Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update for December 13 – December 19, 2010
Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions
Mickey's Toontown Fair to close for good in February | Disney Cruise Line takes possession of the Disney Dream | Boys & Girls Club members to get special preview of Disney Dream | Coupons offer 30 percent off quick-service through January 3 | Disney, unions extend contract again | High-speed rail to link Orlando, Tampa | Construction update | Quick takes
After originally being planned to occur a year earlier, Mickey's Toontown Fair will close its gates for good on February 11, 2011. It is believed that its original reprieve came when new Disney Parks Chairman Tom Staggs put a hold on much of the Fantasyland Forest expansion for reevaluation after he took over at the beginning of 2010. It now appears that the reworking of the plans for the huge expansion have been set, and Toontown Fair will be subsumed as originally planned.
With the closure, characters doing meet-and-greets in the Magic Kingdom's newest land will need to move elsewhere. In the spring of 2011, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and the princesses will move to the Town Square Exhibition Hall (which may receive a new name at that time), though they'll be doing meet-and- greets at locations top be determined throughout the Magic Kingdom until the new site is ready.
Tinker Bell's friends will be going to Epcot during the International Flower & Garden Festival to the Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden, while the original pixie herself will be relocating to Disney's Hollywood Studios. According to a Twitter post by Matt Hochberg of Studios Central (link), Tinker Bell is moving to the Journey Into Narnia building. The move of Tinker Bell to the Narnia building makes sense, as—with the Narnia movie series switching to Fox as of the latest installment—there's no real need for Disney to continue promoting the franchise.
In the original plans for the Fantasyland makeover, the Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm will survive the makeover, though it will be rethemed. The land will become home to two copies of Dumbo the Flying Elephant, with a new "queue-less" waiting system. While the timeline has changed, it is likely that the plans themselves have not changed.
While the Walt Disney World Railroad will stay open during the construction, the Toontown station will be closed. Expect it to reopen as the Fantasyland Station at the conclusion of the construction work. Most of the new Fantasyland Forest should be completed by 2013, with the early phases likely to be open by 2012.
On Thursday, Disney Cruise Line took possession of the new Disney Dream cruise ship from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, Germany. The traditional maritime ceremony included the lowering of the flags of Meyer Werft and Germany, and the raising of the flags of Disney Cruise Line and the Bahamas (the location o the ship's registry). Karl Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line, and Bernard Meyer, Managing Partner of Meyer Werft, signed the official documents for the transfer.
The ship will now bring on its full crew, under Captain Tom Forberg, and load supplies. It will then depart from Bremerhaven on December 19 for a transatlantic repositioning voyage as the ship readies for its first passengers. The Dream is expected to arrive at Port Canaveral, Florida on January 4, 2011, after which it will go through a couple of weeks of family-and-friends shakedown cruises before its christening on January 19. It will officially launch on its maiden voyage with paying passengers on January 26.
After signing a contract to build the Dream and its sister ship, the Disney Fantasy (launching April 7, 2012), in April 2007 and nearly two years of planning, the first steel was cut at Meyer Werft's shipyard in Papenburg, Germany, on March 2, 2009.
Captain Forberg has been with Disney Cruise Line for 15 years, and was also responsible for launching the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder.
The Dream, the largest ship ever built by Meyer Werft, will said three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral, taking over the itineraries currently sailed by the Wonder. This will free the Wonder to relocate to the West Coast to sail from the Port of Los Angeles to Mexico, and also to sail Alaskan itineraries during the warmer months. When the Fantasy launches, it will sail seven-night alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries from Port Canaveral, freeing up the Disney Magic for other ports of call.
Reservations may be booked through the Disney Cruise Line Web site (link), by calling Disney Cruise Line at 888-DCL-2500 (888-325-2500), or your travel agent. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
A special two-night, invitation-only preview cruise will take place aboard the Disney Dream January 21-23, 2011, that will feature some surprise guests: 45 children from Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida plus 24 of their parents and chaperones. Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz, before leaving for Germany to take ownership of the Dream, stopped by a special meeting at the Walt Disney World Clubhouse of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida in Pine Hills to break the news. The 45 children are from Brevard, Osceola, Orange and Seminole counties.
