According to the report finally released by the National Transportation Safety Board on the July 5, 2009 monorail accident that claimed the life of monorail pilot Austen Wuennenberg, the probable cause of the accident was a failure on the part of a monorail shop panel operator to properly move the switch beam to reroute Monorail Pink from the Epcot loop to the Express loop, and a failure on the part of the monorail manager—who was acting as central coordinator from off-site after the coordinator on duty went home sick—to verify that the switch beam had moved before authorizing Monorail Pink to back up. Also contributing was the lack of a standard operating procedures, which led to an unsafe practice while operating monorails in reverse.
The shop panel operator was handling issues with three of the five monorails on the track at the time of the accident. In the middle of the track realignment process, he received a call from Monorail Silver about a door alert and stopped to log the call. Immediately following that, the switch operator received a call from Monorail Red asking for clearance to enter the monorail shop. By the time that the operator returned to the power distribution and monitor system, he had forgotten to check whether the switch had repositioned. If he had, he would have noticed that the switch track was not realigned.
According to the report, the accident caused $24 milion in damages, in addition to the loss of life.
The report also referenced the findings in an OSHA report, but noted that "[t]here are no provisions for OSHA to oversee the safety of the public unless it comes as a result of a safety enforcement action to improve safety for employees."
The NTSB noted that Walt Disney World Resort had undertaken a number of actions to minimize the possibility of this type of accident from occurring again. These actions include changing procedures related to driving monorails in reverse; changing procedures for operating switch tracks; upgrading from periodic-refresh, web-based monitoring cameras for watching the switch tracks to direct-feed video cameras, and changing monorail pilot training procedures.
Walt Disney World conducted a first test of meet-and-greets with a talking Mickey Mouse character during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Halloween night. The talking character had been tested in May 2010 at Disneyland Park, and was also on display at the D23 Expo in August.
Video of talking Mickey Mouse released on the Disney Parks Blog.
While this is just a test, it's likely that if it proves successful that a talking Mickey will become a regular feature at the Magic Kingdom in the near future.
Calling all with a spirit of adventure! Time is short!
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. Registration closes this Thursday, October 21!
Meet Walt Disney World Resort Update editor Mark Goldhaber and other MousePlanet readers and MouseStation podcast listeners on Sunday, November 13, from 4 p.m. through park closing for the Big Bad Voodoo Food-Do To-Do. The meet will kick off at the World Showcase side of the Odyssey Restaurant bridge, and Mark will provide location updates during the event via Twitter (@MPMark) and Facebook in case you want to join later on.
We'll wander the last day of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, sample cuisines from around the world, and pause to watch each of the three performances by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (one of Mark's favorite groups) at 5:15, 6:30, and 7:45 p.m. on the final day of the Eat to the Beat concert series. After the last performance, we'll get one last snack, secure some international desserts, and then find a place to enjoy the evening's performance of Illuminations.
You can RSVP on Plancast, or by email. You can also just show up, but if Mark can snag some swag from the MouseAdventure goodie bag, he'll want to have enough for you! We'll select a starting point for our adventure in another month or so, so watch the Plancast plan or this page for that information. You can also follow @MPMark on Twitter for updates on November 13 if you want to join the group later on in the day.
Walt Disney World has announced the schedule of fireworks at the parks for New Year's Eve. Let's take a look around the property:
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Click on the "Dining" section from our Walt Disney World Guide to see our complete list of of the park restaurant menus from Walt Disney World. Please help us keep the menus up to date! Send photos or scans of park menus to email@example.com to help us keep our listings updated.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…The body of a 56-year-old cast member was found by a security officer in a backstage parking lot early last Tuesday morning. The security officer placed a call to 911 at around 1 a.m. The lot is located in a service area north of Vista Boulevard near Live Oak Lane, between Bonnet Creek Parkway and Buena Vista Drive. The Orange County Sheriff's Office stated that the death was not considered to be a homicide.
…The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh will not offer Fastpasses and will use its Fastpass queue as its regular queue during a refurbishment of the main interactive queue from November 2 to 9.
…Walt Disney World Resort placed 4 resorts on the Conde Nast Traveler 2011 Readers' Choice Awards for Top 150 U.S. Mainland Resorts. Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Wilderness Lodge, Animal Kingdom Lodge, and BoardWalk Inn were cited. Check out the full list of recognized resorts on the Conde Nast website.
…The Richard Petty Driving Experience will be getting company at the Walt Disney World Speedway in January. Petty Holding LLC, which operates the Driving Experience, is branching out with Project Exotic, an opportunity to drive "some of the world's fastest and most exotic supercars." The experience has yet to be officially named; you can weigh in on the name for the attraction in a survey on their website.
…The 2012 version of the Expedition Everest Challenge (a 5K event that also involves an obstacle course and scavenger hunt) takes place on May 5, 2012. No registration date has yet been announced.
…Registration is open for events for the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon (scheduled for the weekend of February 24 to 26, 2012). The Princess Half Marathon is 59 percent full and Kids' Races are 53 percent full.
…Registration is open for events for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012 (on the weekend of January 5 to 8, 2012). As of this week, registration is at:
Crowd information and forecasts are provided by TouringPlans.com, the website 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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A new room-only discount for fall 2011 has been released. These discounts are available for travel most nights from October 30 through December 23 (except for Thanksgiving week):
You must book this discount by November 19. The rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.
A room-only discount was released for early next year. The discounts are available for travel from January 2 through February 20, 2012. Guests receive discount rates of:
You must book this discount by December 21. The rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.
You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-1917 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code UU7. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
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 website.
From now through September 28, 2012, 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 September 30, 2012. Blackout dates are December 26-31, 2011; April 1-12, 2012; and July 4, 2012.
Eligible service members include active or retired members of the U.S. military including the U.S. Coast Guard, National Guard, and Reservists. Disney Military Promotional Tickets can be purchased at Shades of Green or at a participating military base (MWR/ITT) office. There is no tax charged for these tickets but they must be activated at a theme park ticket window. Tickets may also be purchased at Walt Disney World Park Ticket Offices and Guest Relations Offices where tax will be charged. No more than six tickets may be purchased by any eligible member of the U.S. military (or their spouse, but not both) for themselves, family members, and friends, and all tickets must be purchased at the same time. If the immediate family has more than five dependents, additional tickets may be purchased for the dependents, however, additional tickets for guests may not be purchased. Valid military identification is required. The tickets are non-transferable and may not be resold.
The tickets may be upgraded to Seasonal Passes or Florida Resident Weekday Select Passes (for Florida Residents), or Annual Passes, Premium Annual Passes, or Disney Premier Pass with credit toward the upgrade based on the actual price paid. The no-expiration option and other upgrades, such as additional days, are not available.
For complete information regarding Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets, military personnel may call 407-939-7830 or participating U.S. military base ticket offices.
(Send an email to Mark Goldhaber)
Mark (@MPMark) is a veteran of dozens of trips to Walt Disney World starting in 1972, with a few Disneyland trips thrown in for good measure. As a Disney stockholder and a Disney Vacation Club member, Mark is always in touch with what's going on with The Mouse. Mark serves as MousePlanet's Walt Disney World content coordinator. Mark is a senior information technology manager working for the State of New York. He lives in the suburbs outside Albany, New York, with his wife and son.