As noted last week, Walt Disney World has signed a new agreement with General Motors that extends their founding sponsorship of the Test Track (originally World of Motion) pavilion at Epcot. As part of the agreement, GM's Chevrolet brand is appearing as the sponsor name instead of all brands under the GM umbrella. The attraction also undergoes a "re-imagining," adding a Chevrolet Design Center before the ride portion of the attraction.
At the Design Center, guests can create their own concept car design. They then move to the ride portion, where they test their design in a "SimCar" vehicle. The post-show area then lets them see how well their design fared in the tests. The pre-show Design Center is to feature a collection of Chevy concept cars, with current production models in the showroom.
The sponsorship has been in doubt for some time. While the site has been a positive promotional outlet for GM, there was uncertainty as to whether they would be able to justify the cost of renewal in light of the automaker's bankruptcy filing. After a year of solid growth, however, it appears that there is again money to cover the substantial cost of sponsoring the pavilion. There is no current word on the financial terms of this agreement, but it has been reported that the last 10-year extension cost GM $100 million. The contract had been extended in short-term intervals while GM regained its financial footing.
The attraction closes in April and is expected to re-open this fall.
The Disney Fantasy cruise ship hit the water for the first time yesterday, as the newest ship in Disney Cruise Line's fleet left its construction drydock at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Paperburg, Germany. The ship was floated out at around noon local time (7 a.m. ET), and immediately towed to an adjacent dock for further work. Installation of the ship's bridge and communications mast took place shortly after docking.
The ship had originally been scheduled for a Saturday float-out, but weather delayed those plans. Following some tests in the Papenburg harbor, the ship will be conveyed along the river Ems to Bremerhaven in a couple of weeks, at which point it is prepared for sea trials. Official delivery of the Fantasy to Disney is expected on February 9. The ship is crossing the Atlantic Ocean and apparently heads to the Port of New York, where it will dock at Manhattan's Pier 88 from February 28 through March 2, according to documents uncovered by StitchKingdom.com.
The ship is scheduled to depart on its official maiden voyage on March 31 from Port Canaveral, but its christening voyage has yet to be announced. Much speculation is that it will either be for the ship's conveyance from New York to Port Canaveral or its first sailing from Port Canaveral. The christening voyage of the Fantasy's sister ship, the Disney Dream, took place on a two-day sailing from Port Canaveral one week prior to the maiden voyage, so there's plenty of time between March 2 and March 31 for the Fantasy's christening to take place.
Work continues on the children's pool (middle) and family pool (bottom) before the Disney Fantasy leaves drydock. Note that the clear Aqua Duck water coaster tube is still protected by opaque plastic. Photo © Disney.
Once the Fantasy arrives at Port Canaveral, it begins sailing 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean voyages. The Disney Magic, which has been sailing those itineraries,continues to sail out of Port Canaveral for a short while before heading to New York for a summer of sailings to the Canadian Maritimes, the Bahamas, and 2-night "cruises to nowhere." The Dream continues its 3- and 4-night Bahamian itineraries, and the Disney Wonder remains on the West Coast, sailing mostly Alaskan and Mexican Riviera cruises, plus two Hawaiian voyages and some Pacific Coast cruises.
Some footage of the float-out is available from the NDR (Northern Germany Radio) website, with commentary and interviews in German.
Yesterday was the last day to ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant behind Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. The attraction is closed today and will be removed for refurbishment.
A second Dumbo spinner has already been installed in the Storybook Circus area of New Fantasyland (what was previously Mickey's Toontown Fair), and has been undergoing early testing. The new spinner, which is the first Dumbo attraction to spin clockwise, is currently scheduled to open on February 18. The Great Goofini (the rethemed former Barnstormer at Goofy's Wise Acre Farm) is expected to open in roughly the same time frame.
When the original Dumbo ride has completed its refurbishment, it will be installed adjacent to the new spinner to create a "double Dumbo" attraction with a single interactive queue in between the two rides. The rides will have Dumbo flying over a water base, similar to the attraction at Disneyland Park.
