The Orange Bird has landed back in Adventureland.
From the Magic Kingdom's opening in 1971 through approximately 1981, Tropical Serenade (the original name for Walt Disney World's Tiki Room) was sponsored by the Florida Citrus Growers, as was the Sunshine Tree Terrace restaurant. The mascot for the group was the Orange Bird, which was designed by Disney and used in several advertising campaigns at the time. He had a theme song ("The Orange Bird Song") written by the Sherman Brothers, appeared as a walk-around character, and graced a variety of commemorative merchandise. The Orange Bird disappeared from the parks in 1981, and the Florida Citrus Growers let their sponsorship lapse in 1986.
The character started his comeback last fall, when Orange Bird-inspired merchandise was released as part of "The Florida Project" merchandise event in celebration of Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary. The warm reception that the merchandise received led to Walt Disney Imagineering bringing back the character to the place where it all began, the Sunshine Tree Terrace (this time without the Florida Citrus Growers connection). The return was announced at a special "tweetup" (a gathering of Twitter users) hosted by Disney's official D23 fan club last Tuesday morning.
There is plenty of new Orange Bird merchandise on the shelves already—including T-shirts, a novelty drink cup, pins, a print—with more on the way, with an Orange Bird ear hat available this summer. In fact, there's even an original Orange Bird statue from the 1970s that was brought back from Imagineering offices in California to be displayed behind the counter at the Sunshine Tree Terrace.
Along with the Orange Bird, an original treat from the Sunshine Tree Terrace has returned. The Citrus Swirl, a soft-serve vanilla ice cream and frozen orange juice twist, is also back. The frozen concoction—which returned about a month ago—is available in either a cone or a cup for $3.19. A similar version has been available at Magic Kingdom park's Aloha Isle using orange-flavored soft-serve instead of frozen orange juice, but it lacks the tartness of the original, which some consider much more refreshing.
Long lines of park guests were grabbing drinks in an Orange Bird sippy cup throughout the weekend. In the background is the original Orange Bird that greeted guests back in 1971 when the park opened. It has been newly refurbished. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Walt Disney World's November operating calendar has been released, and it appears that the final night of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party is one night later than expected. The final Halloween Party of 2012 will take place on Friday night, November 2, instead of Thursday night, November 1.
We also have the projected November dates for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and have used them to further project the dates for December. The November dates appear to be November 9, 12, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, and 30. Based on the apparent Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday schedule (as opposed to last year's Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday schedule), we are projecting December's dates to be December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, and 21.
The final dates will be released when tickets go on sale, which should take place within the next couple of weeks.
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 spend my birthday 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.
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. My dollar-for-dollar donation matching offer raised over $1,100 in qualifying donations, resulting in over $2,200 for the March of Dimes!
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!
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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 VISION House opened yesterday at Epcot's Innoventions. The date was chosen to coincide with Earth Day, as the focus of the house is that the smart home features many green technologies to save energy and decrease the impact on the environment.
The exhibit, which replaces the former House of Innoventions, displays such technologies as smartphone-controlled security and climate control, smog-eating roof tiles, whole-home automation, high-efficiency air conditioning, water-conserving fixtures, and other technologies that park guests can implement in their own homes. The exhibit was designed in conjunction with Green Builder Media and features technologies from Ingersoll Rand, Nexia, Schlage, Trane, and Kohler, among others.
Park guests take a guided tour led by a cast member, utilizing a mobile device to activate various displays. To extend the experience back into the home, Green Builder Median has created a special website for the VISION House.
Casey Jr. has come to town. He is pulling the giraffe and elephant cars behind him. The camel car is currently across from him. Note that each car is numbered. The camel car is labeled 98 for the year that Disney's Animal Kingdom opened. The giraffe car is number 89 for the opening of the Disney-MGM Studios. In the foreground are circus wheels. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
This is the backside of the elephant car, which is number 71 for the opening of the Magic Kingdom. Across the way is the clown car, which is likely numbered 82 for the opening of Epcot. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Look carefully and you will see monkeys and giraffe heads to be added to the train cars. Also present are likely clown props for their car. Casey's cow catcher is still missing. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
This week we learned that Disney Cruise Line is rolling out a mandatory pre-payment policy for onboard gratuities. Dining room servers, assistant servers and head servers, as well as stateroom hosts / hostesses (housekeeping), earn the majority of their wages from tips. Until this week, Disney offered passengers the opportunity to pre-pay the suggested gratuity (about $12 per day per passenger) before they boarded. Passengers who opted not to pre-pay their gratuities could do so once onboard, but this practice resulted in long lines near the end of every cruise.
