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Update for April 2 – 8, 2012

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News and Views

"AVENGERail" takes to the beam | More information on Boulangerie Patisserie expansion | A Personal Appeal, Year Seven, now with missing links: Take Mark's March of Dimes Challenge! | Projected Halloween Party dates | PhotoPass getting Plussed? | Animal Kingdom Explorers coming to Facebook | Adventures by Disney to go to Southeast Asia | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

"AVENGERail" takes to the beam


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On Saturday morning, a new monorail "wrap" debuted at Walt Disney World. As with the 16-month tenure of the "TRONorail" in 2010-2011, the new wrap is advertising The Avengers, a major motion picture from Disney scheduled for a May 4 release. The wrap is expected to be on the beam for a fairly long time, well beyond the movie's May 4 opening.

The "AVENGERail" was converted from Monorail Red over the last few weeks, and sports a completely black background with energy bolts, the lead heroes, and the movie's logo. The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, and Black Widow, along with the Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. logos, decorate the train.

Look for the "AVENGERail" on the Magic Kingdom Express and Resort lines. The train will not appear on the Epcot line as that would take it inside the park, which is prohibited under Marvel's licensing agreement with Universal Orlando.

This modification again brings up the question of monorail wraps, which seems to polarize the Disney fan community. Let us know in the comments (below) whether you enjoy the wraps or think that they are antithethical with the classic white-with-single-stripe appearance of the rest of the monorail fleet. Would Walt Disney have approved of making the entire fleet a set of moving billboards, or would he have wanted them all to remain pristine with no markings other than the stripe?


The "AVENGERail" is now on the track on the Magic Kingdom loop. Image © Disney.

More information on Boulangerie Patisserie expansion

Two weeks ago, the Nation's Restaurant News interviewed Jerome Bocuse, son of Chef Paul Bocuse and owner of the company that operates all food service operations at Epcot's France pavilion—the two restaurants, the bakery, and the wine and crepe kiosks. During the interview, Bocuse mentioned the expansion and relocation of the popular Boulangerie Patisserie bakery. As reported in an earlier construction update, the expansion will involve two floors, over 3,000 square feet of kitchen space, cast restrooms, a break room, and relocation of the quick service restaurant itself.

According to Bocuse, "We’re going to build a brand new bakery in a new building. It’s going to be very close to the bakeries that you see in France today. More like a modern bakery with sandwiches. We will cook all of our bread all day long and make sandwiches with that fresh bread.?"

The new space is scheduled to open next March, according to the story. Bocuse also mentions that "now we’re redoing and doing renovations at several locations." There is no word on what "several locations" might be changing aside from the Boulangerie.


A giant crane prepares to resume work on the Disney Vacation Club villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The large T-shaped plot of land for the new Grand Floridian villas appears to be graded and ready for the next phase of work. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

A Personal Appeal, Year Seven, now with missing link: Take Mark's March of Dimes Challenge!

[Ed. Note: Somehow, the links to my donation page and the Team MousePlanet page were missing from this story the last two weeks. The links have now been restored, and I have extended my dollar-for-dollar match offer through April 10. I would be most grateful if you would help to support this worthy cause.]

There is nothing more heartbreaking than a baby who is born too soon having medical complications that leave them with medical difficulties for life, or worse, that never let them leave the hospital alive. On April 29, I will once again be walking to raise money for the March of Dimes. The March of Dimes mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.

I will be spending my birthday this year walking to raise money for the March of Dimes. MousePlanet readers and MouseStation listeners have helped me to raise over $20,000 for the worthy charity over the last six years. This year, my goal is to raise another $5,000. This month, I am issuing a special challenge: I will match, dollar-for-dollar, every donation that comes in by April 10 from any MouseStation listener or MousePlanet reader. If it's in by April 10, I'll match it.

You can also walk with me, either in person or virtually, by joining Team MousePlanet and getting your friends and family to contribute! You can go to my fundraising page to sponsor me, or the Team MousePlanet page to join in and walk yourself! Help us to provide a better chance to prevent prematurity and to help those babies that are born prematurely!


Work continues on the track of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad on the shore of the Rivers of America. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.


Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is expected to return to operation on Memorial Day. Photo by Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix.

Projected Halloween Party dates

[Ed. Note: An earlier version of this story inadvertently included the September 7 and 8 dates of Night of Joy in the Halloween party date listing. We regret the error and any confusion that it may have caused.]

We've got projected dates for this year's Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. If the schedule holds, the 23 dates will match the total from last year, down from 25 in 2010. We don't have pricing or a list of available discounts yet, nor do we have dates for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. All of that information should be coming soon. In the meantime, here are the projected dates: September 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, 30, October 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, and November 1.


Construction on the Casey Jr. turntable continues to jut out into the middle of the Storybook Circus walkway. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


One portion of the Casey Jr. turntable appears to have had its concrete poured into the rebar structure and a faux-wood texture brushed into the surface. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Despite the size of the Casey Jr. turntable, there is still plenty of room between the area and the sideshow tents nearby. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

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.


