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Update for March 5 – 11, 2012

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News and Views

Free dining offers released for late August through late September | Disney Fantasy christened in New York City | One More Disney Day recap | Monorail service suspended afternoons for next two weeks | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Free dining offers released for late August through late September

Last Thursday, Walt Disney World announced a free dining offer for Disney Visa card members, which should be available to all guests starting today. The offer is valid for stays most nights from August 25 through September 29, 2012. As with the most recent offers, guests staying at Value resorts receive a free Quick Service Dining Plan, while guests staying in Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa accommodations receive the standard Disney Dining Plan. Guests can upgrade their dining plan for the usual difference in price between each dining plan.


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The offer is only available for packages including room, tickets, and dining, and all members of the party much purchase the same package and tickets. Minimum length of stay is three nights with two-day base tickets; maximum stay on the package is 14 days. Some blackout dates apply.

Suites and campsites are not included in this offer, and Disney Visa card holders must book by May 18 to get this offer. We do not yet have the booking end date for the general-availability package.

You can make your card member reservation through the Disney Visa Rewards website or by calling (407) 939-1881 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code L69 (for Value resorts) or B7I (for Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa Resorts).

We do not yet have discount codes for the general-availability packages, but they should appear on the Special Offers page this morning.

UPDATE: For the general-availability packages, you can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-7414 or your favorite travel agent and mentioning discount code B7H (for Value resorts) or SS5 (for Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villa Resorts).

MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Disney Fantasy christened in New York City

Last Tuesday morning, not long after sunrise, the Disney Fantasy sailed under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and headed through New York Harbor toward Pier 88 on the east side of Manhattan while its horn played "New York, New York." It was greeted by sprays of water from fire boats as it approached its New York home for the next three days.


As dawn breaks, the Disney Fantasy appears under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and approaches New York Harbor (top, l. to r.). The ship is greeted by fire boats and passes in front of the Empire State Building (bottom, l. to r.). Photos by Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations.


The Disney Fantasy sails past the Statue of Liberty. Photo © Disney.

Travel agents and other dignitaries toured the ship on Wednesday, getting a chance to see some of the features of the Fantasy that differentiate it from its sister ship, the Disney Dream.


The view from below of the Art Nouveau chandelier in the atrium and a look at the decor of Animator's Palate (top, l. to r.). Shutters has touch screens to look at your on-board photos and a play wall for kids to enjoy (bottom, l. to r.). Photos by Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations.


The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique has many makeover stations and plenty of costumes for girls (top, l. to r.). Men can enjoy the barber shop and ladies can get pedicures, as well (bottom, l. to r.). Photos by Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations.


Clubs at Europa include Ooh La La, O'Gill's, The Tube, and La Piazza (clockwise from top left). Photos by Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations.

On Thursday night, the assembled group was treated to a show in the Walt Disney Theatre, featuring host Neil Patrick Harris, Jerry Seinfeld, Heather Headley, and more. They next moved to the ship's atrium for the Fantasy's christening ceremony. The ship's godmother, Mariah Carey, was escorted by Mickey Mouse to join Disney CEO Bob Iger and Disney Parks & Resorts chairman Tom Staggs at the foot of the stairs, adjacent to the statue of Mademoiselle Minnie Mouse and a six-foot-tall champagne bottle.


Neil Patrick Harris and the cast of the pre-christening performance strike a post. Photo © Disney.


A 6-foot-tall champagne bottle awaits the christening ceremony (top left). Bob Iger and Tom Staggs introduce the officers and crew of the ship (bottom left). Tom Staggs, Mariah Carey, Bob Iger, and Captain Mickey Mouse celebrate the christening of the Disney Fantasy (right, top and bottom). Photos by Sue Pisaturo of Small World Vacations.


Final preparations are made for the christening ceremony.

Carey dedicated the ship with the toast, "I christen thee Disney Fantasy. May God bless this ship and all who sail on her." Then Minnie Mouse, together with Carey's husband Nick Cannon, smashed a bottle of champagne against the ship from a platform in the ship's side. As the bottle broke against the side of the ship, the huge bottle in the ship's atrium erupted with streamers and confetti. Everyone then dined in the Royal Court restaurant and attended a party in the Europa nightclub district.


Watch the official recap video from the christening ceremony.

The Fantasy left Manhattan the next morning, headed for its home port at Port Canaveral, where it will arrive tomorrow. Before the official maiden voyage on Saturday, March 31, Disney plans to test the ship's performance with a number of shakedown cruises with cast members and their family, after which Disney welcomes invited media for two preview cruises (the first from March 23 to 26, and a second from March 26 to 29).


See what celebrities thought of the Disney Fantasy

Many photos used in the story are courtesy of Sue Pisaturo of MousePlanet partner Small World Vacations. You can see more photos and information on her blog reports from the ship's arrival, the ship tours, and the christening celebration.

Send us your menu photos

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 menus@mouseplanet.com to help us keep our listings updated.

