The new Habit Heroes attraction at Epcot's Innoventions closed suddenly Saturday morning, just three weeks after it opened. An associated website has been shuttered, as well. The exhibit, which purportedly was to teach families how to be healthier, was sponsored by Florida Blue and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.
The exhibit has come under fire from two fronts. One point was that the attraction itself was substandard and that it did not provide any real entertainment. The other, which exploded this week, was that the tactics used in the attraction were counter-productive and in fact would harm those that it purported to help.
A story by Misty Harris of PostMedia News appeared in major newspapers throughout Canada and their websites, quoting several experts on childhood obesity, who unanimously condemned the exhibit. There was no indication of whether there were health professionals who disagreed with those quoted.
One of those cited was Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa and family medicine chair of the Canadian Obesity Network. "It's so dumbfounding it's unreal," Dr. Freedhoff was quoted as saying. "I just can't believe somebody out there thought it was a good idea to pick up where the school bullies left off and shame kids on their vacation.… There's no doubt in my mind that overweight and obese kids going through this exhibit are leaving feeling horrible about themselves."
Writer/dancer/activist Ragen Chastain wrote on her "Dances with Fat" blog: "…I’m crying because I know how excited kids get about Disney. Disney is supposed to be the happiest place on Earth and now fat kids – who are subjected to a barrage of shaming, humiliating, stigmatizing, and bullying messages from society on a daily basis – will go on vacation and find out that people who look like them are villains who other kids fight for points and bragging rights. Why doesn’t Disney just hold fat kids down and let park guests kick them?"
A major point in this is that kids who are fat suffer from plenty of self-esteem issues already. In fact, many become fat by assuaging existing self-esteem issues by eating. Will telling them that their snacking is evil make them feel better and more likely to eat healthily, or will it just lead them to diving further into the low-nutrition comfort food?
There's no word yet on if or when Habit Heroes will reopen.
An editorial comment here: As a "Pooh-sized" person myself, I really was uncomfortable with this exhibit based upon many of the photos and videos that were posted. "Working together, you have the power to defeat him," hero Callie Stenics says about "Lead Bottom." "Because he can't resist the power of positive peer pressure," continues hero Will Power. Is positive peer pressure the solution to all physiological problems? I don't think so.
"Habit Heroes" is a classic example of how many people think that quick-fix solutions are the only way to address problems, and that nothing is too difficult or complex to be resolved this way—and that not changing to meet societal norms makes you a "villain." I'll tell you right now that making me feel bad is not going to make me want to do what you want me to. I much preferred the approach of the late, lamented Wonders of Life pavilion, which instead took the approach of making the taking of the first steps more fun and enjoyable. The "Habit Heroes" approach of pitting the "healthy" skinny kids against the "evil" fat kids will only make things worse.
It can only be hoped that the problems with Habit Heroes and the content of the exhibit will be rectified if Disney does reopen the exhibit. Perhaps a better solution would be to instead reopen the Wonders of Life as it existed before its closure. Who wouldn't like to ride a "Wonder Cycle" through Disneyland again, or take a few swings in the batting cage? Watching Buzzy manipulate an adolescent through a stressful day and riding Body Wars' miniaturized vehicle through a human body provided a much better approach to understanding health and perhaps inspiring better choices than the bludgeoning provided by Habit Heroes. Let's see what Disney comes up with. They've got the talent and the ability to do this right. Let's hope that they do.
What do you think? Post your opinions in the comments below.
While the Walt Disney World website still lists Dumbo the Flying Elephant as returning to operation on May 12, Jennifer Fickley-Baker posted on the Disney Parks Blog last Thursday that the first elements of Storybook Circus will open "by late March." We have not yet been able to reconcile these two dates, but we will apparently see the first of the Dumbo spinners (the new clockwise-spinning one, as the old counterclockwise one is still being refurbished), the rethemed Great Goofini roller coaster, the new Fantasyland train station, and perhaps the Casey Jr. Splash Zone some time between mid- and late-March. As it was noted in an interview with Imagineer Chris Beatty on the MouseStation podcast, dates are always in flux because you never know what's going to happen on any given construction project.
In the same post by Fickley-Baker, a closure date was finally released for Snow White's Scary Adventures. If you want to see the attraction, you'll need to see it by May 31, as that will be its last day. The attraction will be gutted to make way for Princess Fairy Tale Hall, a highly-themed meet-and-greet for the Disney princesses.
Snow White's Adventures opened with the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971. Guests were confused when they did not see Snow White within the attraction, not understanding that they were supposed to be Snow White. On December 16, 1994, the attraction reopened as Snow White's Scary Adventures following major renovations that put the title character into the attraction in multiple places.
