Epcot came in fifth at 10.83 million visitors. Disneyland Paris saw a huge drop of 2.6 percent, enough to drop it from fourth to sixth place on the list in 2010, to 10.5 million visitors. Disney's Animal Kingdom was the only Walt Disney World park to see an increase in 2010, up 1 percent to 9.69 million. That, combined with a 1 percent drop at Disney's Hollywood Studios, put the "Nah-ta-zu" park in seventh place, while the not-really-a-working-studio park was in eighth, with 9.6 million visitors.
Ninth-place Universal Studios Japan was again the top non-Disney park, with 8.16 million visitors (up 2 percent), with the surprising Everland in South Korea (with 11.6 percent growth) rounding out the top 10 at 6.88 million. Disney California Adventure was 11th with 3 percent growth to 6.28 million. The top U.S. non-Disney park was Universal Islands of Adventure in Orlando with 5.95 million, an incredible jump of 30.2 percent due to the influence of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Universal Studios Orlando followed its sister park with a 6.1 percent jump to 5.93 million.
Hong Kong Disneyland came in at number 14 worldwide with 5.2 million, up 13 percent. Walt Disney Studios Paris was number 18 worldwide (down 2.6 percent), but due to drops at other parks this is the highest that the least of Disney parks has appeared worldwide. SeaWorld Florida dropped 12.1 percent to 5.1 million guests, good for 15th place, and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay was in 21st place with 4.2 million, up 2.4 percent.
Attendance grew at all Disney parks in California, Tokyo, and Hong Kong. Out of the six parks in Florida and Paris, only Disney's Animal Kingdom saw a rise. Disney parks were again the top six domestic parks, with Universal's two Florida parks in hot pursuit of DCA thanks to the Harry Potter-related boost. We'll see with the 2011 numbers next year whether the Potter Effect will keep closing the gap, or if the Universal numbers have plateaued.
The U.S. and world water park rankings again were led by Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, at 2.04 and 1.87 million, respectively, down 1 percent each. The world's number three water park was Chmelong Water Park in China, with 1.8 million, unchanged from last year. Number three in the U.S. and world number five was relative newcomer Aquatica at SeaWorld Florida with 1.5 million.
You can view the full report online.
The annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival event returns to Walt Disney World from September 30 through November 13, 2011. The theme of the 16th annual event is "Passport to a World of Flavors." With six continents represented by the 25 international marketplaces (still no Antarctica booth this year), the event serves tapas-sized portions for $3-$8 apiece during the 45-day festival. [Note that this year's MouseAdventure: World Explorers III falls during the final weekend of the festival.]
Three new marketplaces debut this year, two of which help to promote Disney tourism ventures. The first-ever Hawaiian marketplace will feature kalua pork sliders and tuna poke with seaweed salad and lotus root chips, each of which can be paired with a Seven Tiki Mai Tai, Kona Longboard, or Pipeline beer. Don't be surprised to see literature promoting the shared Disney Vacation Club and hotel accommodations of Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa (opening this August) at or near this kiosk.
The new Caribbean Islands marketplace will serve ropa vieja with rice and jerk-spiced chicken with mango salsa, both of which can be served with a frozen Dragon Berry Colada or frozen Rock Coconut Mojito. This marketplace has the potential to help promote Disney Cruise Line itineraries to the Eastern and Western Caribbean.
A Portugal marketplace debuts with a Portugal wine bar and a calamari salad with olives and smoked paprika. The Scandinavia marketplace returns with a new cocktail called Xante Sunshine, made with Xante pear and cognac liqueur, and the Canada pavilion will add apple ice wine.
Also new this year is the Odyssey Lounge, where guests can check email, play games, and surf the web while enjoying a tasty adult beverage. Charging stations will also be available for phones and other electronic devices.
Fresh off of their sponsoring of this spring's Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, HGTV will be presenting entertaining seminars every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the festival. It appears that the cable network may be considering a long-term deal to sponsor both festivals with this second consecutive appearance.