One More Disney Day recap

Last Wednesday, Leap Day, was also One More Disney Day. There were many highs and lows throughout the 24-hour opening of the Magic Kingdom, as well as Disneyland Park. In case you missed it last week, MousePlanet's Stephanie Wien did a great job of curating reports as they came in throughout the day for a look at the events as they happened.

Monorail service suspended afternoons for next two weeks

Beginning last Friday on March 2, Disney is suspending monorail service on the Magic Kingdom Resort and Express lines during the middle of the day, from 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. through March 17, to accommodate construction of the new Disney Vacation Club villas near the Grand Floridian, so that the construction vehicles couldsafely work without to the monorail track for safe operation of the trains. In addition, we are hearing that Disney will also take advantage of the suspension to address the weather damage to the beams between the Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom stations. The Epcot monorail will be unaffected. Until service resumes on Saturday, March 17, Disney is providing additional watercraft and buses to help guests get to the Magic Kingdom.


Check out some of the new costumes that will debut with the New Fantasyland expansion.

Construction update

The following is a listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:

  • Walt Disney World property-wide – installation of WiFi and Distributed Antenna System.
  • Magic Kingdom Astro Orbiter – general construction.
  • Magic Kingdom Great Goofini – handrails/shrouds.
  • Magic Kingdom Pooh Meet & Greet – graphics.
  • Epcot Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion main tank – construction.
  • Epcot Land pavilion Living with the Land – installation of "bird door" for boat storage.
  • Epcot Land pavilion – queue modifications.
  • Epcot Land pavilion Soarin' – queue modifications.
  • Epcot Norway pavilion Maelstrom – queue modifications.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Rock 'n' Roller Coaster – queue modifications.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Epic Theater (Indiana Jones stunt show) – queue modifications.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Great Movie Ride – queue modifications.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Catastrophe Canyon – electrical.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Kilimanjaro Safaris – queue modifications.
  • Fantasia Gardens/Fantasia Fairways miniature golf – painting.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas - Kidani Village lobby – electrical.
  • Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts Ship Shape Health Club – contractors general conditions.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort Carriage House & Porte Cochere – painting.
  • Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort sales building – roofing.
  • Disney's Pop Century Resort – carpentry for guest room refrigerator installations.
  • Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort (Downtown Disney Area Resort Hotel) – correction of sprinkler deficiencies.


Here's another look at the progress at the upcoming Disney's Art of Animation Resort.

Quick takes …

…Disney has filed a permit for property-wide installation of "WiFi and Distributed Antenna System." No word on whether it is for guest-accessible WiFi or if it's just for the use of Disney operations cast members.

…Fan favorite Davy Jones, former lead singer for The Monkees, passed away last week at age 66 as a result of a heart attack. Jones, always a popular entertainer during the annual Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, was scheduled to close out the Flower Power concert series again this year May 18-20. There has been no announcement yet of who will replace him on the schedule.

…Disney has filed a permit for carpentry work related to refrigerator installations in all guest rooms at the Pop Century Resort. This is welcome news for all those who stay at the Value resort.

…Blizzard Beach was closed yesterday due to predicted low temperatures. This happens occasionally during the winter months. While there were no water parks available (Typhoon Lagoon is closed for its annual refurbishment through March 17), resort pools were still open.

…Disney has filed permits for queue modifications at Epcot's The Land pavilion, Soarin', and Maelstrom; Rock 'n 'Roller Coaster, Epic Theater, and The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios; and Kilimanjaro Safaris at Disney's Animal Kingdom. No word yet on what's coming in those locations, but it's likely related to the Next Generation Initiative technology upgrades.

…The MousePlanet Newsletter is here! The newsletter contains a recap of the week's articles (in case you miss a day), news that may have developed since the weekly Updates were published, and tips about what's happening at the Disney theme parks for the coming weekend. We'll also include a fun MouseAdventure bonus, such as an Eye Spy or a trivia question. To subscribe to our free newsletter, go to the MousePlanet main page and enter your email address in the top right box labeled "Join the MousePlanet Newsletter." Click Join, then fill out the fields in the registration page, including your first and last name. The Newsletter is free, but you must complete this registration to receive it, even if you may have signed up for one with us in the past.

…This year's Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival opens this Wednesday, March 7.

…The Orlando Sentinel has an interesting look at what's happening with sales at Disney's Golden Oak community.

…Registration for the November 9-10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend opens next Tuesday, March 13.

…Registration for the September 28–29 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend is now open.

…Registration for the May 5 the Expedition Everest Challenge is 71 percent full for both the team and individual divisions.

Crowd update

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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."

Spring Break begins for some schools at the end of this week, so enjoy these relatively light crowds while they last! TouringPlans.com can help you avoid falling into the typical tourist pitfalls, and will help you avoid the dreaded tour groups, with our per-park Crowd Calendar, Lines - Mobile Wait Times App that gives access to current and estimated wait times for attractions, and Touring Plans detailing the best plan of attack for hitting the attractions. Now more than ever, it's a good time to subscribe to TouringPlans.com to plan your strategy to avoid the crowds!

