Is the Disney Wonder pulling up stakes out west and returning to the East Coast? Back in December, we noted that Disney Cruise Line canceled four December 2012 sailings, leaving its final scheduled cruise from the Port of Los Angeles departing December 2 and returning December 9. With stories about drug cartel violence dampening public enthusiasm for Mexican Riviera cruises, several reports are now indicating that the Wonder may be returning to the East Coast, to a new port.
Disney Cruise Line has a press conference scheduled in Miami this Wednesday to talk about "fleet expansion and new itineraries," as well as "big news for what's in store in 2013." The South Florida Business Journal is reporting that "Cruise Guy" Stewart Chiron has indicated that several Caribbean ports have already been approached about booking an unnamed Disney ship starting in December.
With the Disney Fantasy and Disney Dream occupying the Disney Cruise Line terminal in Port Canaveral on weekends, a second location would provide the ability for seven-night cruises to depart on the weekend. Miami International Airport would provide a greater ability to bring international travelers to Port Miami than the Fort Lauderdale airport near Port Everglades, and Port Miami is the world's busiest cruise port.
If the Wonder heads east, look for a Panama Canal cruise departing on December 9, 2012, arriving just before Christmas, with the first sailing from Miami being a one-week Christmas cruise. After a winter in Miami, there is speculation that the Wonder could either return throught the Panama Canal to the West Coast for a summer of Alaska sailings or head across the Atlantic for another season in Europe. The Wonder first headed West in January 2011 to clear the way for the arrival of the Disney Dream.
The Dream is currently sailing 3- and 4-night Bahamian itineraries from Port Canaveral, and the Disney Magic is sailing 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from the same port. The Disney Fantasy will sail its maiden voyage on March 31 from Port Canaveral, and will take over the Magic's 7-night schedule. The Magic will then head to New York City in May for a summer of sailing 8-night Bahamian cruises, 5-night Canadian Maritime voyages, and 2-night "cruises to nowhere." In the fall, the Magic will head to Galveston and sail 7-night Caribbean cruises.
The 83,000-ton Magic and Wonder are the original two ships of the Disney Cruise Line and carry approximately 2,700 passengers. The 130,000-ton Dream and Fantasy can accommodate approximately 4,000 passengers.
Now that the Disney Fantasy is out of drydock, work is proceeding quickly on finishing out the interior areas of the ship. The Disney Parks Blog has released several new photos of the work currently underway. Word is now surfacing that it appears that the ship will be christened during its stay in New York City February 28 through March 2. We're hearing that the ceremony will take place in the evening of March 1, and the ship will set sail for Port Canaveral the next day.
The ship will be berthed at Pier 88, at West 48th Street, where the Disney Magic will dock during its visits to New York from May through September this year. The Fantasy will be the first Disney ship not to be christened at Port Canaveral.
Do you want to win an 8-night cruise on the Disney Magic to the Bahamas, with stops at Castaway Cay and Port Canaveral (with a side day-trip to Walt Disney World)? The Disney Cruise Line will be giving one such cruise away. You can enter the Magical Cruise Adventure Sweepstakes online or on a special mobile site. The winner and three guests receive round trip transportation, a stateroom aboard the Disney Magic, as well as all government taxes and fees. The winner may also win a variety of cruise upgrades by playing a game on the websites.
The Grand Prize Winner must book travel at least 45 days prior to the intended travel dates and must be taken on one of the following three departure dates: June 2, July 20, or August 25, 2012. Available upgrades from playing the game include: dinner for two at Palo, champagne brunch for two at Palo, a private tour of the galley, spa treatments, salon visits, merchandise packages, port adventures, onboard credits, and more.
You can enter the contest once each day from now through April 2.
Get a peek at the accommodations at the upcoming Disney's Art of Animation Resort, including decor for all four themes.
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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.
The Walt Disney World Moms Panel has welcomed its Class of 2012, 15 new panelists that may force the group to change its name. With specialists on the Disney Vacation Club, Adventures by Disney, and the two new additions of runDisney and Disneyland, watch for the panel to broaden its name, perhaps to the Disney Moms Panel. The panel also features Spanish language specialists, so Spanish-speaking guests can now ask questions in their native tongue.
The fifth new group of panelists join a host of returning members at the Disney World Moms Panel Website to answer Disney vacation questions from all interested guests.
Welcome to the new panelists:
The Exotic Driving Experience is now open at the Walt Disney World Resort Speedway. Starting today, you can get a chance to drive a exotic super car around a modified track (with an instructor in the passenger seat). Drivers get six laps around a course that uses part of the standard speedway, combined with an obstacle course that cuts across the track's infield for between $199 and $389, depending on the car chosen. A two-lap ride-along experience is also available to guests age 14 and up for $99.
So far, there are five models available, with their introductory driving price (the larger number indicates their manufacturer's suggested retail price):
More vehicles are slated to arrive in the future. Participants also charged a $35 driver release fee. Photos, apparel, and in-car videos are also available as souvenirs.
You can make your reservation on the Exotic Driving Experience Website or by phone toll free at (855) 822-0149.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…From January 20 through February 10, the time period that the Main Street Electrical Parade is not running, the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade runs an abbreviated route due to concrete work in Frontierland near the parade gate. The afternoon parade starts at the parade gate near the Main Street Fire House, circle Town Square, travel to the Hub, and return down Main Street U.S.A. to exit where it entered. Due to the amount of space in the Hub for the parade to circle back the other way, the parade itself will be shortened so as not to run into itself.
…Our friends at TouringPlans.com are noting that Disney's Hollywood Studios is testing a new park opening procedure this week. Although the official park hours will show a 9 a.m. opening time, the gates will actually open at 8:30. At that time, Toy Story Mania, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster, and Tower of Terror will be open. Sign-ups for Jedi Training Academy and Fastpass distribution at all attractions also begins at 8:30. All other attractions will keep guests outside until 8:45. To get a jump on the crowds who may not know about this procedure, make sure you're at the park a half-hour earlier than you planned this week.
…Peter Pan's Flight will remain open while work takes place on a new interactive queue from January 16 through March 6. This is in conjunction with work to add a new restroom and an additional path from Fantasyland to Liberty Square that will likely require the removal or relocation of the pet cemetery near the exit from the Haunted Mansion.
…The Splitsville bowling center at Downtown Disney, opening this fall, will offer hand-tossed pizzas, fresh sushi, and more on its menu.
…Gusto Wine Bar will open at Epcot's Italy pavilion later this year.
…A water management permit has been approved for a Walgreens store to be located at the Flamingo Crossing development at the western edge of the Walt Disney World property.
…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 89 percent full, the Royal Famly 5K is 66 percent full, and the Royal Family Kids' Races are 78 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).
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.
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.