In addition, 100 percent of the cruise fare will be donated directly to the organization. Rick Continelli, senior vice president of sales and travel operations for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, was a former Boys & Girls Club member himself, and is now an active corporate board member with the Central Florida group.
If you'll be at Walt Disney World between now and January 3 and you're willing to eat quick-service meals at off-peak hours, you can save a bundle with a coupon published on the Disney Parks Blog last week (link). The coupon provides 30 percent off your bill (excluding alcohol) with the purchase of any entree at select restaurants when you buy your meal before noon or between 3:00 and 4:30 p.m.
The move is targeted at better distributing the crowds during the busiest weeks at the parks. With crowd levels getting to the busiest level that they will reach, huge crowds waiting long times to get a meal would create a great deal of ill will, so Disney is instead providing a discount to move some of that traffic to times when the lines will be shorter. By eating at off-hours, not only does it relieve crowds at peak times, but it also lets you have shorter lines getting your food, and also have shorter lines at the attractions while everyone else is waiting in line for food – with a discount to boot!
You can get 30 percent off at the following locations:
- Magic Kingdom
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
- Columbia Harbour House
- Pinocchio Village Haus
- Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant
- Electric Umbrella
- Liberty Inn
- Sunshine Seasons
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Backlot Express
- ABC Commissary
- Studio Catering Company
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Flame Tree Barbecue
- Tamu Tamu Refreshments
You can download a PDF copy of the coupon here (link). You can print off as many copies of the coupon as you wish, but you must surrender a copy with each transaction. If you don't print off enough copies, don't fret. According to Disney, more copies of the coupon will be available in the Times Guide, at the bottom of some merchandise receipts, and at the bottom of receipts from some quick-service restaurants.
Note that the coupon can't be combined with any other offer or promotion, and that the discount does not include taxes, gratuities or alcohol.
If you're heading West instead, don't worry; the offer is also being made at the Disneyland Resort as well, with a separate voucher. That coupon is available here (link).
With the approach of some of the busiest days of the year, Walt Disney World and the Service Trades Council Union (STCU) have extended their existing contract through January 20, 2011. It had been set to expire on December 11. According to a statement on the STCU website, "The Council met with the Company and a Federal Mediator. Proposals were exchanged, but we were unable to reach agreement. The Council has requested more information to assist in making additional proposals and plans to schedule future discussions."
However, there seems to be a further breakdown in solidarity between the STCU's six member unions. There had already been some cracks showing at the time of the first contract ratification vote back in October. At that time, three of the member unions (UNITE HERE Local 362, Teamsters Local 385 and Local 1625) recommended a "no" vote against the contract, two (International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees Local 631 and SEIU Local 737) recommended a "yes" vote, and the sixth (Transportation Communications International Union Local 1908) took a neutral stance. According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel (link), SEIU Local 737, TCIU Local 1908 and IATSE Local 631 are now pushing for another contract ratification vote on the original offer, while UNITE HERE Local 362, Teamsters Local 385 and Local 1625 are refusing.
It seems that the problem is that the three unions in favor of the contract may have better deals in the proposal than the other three, as Disney has differing wage incentives based on demand for the position, and the needs of the unions are not lining up evenly. Has the time come for the STCU to split up? Obviously, that would be in Disney's favor, as fewer employees represented equals less power, and may even be the reason for Disney's contract proposal. Breaking up the bargaining unit that covers 20,000 employees would give Disney a much stronger hand in future contract negotiations.
In some cases, employees' entire pay raise would be nearly consumed by their increase in health care costs. For example, an attractions host or hostess with less than two years with the company currently makes $7.75. At the end of the contract, then with five years of experience, they would be making $8.93 an hour. However, if they have a wife and child, their health insurance premiums would go up $38 per week, or approximately 96 cents per hour, compared to their $1.18 per hour raise, for a net increase of 22 cents per hour (or approximately $457) after 42 months.
It is expected that the two sides will resume negotiation after the holiday season ends on January 3.