Princess Fairy Tale Hall was not an original part of the New Fantasyland plan announced by then-chairman of Disney Parks & Resorts Jay Rasulo at the 2009 D23 Expo. The original plan featured not only the Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid-themed areas currentl under construction, but also Cinderella's chateau and Aurora's (Sleeping Beauty) cottage, giving guests four princess-themed meeting places. Disney Fairies were also originally to have their own meet-and-greet location in Pixie Hollow. When the project was rethought in mid-2010 and modified in early 2011, the Cinderella and Aurora locations were gone, replaced by the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster—and the princesses were to be assigned to the new Princess Fairy Tale Hall. With the new coaster carrying a Snow White theme, it was decided that the current Snow White attraction was expendable and could be converted to house multiple princess meet-and-greets. The coaster and Fairy Tale Hall are expected to open in late 2013 or early 2014.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org to help us keep our listings updated.
Wednesday is February 29—Leap Day—and the namesake of the One More Disney Day promotion. As such, the Magic Kingdom ia open for 24 hours, from 6 a.m. Wednesday through 6 a.m. Thursday. Most attractions are open the whole 24 hours, though a few will open late or close early. A few close briefly overnight but reopen before the park finally closes. Various restaurants are either be open all night or close at various times. Several locations are serving breaksfast from at 3 a.m. on Thursday.
Several attractions close before dark or thereabouts. Tom Sawyer Island closes at 5:30 p.m., and the Walt Disney World Railroad and Liberty Square Riverboat both close at 7 p.m. Closing at 4 a.m. to ensure sufficient maintenance time before reopening at 9 a.m. on Thursday are Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and "it's a small world." Closing at 5 a.m. are Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. Attractions that usually open late, such as the Country Bear Jamboree and Liberty Square Riverboat, will open at their usual times.
Closing for short periods overnight are Mad Tea Party (midnight. to 3 a.m.), Snow White's Scary Adventures (1 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.), Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin (1:30 a.m. to 4 a.m.) and Peter Pan's Flight (2 a.m. to 4 a.m.).
Open from their normal start times through park closing will be Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe (opens at 10 a.m.) and Casey's Corner (11 a.m.). Pecos Bill (10:30 a.m.) closes at 2 a.m. and the Plaza Restaurant (11 a.m.) close at 3 a.m. Pinocchio Village Haus (opens at 10:30 a.m.) and Columbia Harbour House (11 a.m.) both close at 10 p.m. Tortuga Tavern is only be open for 4 hours, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For those looking for breakfast in the wee hours of the morning, you'll be able to find it between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. at The Lunching Pad, Main Street Bakery, Sleepy Hollow, Westward Ho, and Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe.
Special event ear hats will be available at The Chapeau, Curtain Call Collectibles, and Sir Mickey's, while other event apparel is available at The Emporium and online through Thursday only. A limited edition watch will be available for purchase at the Main Street Cinema.
If you'll be in attendance, let us know about it!
This year's Disney's Princess Half Marathon saw both a record time and a coast-to-coast milestone. Rachel Booth, of Mandeville, Louisiana, blew away the field of 19,000 runners to finish in 1 hour, 18 minutes, and 11 seconds, just over four minutes ahead of her nearest competitor. Booth's time was seven seconds under the event's previous records of 1:18:18 set by Liza Galvan in 2009. In winning the event, Booth—the two-time defending champion of the Disneyland Half Marathon—became the first runner to win a runDisney event on both coasts. Second place went to Brittney Christianson of Burlington, North Dakota, who finished in 1:22:13, ahead of third-place Heather Sipsma of West Hartford, Connecticut, in 1:23:10. Including the Tangled Royal Family 5K and the Royal Family Kids' Races, a total of 27,000 people participated in the weekend's races
Tables in Wonderland, the discount dining program available to Annual Passholders and Florida residents, is hosting two exclusive special events in March and providing a discount on a third event that's open to the general public:
Thursday, March 15, sees a return of Discovery Dinner at The Wave … of American Flavors at the Contemporary Resort, with a 6:30 p.m. reception and 7:00 p.m. dinner. The $110 price includes tax and gratuity. Appetizers are be paired with wine during the reception, and dinner features an appetizer, salad, entree and dessert, and each course will be paired with wine. This month's dinner again showcases Santa Sweets Tomatoes and Fairview Estate and Terlato Wines. The event is limited to 46 attendees.
Dishes during the reception include Banderillas of Feta Stuffed Grape Tomato, Caramelized Pearl Onions, and Shaved Prosciutto; and Polenta Tapas with Santa Sweets Tomato Marmalade and Baby Mozzarella, paired with Hanna, Sauvignon Blanc. Dinner starts with a Tomato Appetizer 3 Way: Fried Oyster BLT Featuring Santa Sweets Tomato, Thompson Farms Black Pepper Bacon, Chipotle Santa Sweets Tomato Mayo; Santa Sweets and Heirloom Tomato Shooter with Tillamook Smoked Cheddar Cheese Grilled Cheese and Oven Dried Basil; and Santa Sweets Tomato Tar Tar with Goat Cheese Fondue, Crispy Portobello, and Poblano Pepper, paired with Chanson, Vire Clesse.