The surrounding structure for the second Dumbo spinner appears to be largely completed. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


While the base for the second Dumbo's spinner structure appears to be in place, none of the water feature or other work has been completed yet. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

PhotoPass getting Plussed?

Our friends at TouringPlans.com are reporting that an enhanced "PhotoPass+" service will be rolled out this Wednesday, where guests can pre-purchase and combine all of their in-park, on-ride, character, and dining photos into a single package. For $199.95, guests get access to any photos taken at a number of character meals and attractions, as well as a PhotoPass+ card and lanyard, and a Disney Gallery CD with over 400 stock photos for personal use.

Participating character meals include:

  • 1900 Park Fare
  • Akershus
  • Cinderella's Royal Table
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
  • 'Ohana
  • Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
  • Tusker House

On-ride photos currently include:

  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
  • Dinosaur
  • Expedition Everest
  • Rock 'n' Roller Coaster
  • Space Mountain
  • Splash Mountain
  • Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Looking at the prices for a la carte character meal photo packages and on-ride photos, if you usually buy many of these the package deal will save you a good deal of money. If you don't usually buy the photos, this deal may be enough to push you over the edge, since it includes all in-park photos as well.


The new Dumbo spinner provides many beautiful photo opportunities by night. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The colors of the new Dumbo spinner and its water feature are brilliant at night. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The new Dumbo design is highly attractive to photographers. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Animal Kingdom Explorers coming to Facebook

Disney's purchase of social media game developer Playdom has now resulted in the first online social game themed to an entire Disney park. The Facebook-based Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers is currently in beta testing, and will be officially released on April 12. A demo scene from the game is available for preview now.


Take a look at a preview of the game.

When the game is eventually released, players will have the ability to create and maintain wildlife nature preserves around the Tree of Life. Available habitats will include the Amazon rainforest, Australian outback, and Rocky Mountains.

According to the games Facebook page, "Playdom, through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, will donate .20 to the Jane Goodall Institute for the Disneynature Tchimpounga Natural Reserve project for each install and tutorial completion of customers who play the Animal Kingdom game on Facebook as referred from the URL www.PlayAnimalKingdom.com during the promotion term of April 12 - 26, 2012. Minimum to be contributed: $100,000 with a maximum of $250,000."


Six-month-old okapi calf Makemba nurses from her mother Zoe at the Pembe Savanna adjacent to Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village. Photo by Vicki Kiskamp.


Okapi mother Zoe follows her daughter Makemba ("Goddess") for a walk on the Pembe Savanna adjacent to Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village. Photo by Vicki Kiskamp.

Adventures by Disney to go to Southeast Asia

Adventures by Disney has announced a new destination for 2013: Southeast Asia. The 12-day, 11-night itinerary will visit locations in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Sites include Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Hanoi, Hoi An, Luang Prabang, Siem Reap, and Angkor Wat. Experiences include rice farming, Vietnamese cooking lessons, horseback riding, and more.


Get a preview of the Southeast Asia itinerary.

Another new offering will be a one-day tour of the Los Angeles area called "Lights, Camera, Magic." This tour will include visits to the Walt Disney Studios, Rodeo Drive, and the Sunset Strip.

More information will be available later this spring. In the meantime, you can contact Adventures by Disney at 1-877-728-7282 or your favorite travel agent. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom entrance cast member break area – general construction.
  • Epcot Innoventions – Vision House kiosks package.
  • Epcot Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion – installation of 2 size O NEMA 3R magnetic starters with hand/off/auto control feature on ISO pump pad by the ISO pool.
  • Epcot Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion – addition of temperature sensor to monitoring system in mechanical/control room.
  • Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Founder's Fountain (Water Cascade Terrace)
  • Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – water activity pool construction.
  • Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – pool bar renovation.
  • Villas at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – pool equipment building.
  • Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort Custom House – carpet.
  • Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Resort Alligator Bayou buildings 24-28 – general construction.
  • Disney's Coronado Springs Resort Convention Center – electrical.


Heavy machinery is on site as work continues on the walkway expansion in western Fantasyland. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


Work on the rockwork surrounding Beast's Castle in New Fantasyland continues. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.


The turrets of Prince Eric's castle in New Fantasyland appear to be almost finished as a structural wall for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rise in the foreground. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

Quick takes …

…Fairytale Garden at the Magic Kingdom park, currently home to Rapunzel, will be getting a new tenant in mid-May. Princess Merida from Disney-Pixar's Brave will be displacing Rapunzel, who will be moving to the terrace of the Adventureland Verandah. Rapunzel will be taking her leave of the garden on April 15. The Fairytale Garden will receive a makeover to make it seem more like the Scottish Highlands setting of the film. Guests will be able to participate in archery lessons and other film-inspired activities while waiting for their turn to meet Princess Merida and the three bear cubs from the film.


While waiting to visit with Princess Merida, park guests will be able to learn archery skills. Artist concept drawing © Disney.