When the federal government redistributed funding for high-speed rail originally targeted for Wisconsin and Ohio, it increased the future ability of guests to travel from the Tampa area to Walt Disney World. The $342 million directed to Florida (out of the $1.2 billion turned down by the governors of Wisconsin and Ohio) is the last part of the funding for the $2.7 billion project to connect Orlando and Tampa by a high-speed rail corridor to be built largely along the median of Interstate 4. About 90 percent of the funding comes from the federal government, with the last 10 percent coming in installments from the state of Florida.
Construction of the 84-mile track would begin in 2012, with completing targeted for 2015. The train would run between Orlando International Airport and just outside downtown Tampa, with additional stops at the Orange County Convention Center, Walt Disney World, and in Lakeland. The train would cut a 90-minute drive to a 44-minute ride, and might increase travel to Walt Disney World from Tampa.
The funding was turned down by Wisconsin and Ohio because it was felt that the trains would not be economically feasible for their states. The money was redistributed to 14 other states, including Florida. The go-ahead for the project is awaiting approval from Florida Governor-elect Rick Scott. There are hopes to build a second high-speed rail line between Orlando and Miami, if funding becomes available.
Pollo Campero officially opens
Jeff Kober reports:
Levy Restaurants just opened a Pollo Campero location at Downtown Disney in the space previously occupied by McDonalds. A press event was held on Friday, December 10. If Levy Restaurants sounds familiar, they manage and/or operate several restaurants in Downtown Disney already, such as Wolfgang Puck Cafe, Portobello, and Fulton's Crab House. This Pollo Campero is unique in that it is somewhat of a food court within. Not only does it offer the its legendary chicken, rice and beans, but it offers a salad and wrap concept known as Fresh A-Peel; a cookies & cupcakes location known as Erin McKenna's BabyCakes NYC; and also a bar that serves a variety of beverages both inside and outside of the restaurant.
Jeff plans a full review of the new dining location in the near future.
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
- Magic Kingdom Fantasyland Forest Expansion Restaurant & Cottage #1 – exterior rockwork package.
- Magic Kingdom Tom Sawyer Island Service Dock – roof repairs.
- Magic Kingdom Westward Ho food kiosk – roof replacement.
- Epcot Spaceship Earth area – general construction work.
- Epcot Soarin' third floor mechanical rooms – general construction work.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Take 5 Cafeteria – restroom refurbishment.
- Blizzard Beach entrance buildings, Polar Pub Bar – roof replacements.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace Disney Pin Traders, Pearl Factory & Artists Kiosk – roof replacement.
- Contemporary Resort The Wave Restaurant kitchen – mechanical work.
…When the Disney Dream launches, the Disney character breakfast will not be offered. There is no word at this time on whether it will be added in the future.
…Temperatures in Florida were so cold that Blizzard Beach was closed for a couple of days.
…The PGA Tour is moving the Fall Series earlier in the year, before its Asian swing, which will shift the Childrens Miracle Network Classic at Walt Disney World to October 17-23, 2011. With the tourney coming prior to the Pacific travel, more top players may be willing to play the tourney. Last year, because it came on the heels of a tournament in China, only one player attempted the Disney tourney. Rickie Fowler played due to his attempt to win the $1 million Kodak Challenge. Fowler finished one stroke behind Troy Merritt in the Challenge. In 2011, the tourney will follow the McGladrey Classic in St. Simons Island, Georgia, and just prior to the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Selangor, Malaysia.
…Registration is now open for the Champion 5K at during ESPN The Weekend (link). Sign up now!
…The 2011 Disney's Princess Half Marathon is 75 percent full for individual and team registrations. You can register at the official event web site (link).
…The 2011 Walt Disney World Marathon is 98 percent full. Completely full are the Half Marathon, Goofy's Race-and-a-Half Challenge, the Buzz & Woody's Best Friends 5K, and Mickey's Marathon Kids' Fest. If you’re interested in participating in the marathon, you're running out of time! You can register at the official Walt Disney World Marathon Web site (link).
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- December 14, 16, 17 and 19. Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party (link).
- January 6–9, 2011: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (link).
- January 14–17, 2011: UCA College Cheerleading and Dance Team National Championship (link).
- February 7 to March 31, 2011: Atlanta Braves Spring Training (link).