At this time, there is no word of soft openings, which would depend on how early the new attraction will be ready. Much of the remainder of New Fantasyland is expected to open over the next year.
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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.
Florida residents can take advantage of a special 3- or 4- day ticket at discounted prices through late May. The "Wild for 3" (and "Wild for 4") tickets are available for purchase through May 21, and are valid for admission any three (or four) days through May 24, excluding blackout dates. The tickets are not valid February 18-20 and April 1-13 due to high crowd levels.
The Wild for 3 Pass ($99 plus tax) and Wild for 4 ($129 plus tax) passes are good at any one of the four Walt Disney World theme parks each day, but without park hopping privileges. Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More options can be added for $27.50 each ($55 for both).
Proof of Florida residency is required for each adult age 18 and older. The discounted price applies to both adults and children.
Automotive designer Chip Foose joins Imagineers Ryan Parrish and Bill Hanus on prepping the Ramone icon for the Cars-themed section of Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom was open for guest testing yesterday. There is expected to be additional testing this week, but it will likely not be every day (there will be no testing today). The game materials are distributed at the Main Street Fire Station, and the game has been tested in Adventureland, Frontierland/Liberty Square, and Fantasyland.
Reportedly, each land has its own selection of villains that you may face. Adventureland games feature either Yzma (from The Emperor's New Groove), Scar (from The Lion King), or Jafar (from Aladdin). Players in Liberty Square and Frontierland will face Dr. Facilier (from The Princess and the Frog) or Governor Ratcliffe (from Pocahontas). Fantasyland players square off with Maleficent (from Sleeping Beauty), Hades (from Hercules), or Ursula (from The Little Mermaid). There may be more villains available, especially when Tomorrowland and Main Street, U.S.A. are added.
After testing, guests are being asked to return to the Fire Station to provide feedback to the game creators to help in the testing. The game is reportedly being targeted for a February launch, and there are apparently many functions of the game that are not being tested yet. If you get a chance to test the game, let us know what you think!
Thanks to @DisneyProjects and @InsidetheMagic for tweeting their gameplay yesterday.
A new Brazilian dynasty may be ending the previous Brazilian reign at the Walt Disney World Marathon. Seven-time winner Adriano Bastos, of Sao Paulo, who placed 15th last year while suffering from a stomach ailment, lost a start-to-finish battle with countryman Fredison Costa, of Votorantim, who won his second consecutive Disney race, held yesterday.
Costa beat his time from last year by two minutes and 14 seconds, finishing the 26.2-mile course in 2:19:01. Bastos, who had won six consecutive Walt Disney World Marathons until last year, finished 14 seconds behind Costa. The two men ran together for nearly the entire race, with Costa pulling ahead with just two miles left and holding off Bastos to the finish. Matt Hensley of Port St. Lucie, Florida (2:23:12), and Ben Payne of Fort Walton Beach, Florida (2:25:30) finished next behind the leaders.
The winner of the women's division was Renee High of Virginia Beach, Virginia. High, who finished in 2:48:33, beat Emily Kroshus of Boston (2:53:11), and Christa Stephens of St. Petersburg, Florida (2:55:10), to the finish line.
In the end of another dynasty, for the first time since 2007, the men's Half Marathon was not won by a member of the Hansen-Brooks distance running team from Rochester Hills, Michigan (and the first time since 2006 that the team won neither the men's nor women's division). In fact, the Hansen-Brooks team didn't figure in the top 5 on the men's side. Jose de Morais of Sao Paulo, Brazil, made it a men's sweep for the South American country by winning the Half in 1:10:12 on Saturday, edging out Mauricio Mendez of Mexico City, Mexico (1:11:03), and Johnathan LeJeune of Katy, Texas (1:11:39). The women's Half Marathon was won by Rosa Chacha of Quito, Ecuador, in 1:16:43, beating out Hansen-Brooks runner Jenny Scherer or Rochester Hills, Michigan (1:20:09), and Julie Northrup of Vero Beach, Florida (1:21:45).