Now Disney has announced they will automatically add the suggested gratuity to the shipboard accounts of passengers who have not pre-paid their gratuities by the time they check in for their cruise. The policy is already in place on the Disney Magic, and rolled out to the Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder this weekend. Disney has not yet determined when the policy will go into effect on the Disney Dream.
Passengers who wish to increase or decrease the amount of tip, or who wish to change the form of payment (paying cash instead of by credit card) can still do so at guest relations after they board.
This change helps reduce the frequently long lines at guest services, and also eliminates the chance that a passenger might "forget" to arrange gratuities for their service team, both benefiting Disney and their crew. However, some passengers object to being forced to pay the nominally-discretionary gratuity before ever boarding the ship, and question whether the service on Disney's ships will be impacted by the change. Will servers and stateroom hosts go that extra mile if they know that their tip is already on the books, or will pre-paid tips result in the same decrease in service often experienced at character dining restaurants and other locations where an automatic gratuity is applied?
Thanks to Mary Kraemer with MousePlanet sponsor MouseEarVacations.com for the heads up on this latest DCL policy change.
Players of Disney's theme park-inspired Facebook game Disney Animal Kingdom Explorers can get a special bonus code from the Disney Parks Blog. The blog posted the code last Wednesday in honor of the release of the Disneynature movie Chimpanzee. As a reminder, the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund will donate 20 cents to the Jane Goodall Institute for every install and tutorial completion by players referred to the game through a special website through April 26.
Let us know what you think of the game.
The following is a listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
When eating lunch at a counter service restaurant at the parks, don't be surprised to receive a coupon giving you 20% off merchandise at the major stores at the parks if you shop prior to noon. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
…The closure of Test Track for "reimagining," previously announced to run through mid-September, has quietly been extended. The Walt Disney World website now lists the closure as running through November 30, the last day currently on the calendar. This extension is reminiscent of the update of Spaceship Earth in 2007, which was originally announced to be returning before the park's 25th anniversary celebration on October 1, but did not reopen until December. In this case, the closure was originally scheduled to end before the park's 30th anniversary celebration, and now will be delayed well beyond that date.
…Did you know that you can learn to surf at Walt Disney World? Craig Carroll's Cocoa Beach Surf School runs a two-and-a-half hour class on select mornings prior to the opening of Typhoon Lagoon. The park's 2.75-million-gallon wave pool is actually capable of producing 6-foot surfing waves. The program is available to those ages 8 and older, and costs $150 per person. You can make your reservations by calling 407-WDW-PLAY (407-939-7529).
…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. Registration will open Tuesday, July 10 at 12:00 p.m. EDT.
…Registration for the May 5 the Expedition Everest Challenge is now full for both the team and individual divisions. The Kids' Races are 73 percent full.
…Registration for the September 28–29 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10-Miler Weekend is now full. There is a waitlist in case additional spots become available..
…Registration for the November 9-10 Disney's Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is now open.
…Registration for the January 10-13, 2013, Disney Marathon Weekend is now open.
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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Two new discounts have been released for this summer, one for room and ticket packages and one for room-only reservations. Both discounts are available for stays most nights from June 15 through August 14 and must be booked by June 14.
Discounts on package stays are available for a minimum stay of three nights and a minimum Magic Your Way base ticket of two days. These rates are available for June 15 through August 4 at Value and Moderate Resorts and July 15 and August 14 at Deluxe and Deluxe Villas Resorts. This discount does not include Disney's Art of Animation Resort.
Room-only discounts are available for June 15 through August 4 (Value Resorts) or August 14 (Moderate, Deluxe, and Deluxe Villas Resorts). Discounts are 15 percent at Value Resorts, 20 percent at Moderate Resorts, and 25 percent at Deluxe and Deluxe Villas Resorts. This discount does not include suites and 3 bedroom Grand Villas.
No other discounts or group rates apply. The number of discounted rooms at these rates are limited, and additional minimum stay lengths may apply for weekend arrivals.
Both packages use discount code C8Q.
For the discounted packages, you can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-4990 or your favorite travel agent.
For the room-only discounts, you can make your reservation through the Walt Disney World website or by calling (407) 939-1920 or your favorite travel agent.
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.
Walt Disney World is offering free dining with packages for Disney Visa card members and the general public. 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.
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 you must book by May 18 to get this offer.
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).
Disney Visa card members can make reservations 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).
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).
Tables in Wonderland members can purchase discounted Category 2 tickets La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil on performances Tuesday through Saturday nights, from April 17 to May 11. Prices for members and up to 3 guests are $66.75 plus tax for adults and $54.00 plus tax for children. To purchase tickets, call 407-WDW-SEAT (407-939-7328). Note that a valid Tables in Wonderland ID and advance purchase is required. Tickets 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.