- February 11–15, 2011: UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship (link).
- February 25–27, 2011: Disney’s Princess Half Marathon (link).
- March 2 to May 15, 2011: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
- March 3–6, 2011: ESPN The Weekend (link).
- March 12–13, 2011: UCA National All-Star Cheerleading Championship (link).
- April 28 to May 2, 2011: USASF Cheerleading and Dance Worlds (link).
- April 29, 30, May 6, 7: Grad Nites (link).
- September 30, October 1: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend.
- September 30 to November 31: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
- Ariel's Grotto – closed permanently to make way for the Fantasyland Forest makeover.
- Pooh's Playful Spot – closed permanently to make way for the Fantasyland Forest makeover.
- Scuttle's Landing – closed permanently to make way for the Fantasyland Forest makeover.
- Mickey's Magical Milestones Tour – discontinued, effective November 23.
- Splash Mountain – closed for refurbishment January 3–31, 2011.
- Liberty Square Riverboat – closed for refurbishment January 29–February 4, 2011.
- No known scheduled closures.
- Star Tours – closed for refurbishment through May 16, 2011.
- Studio Backlot Tour – closed for refurbishment January 3-29, 2011.
- Honey I Shrunk The Kids Movie Set Adventure – closed for refurbishment January 3-29, 2011.
- Playhouse Disney-Live on Stage! – closed for refurbishment January 30 - March 5, 2011. A new segment will be added, and the show will be rebranded from Playhouse Disney to Disney Junior.
- Block Party Bash Parade – final performance January 1; Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! begins performances January 16, 2011.
- Kali River Rapids – closed for refurbishment January 3–29, 2011.
- Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment January 17 through April 5, 2011.
- BoardWalk Resort – Kouzzina by Cat Cora closed for refurbishment November 29 to December 14.
- Saratoga Springs Resort – Paddock Leisure Pool closed November 29, 2010 to June 29, 2011, for expansion into a new feature pool, wet play area, and quick-service eatery. During the renovations, the Paddock bus stop and laundry facility will also be closed. Guests can use the High Rock Spring pool near the Carriage House or the leisure pools at Congress Park or The Grandstand. Nearby bus stops can be found at The Springs, Congress Park and The Carousel. Alternate laundry facilities are located at The Springs and Congress Park.
- Coronado Springs Resort – Cabanas Leisure Pool closed for refurbishment January 3–28, 2011.
- Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – The main slide and kiddie slide at Stormalong Bay are closed from January 3 through mid-February, 2011. Guests that wish to use have a pool slide as part of their resort pool experience can use the Luna Park pool at the BoardWalk Resort.
- Polynesian Resort – Leisure Pool closed for refurbishment January 10–February 18, 2011.
- 'Ohana – closed from January 17–20, 2011, reopens for dinner on January 20, 2011.
- BoardWalk Resort – the Keister Coaster slide at the Luna Park pool will be closed from February 7 through mid-March, 2011. Guests that wish to use have a pool slide as part of their resort pool experience can use the Stormalong Bay pool at the Yacht & Beach Club Resorts.
- Typhoon Lagoon – closed October 31, 2010 through January 15, 2011 for annual refurbishment.
- Blizzard Beach – closed January 16, 2011 through March 26, 2011 for annual refurbishment.
- Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
- Pollo Campero at Downtown Disney – now open on the site of the former McDonald's.
Room-only discounts now available through mid-April
Discounts of 15-35 percent are available for room-only reservations for stays at Walt Disney World for most nights February 17 – April 16, 2011. Time is of the essence in making your reservation, though, as rates vary depending not only upon your dates of travel and the resort category at which you are staying, but also the date that you make your reservation. Discounts are 5 percentage points lower if you book by the end of the year.
|Resort category||Book by 12/31/10||Book 1/1/11–2/13/11|
|Value resorts||20 percent off||15 percent off|
|Moderate resorts, including Fort Wilderness Cabins||25 percent off||20 percent off|
|Deluxe Resorts *||20-35 percent off||15-25 percent off|
|Deluxe Villa Resorts||35 percent off||30 percent off|
* Note: Animal Kingdom Lodge is 20 percent off if booked by the end of the year or 15 percent off if booked between January 1 and February 13, 2011. Polynesian Resort is 25 percent off if booked by the end of the year or 20 percent off if booked between January 1 and February 13, 2011.