Below are the predicted resort-wide crowd numbers for select days generated by the TouringPlans professional statisticians as measured for the upcoming week. For the access to the full year and per-park crowd level predictions, visit our Crowd Calendar.

Date Overall
Tuesday, March 6, 2012 1 / 10
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 5 / 10
Thursday, March 8, 2012 6 / 10
Friday, March 9, 2012 7 / 10

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!

  • Avoid Disney's Hollywood Studios on Tuesday.
  • Avoid Disney's Animal Kingdom on Friday.
  • Following a Touring Plan is important when crowd levels spike at the park you're visiting!

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.
  • Peter Pan's Flight – remains open while work takes place on a new interactive queue through March 6.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment through May 20.
  • Plaza Ice Cream Parlor – closed for refurbishment through March 27.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed for refurbishment through May 27.
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant – closed for refurbishment; currently scheduled to reopen at Storybook Circus March 12.
  • Magic Carpets of Aladdin – closed for refurbishment February 26 to March 10.

Epcot

  • House of Innoventions – closed through May for conversion to "green home."
  • Tutto Italia – closed through April 30.
  • Test Track – closed April through September.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment February 13 to March 9.
  • Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure – closed for refurbishment February 13 to March 9.
  • Indiana Jones Epcot Stunt Spectacular – closed for refurbishment March 10-11.
  • Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show – closed for refurbishment April 29 to May 2.

Animal Kingdom

  • No known current closures.

Resorts

  • Grand Floridian Spa – closed through mid-2013 for refurbishment.
  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – pool side at Beach Pool closed February 6 athrough March 2. The pool remains open.
  • Contemporary Resort – main tower balcony wall panel refinished through March 30.
  • Polynesian Resort – Great Ceremonial House atrium ceiling steel refinished and skylight fabric replaced February 27 to March 23.
  • Wilderness Lodge – metal roof seams recoated from January 30 to June 29.
  • Wilderness Lodge – exterior decorative timbers repaired and replaced from February 13 to March 12.
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House Bus Stop lane repaved from February 22 to March 21.
  • Yacht Club Resort – building exterior repaired and refinished through August 3.
  • Yacht Club Convention Center – lobby refurbished through March 2.
  • Yacht Club Resort – rooftop HVAC hot water piping replaced January 9 to September 28.
  • BoardWalk Resort – roadway rejuvenation from the main entrance road to the bus stop area and through the Conference Center exit area from February 22 to March 21.
  • Old Key West Resort – lobby and Olivia's buildings undergo metal roof repairs February 23 to May 16.
  • Old Key West Resort – bus and picnic shelters undergo wood truss repair and repainting February 9 to March 30.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort – villa buildings undergo exterior cleaning and painting one at a time between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through August 30.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort – rockwork painting at High Rock Springs Pool from February 9 to April 24.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort – the Carriage House lobby repainted from February 21 to April 16.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – the main commercial building has its flat roof replaced through March 30.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – buildings 6 & 7 parking lots undergoes roadway rejuvenation from through March 13.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – building 3 parking lot undergoes rejuvenation February 27 to April 27.
  • Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – Alligator Bayou leisure pool near buildings 36 & 39 closed February 27 through March 1. All other leisure pools plus the Ol' Man Island feature pool remain open.
  • Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – Alligator Bayou buildings receives exterior repainting two at a time through March 30.
  • Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – Magnolia Bend building 80 undergoes exterior repair and repainting from February 16 to April 19.
  • Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – Magnolia Bend building 95 undergoes building and room refurbishment from February 19 to March 23.
  • Coronado Springs Resort – Ranchos buildings experiences tile roof repair and replacement through July 27.
  • Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – pool side at Meadow Feature Pool closed February 6 through March 2. The pool remains open.
  • Fort Wilderness Campsites – concrete pad repairs takes place through March 12.
  • Pop Century Resort – 60s lodge building will have themed walls refinished near the Mowgli & Baloo icons from February 20 to March 30.
  • Pop Century Resort – repairs of concrete deck at Hippy Dippy Pool through September 28. The pool remains open during the work, but some small sections of the pool deck will be closed periodically throughout this period.
  • All-Star Music Resort – Piano Pool closed February 6 to March 2; Calypso Pool will remain open.
  • All-Star Movies Resort – Beverage coolers installed in guest rooms through March 16. The installation takes place one floor at a time between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Guests notified via an in-room flier the day before the work is scheduled to take place.

Water Parks

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed through March 17 for annual refurbishment.

Elsewhere

  • Downtown Disney Marketplace Basin – closed through mid-March for renovations.
  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. For 2012, the show is not be performed:
    • March 20
    • May 15–26
    • July 24
    • September 18–22
    • November 27

Current Discounts & Promotions

Florida resident ticket discount

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.

Passholder discounts available through March

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).

Passholder room discounts available through June

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 tickets to La Nouba

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.

Military ticket offer

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.


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.