Tangley Oaks, Pinot Noir is paired with a pasta course of Crab Stuffed Ravioli with Santa Sweets Tomato, Roasted Garlic, and White Wine. The Slow Cooked Wild Boar Chop entree with Truffled Stokes Sweet Potato Fries and Seasonal Vegetable of the Moment is paired with Guardian Peak, Frontier. A cheese course of St. Andre Triple Crème, Midnight Moon and Purple Haze Goat Cheese with Sweet Tomato Raisins and Sun-Dried Tomato Foccacia is paired with Two Hands, Gnarly Dudes. A dessert trio of Goat Cheese and Sweet Tomato Cheesecake, Smoked Grape Tomato and Ice Wine Granita, Pistachio Meringue, is paired with Two Hands, Brilliant Disguise Moscato.
Dress is casual evening attire.
On Saturday, March 17, an Illuminations Dessert Party takes place at Isola Italia (the island across from the Italy pavilion) at Epcot from 8:00-9:30 p.m. For $55 per person, plus tax but including gratuity, guests will enjoy platters of desserts and coffee, as well as premium reserved viewing Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. This event is limited to 200 attendees. Guests can enjoy the refreshments starting an hour before Illuminations, and ending 18 minutes after the 12-minute show's end.
Dessert sampler platters include: Tiramisu Stemware, Guava Cheesecake Pushup with Mango Gelee, Caramel Ganache Bars with Sea Salt, Chocolate Laced Éclairs, Pistachio Cannoli, Baklava, and Spumoni Panna Cotta. A trio of mini gourmet doughnuts will be served with American Coffee Shop Gelato. Doughnut varieties include Tennessee Bourbon Glazed Dark Chocolate Doughnuts, Carmel Nut Glazed Apple Pie Spiced Doughnuts, and Raspberry Glazed Buttermilk Doughnuts. Beer, wine, and specialty drinks will also be available.
To request a reservation to either event, send an e-mail to Tables in Wonderland (link) 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.
In addition, if you were planning to attend the special lunch event at Raglan Road featuring chef Kevin Dundon on March 15, you will be able to use your Tables in Wonderland card to get a discount on the $45 price.
The following is a listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
…Starting March 7, cast members begin fully enforcing the end times on Fastpass tickets. The only leeway to be allowed is 5 minutes before the opening of the window (to allow crowds standing at the attraction entrances waiting for the start of their window) and 15 minutes after the window closes. It is not known if this is a test or if this is a permanent change, but you should be prepared for this to be in effect for the foreseeable future as it is expected to be necessary for the success of the Next Generation Initiative that will eventually allow guests to reserve Fastpasses for their entire vacation.
…Disney's Mobile Magic application is now available for the iPhone, and is available for free downloads from the iTunes App Store. Verizon Wireless customers have access to new premium features, including videos and games within the app. The app features official wait times, Fastpass return times and Fastpass availability information for the park that you are in. The information will not be available when you are outside of the park. There are plenty of other features, so check it out.
…Chef Scott Hunnel of Victoria & Albert's has been named a finalist on The James Beard Foundation's list of top chefs in the country for the sixth year in a row. Hunnel was again nominated for the Best Chef: South award. Winners will be announced in May in New York City. Under Hunnel's leadership, Victoria & Albert's (located at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) has received a Five Diamond rating from AAA for 12 consecutive years.
…Disney's Yellow Shoes Creative Group won eight gold and 11 silver awards—including the Best in Show award—at the ADDY awards, presented by the American Advertising Federation's Orlando chapter on February 17. The Best in Show award was presented for the Disney Cruise Line Facebook Sweepstakes Game. The group won awards in Book Design, Mixed Media, Photography, Special Event Invitation, Online Games, Radio, Internet Commercials, Television, Logo, Illustration and Sales Kit categories. They also won Best-in-Category awards in Interactive, Broadcast Video and Broadcast Radio.
…Registration for the November 9-10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend opens March 13.
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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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).
A Passholder discount is available for most dates March 9 through June 14. The nights of April 1 to 14 and May 25 to 31 are not available due to peak travel periods of Easter break and Memorial Day week.Passholders can book this discount through the day of arrival if rooms are still available. As with all discounts, rooms available at these rates is limited, and 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 Walt Disney World Passholder website or by calling (407) 939-1876 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code RX2. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Passholders can save 25% on Category 2 tickets La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil on performances Tuesday through Friday nights, from January 31 to March 30. To purchase tickets, (407) 939-7604. Note that a valid Passholder ID and advance purchase is required. Tickets can be purchased up to 30 days prior to the show date, and must be picked up at the La Nouba box office Will Call window.
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.