Returning favorites include:
- The Festival Welcome Center at the Wonders of Life pavilion will again host a wine bar, Authentic Taste Seminars, Authors Without Borders presentations, among other events.
- More than 270 chefs will participate, including many Disney chefs and celebrity chefs including "Chef Jeff" Henderson, Cat Cora, Alan Wong, Gale Gand, Suvir Saran, Jamie Deen, Rock Harper, Celina Tio, Robert Irvine, Andrew Zimmern, "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro, Warren Brown, Art Smith, Keegan Gerhard and more. It wouldn't be surprising to see episodes of some of their shows related to appearances at the Festival.
- Guests will again be able to get the popular Marketplace Discovery Passport, which allowed guests to collect stamps from the kiosks that they visit and to have an easy checklist for tracking and rating the foods that they ate.
- Sessions such as Kitchen Memories (formerly "Celebrating Family and Friends in the Kitchen") and the Mixology Seminar will be back.
- Special events including the First Bites Opening Reception on September 29 will be back, as will the "3D" Disney Dessert Discovery dessert party with special viewing for Illuminations.
- Party for the Senses will return beginning October 8. This year, the event will run from 7:30-10:00 p.m. each Friday night.
The new menu items and other information will be previewed at a special Tables in Wonderland event in July, and booking for special events will open on August 16. You will be able to call 407-WDW-FEST (407-939-3378) to make those reservations. We'll continue to track updated information here in the Walt Disney World Resort Update, or you can also check the Food and Wine Festival page on the Walt Disney World website.
Tables in Wonderland, the discount dining program available to Annual Passholders and Florida residents, is hosting two exclusive special events in July.
On Sunday, July 10, there will be a special Sunday Brunch at Narcoossee's at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa from noon to 2 p.m. The $95 price includes gratuity, but not tax. The meal will feature passed hors d'oeuvres and a plated meal. The meal will feature the wines of Domaine Chandon-Moët and Chandon USA. The event is limited to 50 attendees.
Hors d'oeuvres during the reception include Spiced Shrimp Skewer with Horseradish Foam, Caviar on Potato Cakes with Lobster, Crème Fraiche and Chives, and Smoked Salmon with Hass Avocado and Mascarpone Cheese on Romaine Hearts, paired with Moët Chandon Extra-Dry Riche as well as Bloody Mary Martinis featuring Belvedere Bloody Mary Vodka and a garnish bar. The plated meal starts with an appetizer trio of Tuna Niçoise with a Poached Quail Egg, Seared Scallop with Basil-Citrus Emulsion, and Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Remoulade Sauce, paired with Domaine Chandon Chardonnay, Carneros. A salad of Roasted Beet Salad with Watercress, Frisée, Goat Cheese, Candied Pecans, and Orange-Honey Vinaigrette is paired with Domaine Chandon Pinot Meunier, Carneros.
You'll get a choice of entree, either Maine Lobster Frittata, Potato Crust, Chorizo, Asparagus, and Brie or Steak and Eggs with Crabmeat, Grilled Asparagus, and Béarnaise Sauce. Both are paired with Domaine Chandon Pinot Noir, Carneros. The meal concludes with a dessert of Almond Crusted Cheesecake with Lambert Cherry Sauce, paired with Domaine Chandon Etoile Rose, Napa and Sonoma.
Dress is business casual.
On Saturday, July 16, you can get a sneak peek at some of what's coming to the 16th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival this fall at the "Wonders Retreat" in Epcot's Future World. For $99 per person, plus tax but including gratuity, guests will hear speakers discuss the new marketplace kiosks and special events at this year's Festival, and enjoy a buffet reception and plated dinner previewing some of the new tastes premiering this year. The event is limited to 80 attendees. The event will run from 6:30–9 p.m. The park closes at 9 p.m. with the showing of Illuminations.
