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Update for July 4 – July 10, 2011

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

News and Views

Passholder discounts released for late summer/early fall | Disney Moms Panel 2012 applications open in September | 2012 Disney's Dreamers Academy nominations open | Woman sues Disney over boating accident | Four Seasons Resort pushed back to 2014 | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Passholder discounts released for late summer/early fall

Walt Disney World has announced a new set of passholder discounts for stays from mid-August through the start of October. The discounts provide 20 to 35 percent off for stays most nights from August 14 to October 1. As with the summer deal, Passholders will save 35 percent at Deluxe Villa resorts, 30 percent at Deluxe resorts, and 20 percent at Moderate and Value resorts.


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Passholders can book through the day before arrival, but be aware that rooms may go fast, as 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) 939-7643, or your travel agent and using booking code Y3H. MousePlanet's preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.

Disney Moms Panel 2012 applications open in September

That time of year is coming again, just two-and-a-half months away. Walt Disney World has announced the application period for the 2012 Disney World Moms Panel. If you've been wanting to join the Moms Panel, you'll be able to submit your entry between 9 a.m. ET on September 12 and just before midnight on the night of September 16.

The panel will be looking for specialists of all types, with focuses on Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures By Disney, Disney Vacation Club, and runDisney.

If you're interested, you'll need to meet several criteria, including being age 18 or older, having access to a computer and an Internet connection, being fluent in English, and being familiar with Walt Disney World and having been there at least once in the last 12 months. You must make several commitments, as well. You must participate for a minimum of 24 months, complete at least 25 written responses per week, provide opinions and feedback, and travel to Walt Disney World for orientation December 9-13, 2011.

You can't be employed by or be an immediate family member of an employee of the Walt Disney Company or any of its subsidiaries. You also can't be be employed in or be an immediate family member of an employee in the travel or theme park industries.

There will be more information coming between now and September 12, but you can start straightening up your resume now and thinking about the Disney stories that you want to tell.

Calling all with a spirit of adventure!

Are you ready for MouseAdventure: World Explorers III? The third iteration of the scavenger hunt/puzzle quest/race through Walt Disney World's parks takes place on Saturday, November 12 at Disney's Hollywood Studios (the game has been going on at the parks of the Disneyland Resort for more than 10 years now). Do you think that you know Disney's Hollywood Studios? We bet you don't know them as well as you think you do. Test your wits against those of our puzzle masters. For more information, check out the MouseAdventure information page and sign up now.

2012 Disney's Dreamers Academy nominations open

Nominations are now open for the fifth class of Disney's Dreamers Academy. The 2012 edition of the program, presented in conjunction with Steve Harvey and Essence magazine, will again provide the opportunity for 100 students to attend the educational and mentoring program at Walt Disney World, which will be held March 8 through 11, 2012.

The Dreamers and a parent or guardian will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World for the program, where celebrities and motivational speakers will inspire the students to achieve even greater goals and to "dream big." Workshops will provide the opportunity to get hands-on experience in a variety of careers, from arts and sciences to athletics and culinary.

"Disney's Dreamers Academy gives hope and inspiration and exposes youth to a world of possibilities," said Harvey. "The fifth year of this program will prove to be the best yet. We are excited about another opportunity to transform lives and give students an inside look at what their future can hold."

Students can be nominated through October 31 by parents, teachers, mentors, and even themselves. Nominations must be made online at the Disney Dreamers Academy website. You can also get more information on Facebook or by following @dreamersacademy on Twitter.

Woman sues Disney over boating accident

A woman injured in a boating accident last April is suing Walt Disney World for negligence. Barbara Wormald, 61 at the time, was treated for back pain, a collapsed lung, and fractured ribs after her husband, Michael Wormald, steered their rented Sea Raycer into a ferry near the Treehouse Villas. Mrs. Wormald claims in her lawsuit that Disney was negligent in allowing her husband to rent the boat because he had no experience driving that type of boat, and was not given any instruction, so he should not have been allowed to rent and use it. The boat was rented at Cap'n Jack's Marina at Downtown Disney Marketplace. The couple, from Skipton, England, have a vacation home in Osceola County.

Given Disney's rental procedures and the fact that many—if not most—of their renters do not have experience with that type of boat, it seems unlikely that the Wormalds will win their lawsuit.

Four Seasons Resort pushed back to 2014

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the Four Seasons Hotel that was to be an anchor of the new northeast resort parcel under development will not open until 2014. The resort was originally announced in March 2007, but no work has been done to date on the Four Seasons part of the project.

The Golden Oak Resort—a residential development adjacent to the Four Seasons property—is under construction, with the first 80 lots available for sale. Those homes sale prices start at $1.4 million. The Sentinel reports that an announcement on the groundbreaking timetable for the hotel is likely this fall.

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 Astro Orbiter – construction work.
  • Epcot Norway pavilion – installation of 200 amp electrical service.
  • Blizzard Beach Downhill Double Dipper finish line area – carpentry, irrigation, and metal work.
  • Downtown Disney Marketplace Pollo Campero/Fresh-A-Peel – installation of freestanding menu signs and wall sign.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – room refurbishments (first- and second-floor wall covering replacements).
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge pool pump room – electrical work.
  • Yacht Club Resort guest laundry – general contracting.
  • Port Orleans Riverside Resort Magnolia Bend – construction work.