Fantasyland's Fairytale Garden will once again be reimagined, this time to reflect Princess Merida's Scottish highlands home. Artist concept drawing © Disney.

…For those wondering whether the Avatar-themed land is still on or if it's been quietly canceled, it appears to be going strong. A recent interview with Joe Rohde on the Disney Parks Blog congratulating him on his well-deserved Buzz Price Thea Award noted that Rohde is now assigned to the Avatar project. It is highly unlikely that an Imagineer of Rohde's stature would be assigned to a project that is targeted for termination. If anybody can address the fears that an Avatar-based project would seem dated and not "fit" with the rest of the park, it would be Rohde, who has been the park's champion since its original design. In the interview, Rohde noted that that "We have the opportunity to tell that story in a way that will make the AVATAR experience feel like a natural part of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. All of us who are designers have an opportunity to take the work we are given and make it something unexpected."

…Tamu Tamu Refreshments in Africa at Disney's Animal Kingdom has replaced its burger offering with a slow-roasted pulled beef sandwich on a warm pita with mint-yogurt cucumber sauce. the sandwich comes with your choice of "housemade" potato chips or apple slices.

…Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, home to the popular live-sized gingerbread house at Christmastime, has begun a new display for Easter. While the resort's chefs have been creating chocolate egg sculptures for 15 years, they have never been displayed as a collection. A large group of decorated 9- to 12-pound hollow chocolate eggs will be on display together in the resort's lobby through April 9. The completely edible eggs are all decorated with fondant, sugar, royal icing, and themed sculpted sugar pieces. Handpainted chocolate bunnies will also be part of the display.

…Walt Disney World will once again play host to the world premiere of a Disney film. Disneynature's fifth film, Chimpanzee, will premiere on April 13 at the AMC Downtown Disney 24 theater. A red-carpet ceremony will include the film's directors and biologist Jane Goodall. The movie was a co-production between Disneynature and the Jane Goodall Institute.

…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.

…The 2013 Princess Half Marathon weekend takes place February 22-24, 2013. No word yet on a registration opening date for the race.

…Registration for the January 10-13, 2013, Disney Marathon weekend opens next Wednesday, April 10, at 12 noon Eastern time.

…Registration for the November 9-10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is now open.

…Registration for the September 28–29 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend is 72 percent full. Space is filling fast! If you're interested in running it, you may want to register now to avoid being closed out.

…Registration for the May 5 the Expedition Everest Challenge is now full for both the team and individual divisions. The Kids' Races are 58 percent full.


Facade work on the northeast block of Main Street continues, as a detailed scrim blocks the view and protects the park guests. Photo by Mark Goldhaber.

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."

Walt Disney World is still in the midst of Easter season this week. 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, April 3, 2012 10 / 10
Wednesday, April 4, 2012 10 / 10
Thursday, April 5, 2012 10 / 10
Friday, April 6, 2012 10 / 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 Wednesday.
  • Avoid Magic Kingdom on Tuesday.
  • 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

  • Through May 20: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
  • April 27–29: Cheerleading and Dance Worlds.
  • May 5: Expedition Everest Challenge.
  • May 18 to June 10: Fridays through Sundays: Star Wars Weekends.
  • May 31: Finding Nemo wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort opens.
  • June 18: Cars wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort opens.
  • August 10: The Lion King wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort opens.
  • September 7-8: Night of Joy.
  • September 11, 14, 18, 21, 25, 28, 30, October 4, 5, 8, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 30, 31, November 1. Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
  • September 15: The Little Mermaid wing of Disney's Art of Animation Resort opens.
  • September 28–29: Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend.
  • September 28 to November 11: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
  • November 9–10: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
  • November 22, 23, 25: Old Spice Classic.
  • January 10–13, 2013: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.
  • February 22-24, 2013: Disney's Princess Half Marathon.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Storybook Circus – is now open on the former site of Mickey's Toontown.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment through May 20.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed for refurbishment through May 27.
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin – closed for refurbishment June 27-28

Epcot

  • House of Innoventions – closed through May for conversion to "green home."
  • Tutto Italia – closed through April 27.
  • Test Track – closed April through September.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • 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.
  • Wilderness Lodge – metal roof seams recoated thorough June 29.
  • Beach Club Resort – Cape May Cafe closed for refurbishment July 9 through August 3.
  • Yacht Club Resort – building exterior repaired and refinished through August 3.
  • Yacht Club Resort – rooftop HVAC hot water piping replaced January 9 to September 28.
  • 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 through April 24.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort – the Carriage House lobby repainted through April 16.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – building 3 parking lot undergoes rejuvenation through April 27.
  • Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – lobby/atrium refurbishment in commercial building April 9 through May 25.
  • Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – Magnolia Bend building 80 undergoes exterior repair and repainting from February 16 to April 19.
  • Coronado Springs Resort – Ranchos buildings experiences tile roof repair and replacement through July 27.
  • 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.

Water Parks

  • No current closures.

Elsewhere

  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays. For 2012, the show is not be performed:
    • 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 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.