The winning team in the first-ever Marathon Relay was Rick Cahoon and Brian Tomanek, who each ran 13.1 miles in this two-leg race for a combined time of 2:42:19 as team "Miyagi & Danielson." They finished about eight minutes ahead of "Operation Acorn Time" (Vaughn Rightley and Timothy Fears), "Sasquatch Cougars" (Jeff Mohler and Aaron McRill), and "Team Ironman Time" (George and Patrick Bene), who all finished within 32 seconds of each other.
Runners from all 50 states and 61 countries ran in the weekend's Marathon, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay, 5K, and Kids races. Over 6,500 tried the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge, with 5,854 of them finishing both the Half Marathon on Saturday and the full Marathon on Sunday. Congratulations to everyone who ran over the weekend (including some very tired and sore MousePlanet staffers)!
Registration for the 2013 Disney Marathon Weekend (including the 20th anniversary Marathon) opens later this spring. More information will be available in the coming weeks.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…We're hearing reports that the paintbrushes have disappeared from Tom Sawyer Island. No word on whether it is a permanent or temporary cessation in whitewashing that fence.
…Djuan Rivers, vice president and general manager of Disney's Aulani resort in Hawaii, is apparently moving from the Pacific to the other side of the planet. According to the Pacific Business News, Rivers, who was with the resort since the beginning, is heading to Europe to become vice president of hotels and business solutions at Disneyland Paris Resort. Replacing Rivers is Elliott Mills, Aulani's managing director, who worked as a general manager at other Hawaiian resorts.
…Registration for the May 5 the Expedition Everest Challenge is now open.
…Registration for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler opens February 14.
…Registration is open for events for the 2012 Disney Princess Half Marathon (scheduled for the weekend of February 24 to 26). The Princess Half Marathon is 82 percent full, the Royal Famly 5K is 56 percent full, and the Royal Family Kids' Races are 73 percent full. The Pasta in the Park Party is sold out.
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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In connection with the "One More Disney Day" promotion for leap day, Disney has released a "One More Disney Day and Night – Free" discount for stays from February 26 through March 10. If you book a non-discounted Magic Your Way package of at least three nights with an arrival date most nights February 26 through March 10, you receive an additional night for free. the offer can only be applied once per package or reservation, and excludes suites.
You must book this discount by January 31. The rooms available at these rates are limited, and no other group rates or discounts apply.
You can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-1920 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code J6R. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Disney has released a Passholder discount for most nights from through March 8. Discounts are 35 percent for select Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa accommodations, and 30 percent for Value resorts from Sunday through Thursday nights.
As with most Passholder discounts, you can book this discount up through your arrival date, if discounted rooms are not yet sold out by then. The rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length-of-stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. No group rates or other discounts apply. Suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas are not included.
You can make your reservation through the Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-7731 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code H5L. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Disney has released a room-only discount for all nights from February 21 through June 14, with the exception of the Easter peak from April 1 to 12. Discounts vary based on date. However, many resorts are excluded from the discount, including All-Star Movies Resort, Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, Contemporary Resort, Beach Club Villas, Wilderness Lodge Villas, and premium views at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
For stays on the nights of March 9 to 31 and May 25 to 27, guests receive discount rates of:
For all other nights during the discount period, the discounts are:
You must book this discount by January 22 for arrival dates through March 31 and February 28 for dates through June 14. 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 N6P. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
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 April 1 to 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 twelve Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets may be purchased, activated and/or used by any Eligible Service Member or spouse during the life of this promotion, and no Eligible Service Member or spouse may purchase, activate and/or use more than six Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets during any single week of the promotion. One of the Disney 4-Day Military Promotional Tickets purchased on each occasion must be for use by the Eligible Service Member or spouse. This offer is for active or retired members of the U.S. military, including the National Guard, Reservists and the U.S. Coast Guard. 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, visit the Walt Disney World website, 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.