Deals are also available for January 2 – February 16, 2011. Discount percentages appear to match those for the other dates.
You can book the deal from now through February 13, 2011, with the deeper discount available for reservations made by December 31, 2010. Note that the rooms may go fast. The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.
Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7678, or your travel agent and using booking code XV9. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Passholder discounts now available through mid-April
Passholders can save 32 to 42 percent off their room rates for stays at Walt Disney World for most nights February 6 – April 16, 2011. Rates vary depending on your dates of travel and the resort category at which you are staying:
- Value resorts – 32 percent off
- Moderate resorts, including Fort Wilderness Cabins – 35 percent off
- Deluxe Resorts – 32-42 percent off
(Note: Animal Kingdom Lodge and Polynesian Resort are 32 percent off)
- Deluxe Villa Resorts – 42 percent off
Deals are also available for January 2 – February 5, 2011. Discount percentages appear to match those for the other dates.
You can book the deal from now through your day of arrival, through the rooms may go fast. The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Suites and 3-bedroom Grand Villas are not included. An adult passholder must show their pass at check-in. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals.
Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7939, or your travel agent and using booking code AU6. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Passholder discounts through December 25, 2010
Passholders can save 30 to 42 percent off their room rates for stays at Walt Disney World from October through the end of the year. Rates vary depending on your dates of travel and the resort category at which you are staying.
For any stay from October 3 through December 25 (except for the Thanksgiving weekend of November 24-26), you get some great discounts:
- Value resorts plus Animal Kingdom Lodge – 30 percent off
- Moderate resorts, including Fort Wilderness Cabins, plus Grand Floridian Resort – 35 percent off
- Remaining Deluxe Resorts – 42 percent off
- Deluxe Villa Resorts – 42 percent off
You can book the deal from now through your day of arrival, through the rooms may go fast. The number of rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7420, or your travel agent and using booking code XO7. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Free dining is back, with the same split-level implementation as has been the case recently. Those staying at value resorts will get the Quick Service Dining Plan for free, while those in moderate, deluxe and deluxe villa accommodations will get the standard Disney Dining Plan for free. Free dining is available on select dates from this October through next September:
- November 27 to December 2
- December 10–21
- January 1–5
- January 9–13
- January 21 to February 3
- February 11–17
- February 25 to March 3
- May 27 to June 2
- August 19 to September 29
You must book free dining by December 20. The rooms available at these rates is limited. Minimum length of stay requirements may apply for Friday or Saturday arrivals. Reservations may be booked through the Walt Disney World Web site (link), by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7926, or your travel agent and using booking code NL7. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Military ticket offer
From now through September 28, 2011, 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 October 1, 2011. The tickets may not be used at all Walt Disney World theme parks and other gated attractions on the following blockout dates: December 27-31, 2010 and April 17-23, 2011. Additionally, the tickets may not be used at the Magic Kingdom on July 4, 2011.
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 six tickets may be purchased by any eligible member of the U.S. military (or their spouse, but not both) for themselves, family members, and friends, and all tickets must be purchased at the same time. If the immediate family has more than five dependants, additional tickets may be purchased for the dependants, however, additional tickets for guests may not be purchased. 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 or participating U.S. military base ticket offices.
Kids sail free on certain 7-night cruises
Children ages 17 and under traveling with two full-fare Guests in the same stateroom sail free on most 7-Night Caribbean cruises from January 8, 2011 through March 5, 2011, excluding the February 19, 2011 sailing.
There are some restrictions and exclusions. The discount applies only to verandah staterooms (except concierge and suites), and it cannot be combined with any onboard credit discounts. Taxes and fees are also not included for the free children.
The number of cabins available at these rates is limited. Reservations may be booked through the Disney Cruise Line Web site (link), by calling Disney Cruise Line at 800-951-3532, or your travel agent and using booking code KFO. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com (link), Small World Vacations (link) and Get Away Today (link).
Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here.