The buffet reception features Kalua Pork Slider with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise, Swedish Meatballs with Lingon Berries, and Shrimp on the Barbie with Pepper Berry - Citrus Glaze. Dinner begins with an appetizer of Seared Sea Scallop with Kumara-Red Curry Puree and Apple Radish Salad. Entrees include Ropa Vieja (Braised Beef) with White Rice, Jerk spiced Chicken Drumstick with Mango Salsa, and Ocean Spray Craisin Bread with Butter. The evening finishes off with a dessert trio of White Chocolate Macadamia Mousse with Dark Chocolate Pearls, Tres Leches Verrine, and Pastel de Nata. Beer, wine, soda and water are also included.
Dress for this event is not specified, so it is likely theme park casual.
To request a reservation to either event, send an e-mail to Tables in Wonderland (mailto:WDW.Tables.In.Wonderland@disney.com) with your interest, name, daytime phone number, home address, and the number of people in your party. Reservations are first-come, first-served. You will need to provide your credit card number over the phone at the time of confirmation.
Walt Disney World has finally released new concept art for the "Storybook Circus" area of New Fantasyland. The train station will be completely reworked, and there will be a Casey Jr.- themed web play area right outside. The Great Goofini, a re-themed Barnstormer at Goofy's Wise Acre Farm, will sit between the train station and the new "Double Dumbo" attraction, where two two Dumbo spinner rides (spinning in opposite directions, so both spinners will have their elephants facing those entering the waiting area between the dual rides) appear to have absorbed the water feature from Disneyland Park where the flying elephants land just above a pool of water. While the entertainment inside Dumbo's big top is not known yet, it will be the "queueless" waiting system previously announced.
There are other big tops across the way, but there's no word yet on what will be housed there.
Last week, the Disney Vacation Club unveiled a new logo on the Disney Parks Blog. DVC says that the newly-reimagined logo "represents an ongoing commitment to helping families expand their vacation horizons and travel in ways they never dreamed possible." Noting that now "the Disney Vacation Club experience is about more than mountains, beaches and Disney Parks," DVC thought that the logo needed a new look. Commenters on the blog disagreed, however, with many stating that they did not like the look of the new logo, and that it did not say "vacation" to them. [Editor's note: We have been DVC members since 1995. When I showed the new logo to my wife and son, my wife stated that the new logo wasn't good because "they took the fun out." My 12-year-old son said that it didn't look like Disney Vacation Club, and that to him the new image said "MousePlanet." Note to the Disney Vacation Club: If you decide to go back to the old logo, can we use the new one?]
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to help us keep our listings updated!
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
- Magic Kingdom Main Street buildings – construction work.
- Magic Kingdom Uptown Jewelers – construction work.
- Magic Kingdom Main Street Fire Station – construction work.
- Magic Kingdom Veranda – construction work.
- Magic Kingdom Frontierland facades – rehab work.
- Magic Kingdom fireworks bunker – concrete repair.
- Epcot Japan pavilion courtyard – placement of two merchandise carts and one outdoor food & beverage check-in podium.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios left block building – plumbing work.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Animation building – construction work.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom – construction work.
- Transportation & Ticket Center – general construction.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace World of Disney – general construction equipment installation.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace World of Disney – construction work.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace Chase kiosk – awning.
- Downtown Disney West Side Disney Quest – construction work.
- Bay Lake – shoreline repairs.
- Wilderness Lodge – mechanical work on valve project.
- Fort Wilderness Campground & Resort loop pool area – carpentry work.
- Fort Wilderness Campground & Resort Pioneer Hall – mechanical work.
- Saratoga Springs Resort Paddock pool building – electrical work.
- Beach Club Resort entry walls – construction work.
- Animal Kingdom Lodge engineering office – construction work.
…Word started leaking out last week that Epcot Vice President Dan Cockerell and Disney's Hollywood Studios Vice President Rilous Carter will be swapping jobs. It will be interesting to see what each man brings to his new position. We wish them both the best of luck.
…Fantasmic at Disney's Hollywood Studios will return to a nightly schedule from July 2 through September 26. On September 27, the park closes at 7:00, eliminating the possibility of a Fantasmic show that night.