Quick takes …

…Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger and Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs have been spotted in the parks in the last week. That often means that new development is under consideration or even active development (though it doesn't guarantee anything). With major construction under way at Magic Kingdom Park, Disney California Adventure Park, Hong Kong Disneyland, and a whole new park in Shanghai, not to mention the Disney Fantasy due for completion next year, it seems odd that Disney would be jumping right back into major development work, but with Universal Orlando hot on its heels with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and more development on the way, perhaps Disney feels that it can no longer sit on its laurels and that it must go back to the era of constant development. That could only mean good things for Disney fans and frequent visitors.

…Disney Cruise Line has extended a "Kids Sail Free" offer to the Mexican Riviera by a week. The new sail date range is October 23 to December 18, 2011. Kids age 17 and under can sail free when traveling with two full-fare guests in the same verandah stateroom in categories 4A-6A. Government taxes and fees are not included. You can book online, by calling Disney Cruise Line at 800-951-3532, or by contacting your travel agent, and mention booking code KFO. Thanks to Sue Pisaturo of MousePlanet sponsor Small World Vacations for tipping us off.

…We're hearing that some character meet-and-greet opportunities may be going away at the Magic Kingdom Park. According to the report, Fantasyland characters will cease appearances during evening Extra Magic Hours, and the Town Square Theater location will be closed for both morning and evening Extra Magic Hours following this week's peak crowds.

…Red light cameras have been installed at traffic lights across property. The cameras are similar to those that have been installed around Orlando and Orange County. Notable locations are at many lights along Buena Vista Drive. Please be careful driving, and remember that no time is a good time to run a red light.

…Passholders will get an extra-special shopping opportunity on July 23, as the "Sizzling Summer Sale" comes to the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney Marketplace. In addition to regular passholder savings, select merchandise will be available at 75 percent off. There will also be special "door busters," surprise markdowns, and other surprises. The World of Disney will open its doors at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 23, for Passholders only. The sale runs until 9 a.m. For more information, check out the Passholder website.

…Orlando Harley-Davidson opened their new location at Downtown Disney's West Side on Friday. The new 3,635-square-foot store replaces the former location on Pleasure Island. That Pleasure Island location will be filled by Apricot Lane which sells apparel, accessories, handbags, gifts, etc.

…Disney Parks has launched a new attraction-specific site to promote the newly-reopened Star Tours at both Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland Park. The Star Tours site includes videos featuring Bree Starlighter (host of the Star Tours mall tour and the opening-day festivities), who will provide a look at some of the StarSpeeder 1000's various destinations. Fans of the Adventurers Club may also recognize Bree as a former Club regular. Some of the videos are hidden, so you'll get to spend extra time hunting around the mini-site if you want to see them all. There's also behind-the-scenes footage, as well as crafts and more from DisneyFamily.com. Here's an introductory video to the mini-site:

…An interesting take on Disney pirates is coming late this summer. Not to the theme parks, though, and not to the resort marinas. "A Pirate's Adventure" is a new offering from Disney Floral and Gifts. The adventure's story is that Captain Jack Sparrow hid in your room while being chased by a band of pirates and hid his treasure somewhere in there. According to the pirate code, the treasure is yours if you can find the key and unlock it. Sparrow has left riddles for you to solve to find the key. There will be more information about this new adventure later this summer.

…The Grand Floridian Villas project will apparently require additional land, as the amount of Seven Seas Lagoon to be filled in as part of the project has increased by 1/6 acre.

…Walt Disney World has submitted a permit application that is in initial review to move a fence and install a new six-foot by six-foot fireworks bunker for the Magic Kingdom.

…Registration for the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon opens Tuesday, July 5, at noon EDT on the Wide World of Sports site.

…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 90 percent full, and the half marathon relay is 65 percent full. Kids races are 68 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 80 percent full. The Marathon and Half Marathon are each 50 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."

 

Expect high crowd levels all week long as we exit the July 4th weekend. Due to these increased crowds, now is a great time to subscribe to TouringPlans to let us help you avoid the crowds!

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, July 4, 2011 10 out of 10
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 10 out of 10
Wednesday, July 6, 2011 10 out of 10
Thursday, July 7, 2011 8 out of 10

As indicated at the outset, crowds will be very high this week as vacationers descend upon Walt Disney World Resort for the remainder of the Independence Day holiday. 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 never our Park to Avoid this week.
  • The Magic Kingdom is the Best Park Friday through Sunday.
  • Expect extremely heavy crowds in the Studios this week.

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

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Coming up


Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Mickey's Toontown Fair – closed permanently to make way for Fantasyland expansion.
  • 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 to September 30.
  • Swiss Family Treehouse – closed for refurbishment September 8 to November 17.

Epcot

  • No known current refurbishments.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Voyage of The Little Mermaid – closed for refurbishment August 13 to September 3.
  • Lightning McQueen replaces Herbie the Love Bug at Lights, Motors, Action! – begins later this summer.

Animal Kingdom

  • Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment through September 14.
  • It's Tough to be a Bug! – closed for refurbishment August 15 to September 30.

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 – closed for annual refurbishment October 30-December 3.
  • Typhoon Lagoon – closes for annual refurbishment December 4.

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 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 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 for summer

Walt Disney World has announced a new set of passholder discounts for stays through mid-August. The discounts provide 20  to 35 percent off for stays most nights through August 13. Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge and Disney's Polynesian Resort are excluded for all date. 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.


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.