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Update for May 14 – 20, 2012

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News and Views

Out with Flowers, In with Stormtroopers | Dinner and A Show | New baby rhinoceros born at park | Now you can draw Phineas & Ferb | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update

Out with Flowers, In with Stormtroopers

Next weekend marks a changeover of sorts, with the final weekend of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival and the first of four Star Wars Weekends. Mickey Dolenz performs at Epcot in the final Flower Power concerts of the year in place of the late Davy Jones, his Monkees bandmate who passed away earlier this year.

Meanwhile at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Ray Park (Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace), Jerome Blake (Rune Haako/Mas Amedda in The Phantom Menace), and Dee Bradley Baker (Clone Captain Rex and Clone Commander Cody in The Clone Wars) are scheduled to appear, along with event hosts James Arnold Taylor (Obi-Wan Kenobi in The Clone Wars) and Ashley Eckstein (Asoka Tano in The Clone Wars).


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In further news, the final celebrity guest for the third weekend has been announced as Catherine Taber, voice of Padmé Amidala in Clone Wars . Here is the now-final listing of all celebrity guests:

Weekend I – May 18 to 20:

  • Ray Park
  • Jerome Blake (Rune Haako/Mas Amedda in Episode I)
  • Dee Bradley Baker (voice of Clone Captain Rex and Clone Commander Cody in Clone Wars)

Weekend II – May 25 to 27:

  • Ray Park
  • Andy Secombe (Watto in Episode I)
  • Tom Kane (voice of Yoda in Clone Wars)

Weekend III – June 1 to 3:

  • Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker in Episode I)
  • Silas Carson (Nute Gunray/Ki-Adi-Mundi in Episode I)
  • Catherine Taber ( voice of Padmé Amidala in Clone Wars)

Weekend IV – June 8 to 10:

  • Michonne Bourriague (Aurra Sing in Episode I)
  • Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett in Episodes V and VI)
  • Daniel Logan (Boba Fett in Episode II)
  • Nika Futterman (voice of Asajj Ventress in Clone Wars)

A new featured, personalized merchandise experience/opportunity is the ability to get yourself cast in carbonite. If you try the Carbon-Freeze Me experience (by reservation only) you will go to the Carbon-Freezing Chamber (near The American Idol Experience theater and have your face scanned by several cameras. The images will then be used to create a three-dimensional digital version of your face. In about four weeks, a completed smaller-than-life-size figurine of yourself frozen in carbonite (measuring approximately 7 3/4" x 3" x 1") will be shipped directly to your home.

The scanning and first figurine cost $99.95. Each additional figurine with the same image scan costs $74.95 each. The carbonite figurine is suitable for hanging on a wall. Guests will also receive a light-up wristband. The experience will be open only on Star Wars Weekends event days, and reservations are required. You can make a reservation if there are any time slots remaining at 407-WDW-TECH (407-939-8324). You must provide a valid accepted credit card number at the time of booking, and a $25 cancellation fee will be charged to no-shows and those who cancel within 48 hours of their reservation. The charge for the experience is non-refundable and non-exchangeable. No discounts apply to the experience.

Another new personalized merchandise experience that has already opened (and will continue to remain open after Star Wars Weekends) is the Droid Factory. Just inside the entrance to Tatooine Traders (and at a smaller location inside Darth's Mall during Star Wars Weekends), guests can create their own 3-3/4" tall R-series Astromech droids from available parts. There are various bodies, legs, and domes to choose from, plus optional third legs and novelty hats. There are over 70 different pieces in total for guests to choose from.

There are three droids (R6, R8, and R9) that were created specifically for this experience. Guests can even name their droids at checkout with provided sticker sheets. The droids will be sold in single packs (for $11.95 plus tax) or dual packs ($18.95 plus tax).

Guests attending Star Wars Weekends can stay up to date with a new mobile website, DisneyTheForce.com. There are links to information about celebrities, characters, events, and even some downloads.

Dinner and A Show

Last year at this time saw the debut of six AMC Dine-In Theatres (Fork & Screen) at the AMC Downtown Disney 24-multiplex. This June will see a limited-time offering of a different dinner-and-a-show option at Downtown Disney. Tuesdays through Saturdays for the month of June only will be the "Dinner & A Show Package," which provides dinner at the House of Blues and a Category 2 ticket to La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil.