…The Tortuga Tavern in Magic Kingdom's Adventureland is now open seasonally for lunch until 3pm through the end of the summer.
…The Magic Kingdom's Main Street Fire House will close on July 10. While a construction permit states that there will be construction on the site, there is no indication whether the current gift shop inside will be replaced, and if so, with what.
…Lightning McQueen's debut at the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show has been delayed to some time "later this summer." The Cars 2-themed meet-and-greet location, to be called The Winner's Circle, has also been delayed while construction is completed. Both were originally scheduled to open on June 6.
…A new "Medal Ceremony" is reportedly being tested at Disney's Hollywood Studios on the Jedi Training Academy stage. Princess Leia presents medals to selected individuals on Monday, Friday, and Saturday through August 1. The medals have the Star Tours logo, the image of a StarSpeeder, "Disney's Hollywood Studios," and copyright notices on one side, and the Rebel Alliance logo, "Star Tours," and "Join the Rebellion" on the other. We have no confirmation yet on how guests are chosen for this show, but we've heard that some randomly-selected resort guests get participation certificates in their rooms, and that additional slots are given to kids who were too late to participate in the Jedi Training Academy. We'll let you know if we can confirm how this works.
…This year's display of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney's Hollywood Studios will run from November 10, 2011 through January 3, 2012.
…Construction work on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship is proceeding rapidly. With the main structural design being nearly identical to that of the Disney Dream, the team at Meyer-Werft Shipyards are making quick work of the construction. The Fantasy is currently scheduled to set sail on its official Maiden Voyage on March 31, 2012. Check out how quickly the ship is coming together:
…Acupuncture services have been rolled out to all three Disney Cruise Line ships in the Vista Spa & Salon and Senses Spa & Salon locations on a pilot basis through October. During the 4- month test period, Steiner's acupuncture services will offer full-service acupuncture treatments intended to create guest satisfaction and well-being. You can make an appointment for acupuncture services on on board the ship and the spa reception desk.
…If you'll be passing through Orlando International Airport this coming Saturday evening, June 25, you'll be able to catch a performance by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra in the Hyatt Regency atrium near the security check for gates 60-129. The concert begins at 8 p.m. The concert, themed to "The Blessings of Liberty," will feature patriotic classics, along with pieces by Sousa, Copland, and Bernstein. The event is free and open to the public.
…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 82 percent full, and the half marathon relay is 58 percent full. Kids races are 55 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 76 percent full!
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."
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Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.
Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.
- June 12 to July 31: Sounds Like Summer concert series.
- September 7-8: Nights of Joy.
- September 30, October 1: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. Registration now open.
- September 30 to November 13: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
- November 10, 2011 –January 3, 2012: Osborne Family Festival of Dancing Lights.
- November 11–13: Festival of the Masters.
- November 20–23: Childrens Miracle Network Hospitals Classic.
- November 24–25, 27: Old Spice Classic.
- January 5–8, 2012: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Registration now open.
- February 24-26, 2012: Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Registration opens July 5.
- Mickey's Toontown Fair – closed permanently to make way for Fantasyland expansion.
- Main Street Fire House – closes July 10.
- 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.
- Fronterland Shootin' Arcade – closed for refurbishment June 8-September 30.
- No known current refurbishments.
- Voyage of The Little Mermaid – closed for refurbishment August 13-September 3.
- Cars 2 meet-n-greet near MuppetVision 3-D – opens later this summer.
- Lightning McQueen replaces Herbie the Love Bug at Lights, Motors, Action! – begins later this summer.
- Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment through September 14, 2011.
- 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.
- Blizzard Beach – closes for annual refurbishment October 30.
- Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
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.
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 Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney's Wilderness Lodge, and $209 for Disney's 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 three-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.
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 percent-35 percent off for stays most nights from June 3 through August 13. Disney'sAnimal Kingdom Lodge and Disney's Polynesian Resort are excluded for all dates, and Disney's 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 bicoastal 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.