The House of Blues dinner includes an appetizer, an entree, a non-alcoholic/non-specialty drink, and a dessert. The cost of the package, including dinner and the ticket to La Nouba, is $99 plus tax ($105.44) for those age 10 and older, and $85 plus tax ($90.53) for those age 3-9. Call 407-WDW-SEAT (407-939-7328) to book your reservation.

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.

New baby rhinoceros born at park

Just in time for Mother's Day, there was a new baby born at Disney's Animal Kingdom. Kendi, the first white rhino born at the theme park, gave birth to her fourth calf on Friday, May 4, after a 16-month gestation. The healthy male rhino has not yet been named, but is the ninth of the endangered species born at the park.

While Kendi and her baby rhino are off by themselves bonding, they should rejoin the herd on the park's savanna in a few weeks. Disney's breeding program has not only increased the population of the species in captivity, but also in the wild. Two of Disney's white rhinos were returned to the wild at Ziwa Sanctuary in Uganda, where they are helping to repopulate the species in its native habitat.

Now you can draw Phineas & Ferb

Fans of Disney's Phineas and Ferb will be excited to learn that the boys (as well as Agent P, the secret identity of their pet platypus, Perry) have joined the list of characters that guests may be taught how to draw at The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The Animation Academy artists teach guests to draw more than 20 characters (different characters each time) throughout the day. Phineas, Ferb, and Agent P join Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, Stitch, and many more at the attraction.

The attraction's artists recently had the opportunity to meet with the animated series' creators, Jeff "Swampy" Marsh and Dan Povenmire when they were in town for the Summer to Remember press event. Marsh and Povenmire shared some information on the design history of the characters and some secrets from the early days.

A new "Phineas and Ferb Summer to Remember Sweepstakes" will offer 26 winners, plus three guests each (104 people in all, to match the "104 days of summer" from the show's theme song) a Walt Disney World vacation from August 23 to 28, 2012. More information and official rules are available at the sweepstakes website.

Construction update

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

  • Magic Kingdom Dumbo – sc. 1 showset package 2.
  • Magic Kingdom – merchandise cart installation.
  • Magic Kingdom Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe mechanical room – mechanical.
  • Magic Kingdom Stitch's Great Escape mechanical room – mechanical.
  • Magic Kingdom Castle Stage – mechanical.
  • Epcot – Phineas & Ferb Odyssey Bridge cart.
  • Epcot Land pavilion Life Support – installation of eye wash.
  • Epcot Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion main tank – electrical.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Toy Story Mania – fire sprinkler replacement.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Guest Services building – installation of 2'x2'x2' storm water catch basin with traffic rated grate to existing line.
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios Animation Theater – roofing.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom Discovery Island – pump replacement/renovation.
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge – carpentry.
  • Saratoga Springs Resort Congress Park bus stop – general construction.
  • Disney's Old Key West Resort feature pool & pool deck – mechanical.
  • Port Orleans French Quarter Resort laundry building – roofing.
  • Disney's Art of Animation Resort commercial building – phase 1 renovations.
  • Disney's Art of Animation Resort commercial building – construction.

Quick takes …

…Norway's Constitution Day is this Thursday, May 17. You can help Norway celebrate its independence with special events at Epcot's Norway pavilion, or by reading Paul Torrigino's four- part series on The Maelstrom's design and construction (part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4).

…Downtown Disney hosts its second annual Car Masters Weekend June 2 to 3. As with last year, families can visit with Lightning McQueen, Mater, and Finn McMissile, as well as check out more than one hundred classic cars on display. In addition, the original Cars will be playing all weekend at the AMC Pleasure Island 24, and you can also check out the Cars 2-themed Ridemakerz models. New this year are an appearance by automotive designer Chip Foose, a LEGO interactive zone, Cars-themed topiaries (fresh from Epcot), a DJ, food trucks, and a special appearance by Jay Ward, Pixar's Cars guardian.

…Princess Merida and the three bear cubs from Disney-Pixar's Brave began meeting park guests at the Storytale Garden in the Magic Kingdom last week. Early reports are that the Animatronic bear cubs steal the show. Let us know if you've gotten the chance to experience this new meet-and-greet.

…If you want to get in one last visit to Snow White's Scary Adventures, time is running out. There are just two and a half weeks left before the attraction closes for good on May 31.

…For those of you in or near Ohio, MousePlanet columnist and Disney Historian Jim Korkis and Disney Legend Bob Gurr will be the guest speakers at the Dayton Disneyana Show at the Wyndham Garden Hotel in Dayton, Ohio on Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1. The event is open to the public. Check out the event website for further information.

…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 opens Tuesday, July 10 at 12:00 p.m. EDT.

…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 57 percent full.

…Registration for the January 10-13, 2013, Disney Marathon Weekend is now open. Registration for Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge is 61 percent full.

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."

Crowd levels are moderate this week at Walt Disney World. 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, May 15, 2012 6 / 10
Wednesday, May 16, 2012 6 / 10
Thursday, May 17, 2012 5 / 10
Friday, May 18, 2012 6 / 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!

  • Star Wars Weekends at Disney's Hollywood Studios start this weekend.
  • If visiting Epcot, remember that Test Track is closed now Fall 2012; plan your FASTPASS strategy accordingly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • July: Remainder of Storybook Circus opens at Magic Kingdom.
  • 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 2. 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 9, 12, 15, 16, 25, 27, 29, and 30, December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, and 21. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.
  • November 22, 23, 25: Old Spice Classic.
  • "In time for Holidays 2012": Little Mermaid- and Beauty and the Beast-themed sections of New Fantasyland open at Magic Kingdom.
  • December 13: Disney Vacation Club Condominium Association annual meeting.
  • January 10–13, 2013: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.
  • February 22-24, 2013: Disney's Princess Half Marathon.

Refurbishments and Attraction Closures

Magic Kingdom

  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment through May 20.
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – closed for refurbishment through May 27.
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures – closes permanently on May 31 for conversion to Princess Fairy Tale Hall.
  • Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin – closed for refurbishment June 27-29.
  • Enclosed Dumbo queue, – opens in July.
  • Second Dumbo spinner – opens in July.
  • Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station – opens in July.
  • Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment August 4-10.
  • Be Our Guest Restaurant – opens by Holidays 2012.
  • Maurice's Cottage – opens by Holidays 2012.
  • Gaston's Tavern – opens by Holidays 2012.
  • Bonjour Gifts – opens by Holidays 2012.
  • Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid – opens by Holidays 2012.
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – opens 2014.
  • Princess Fairy Tale Hall – opens 2014.

Epcot

  • Test Track – closed through November 30 for "reimagining."

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular – closed for refurbishment May 16-17

Animal Kingdom

  • Affection Section – closed for refurbishment May 3-June 6.

Resorts

  • Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – 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 Yachtsman Steakhouse – closed for refurbishment August 27 through September 15.
  • 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.
  • Fort Wilderness Campground & Resort Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue – closed for refurbishment August 5 through December 31.
  • Port Orleans - Riverside Resort – lobby/atrium refurbishment in commercial building April 9 through May 25.
  • 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

  • Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 28 for annual refurbishment.
  • Blizzard Beach – closed for annual refurbishment upon reopening of Typhoon Lagoon.

Elsewhere

  • Lake Buena Vista Golf Course – closed May 7-17 for refurbishment.
  • Magnolia Golf Course – closed May 14-23 for refurbishment.
  • Palm Golf Course – closed May 29 through June 8 for refurbishment.
  • Oak Trail Golf Course – closed May 29 through September 28 for refurbishment.
  • 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

Discounted rooms and packages released for summer

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.

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

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.

Free dining offers for late August through late September

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).

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).

Tables in Wonderland members can save on tickets to La Nouba

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 and May 29 to June 27. For the earlier set of dates, prices for members and up to 3 guests are $66.75 plus tax for adults and $54.00 plus tax for children. For the later dates, prices for members and up to 3 guests are $57.85 plus tax for adults and $46.80 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.

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.