Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update for March 7 – March 13, 2011
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Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival opens | ESPN The Weekend brings sports celebrities to Disney's Hollywood Studios | Disney's Dreamers Academy inspires largest class yet | Disney releases three new Annie Leibovitz portraits | March 2011 merchandise news | Construction update | Quick takes
The 18th annual Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival opened on Wednesday, with festive floral displays, daily gardening sessions, and more, with displays set up throughout the theme park's Future World and World Showcase. Not everything was quite ready, however, as the new Lots-o'-Huggin' (Lotso) Bear, Lightning McQueen, and Tow Mater topiaries weren't quite ready in time for the Festival's opening. They're expected to show up in the near future.
From now until May 15, guests at Epcot can take advantage of the free gardening sessions in the Festival Center (formerly the Wonders of Life pavilion), as well as the special opportunities throughout the Festival and the Flower Power concert series, which features live performances from popular bands from the 60s and 70s.
New displays this year include the partially pending grouping themed for Toy Story 3 and Cars, a Winnie the Pooh grouping, and a tower featuring Rapunzel's hair from Tangled. The annual Bambi, Thumper, and Flower grouping has been moved into the massively-enlarged Butterfly Garden, now located in Future World West. Pixie Hollow has also been enlarged, and now has been moved to Future World East, near Innoventions. Oddly, The Land pavilion was not noted on the Festival map, despite its housing of Living with the Land and the Behind the Seeds tour, previously highlighted on festival maps.
The Festival runs 75 days, so there is plenty of time to get to Epcot to enjoy this annual treat.
With HGTV as the sponsor, many of the designers are making appearances during the Festival. That includes Genevieve Gorder, from "Designed to Sell," who gave presentations during the Festival's opening weekend. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Gracing a corner of the train garden between Germany and Italy is a tower dedicated to Disney's new film, "Tangled." Music comes from the tower, and the window up in the tower opens and closes. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
ESPN The Weekend brings sports celebrities to Disney's Hollywood Studios
Jeff Kober writes:
Fans came from all over to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars at this year's ESPN The Weekend. Hosted by Dick's Sporting Goods, some 35 superstar athletes and two dozen sportscasters came together. At the center of it were live ESPN telecasts that occurred in front of the Sorcerer's hat. This is the center for what's happening and you could find hundreds of people there at just about any time of day.
If you've been there before, you know that there are certain favorite parts of the event:
Athlete motorcades seemed to be in greater number this year, with the ESPN cheerleaders (who look like the graduated from High School the Musical) leading the way.
Interactive shows like Stump the Schwab at the ABC Sound Studio and Fan Q&A at the Premiere Theater on the backlot.
The ESPN Interactive Sports Zone was larger than ever this year. If you're not familiar with this turf, it lies just outside the gates of Rock 'n Rollercoaster. What made it fun is that they were bringing the broadcasters and the athletes over to play at certain times of the day. It was there they were also doing any autographs.
Unlike Star Wars weekends, or the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival, if you didn't make it this last weekend, you'll have to wait until next year to see it.
This past weekend, 110 young "dreamers" gathered at Walt Disney World for Disney's Dreamers Academy, a four-day weekend of seminars, talks, and hands-on experiences designed to help them keep striving for their dreams. Launched in 2007 with its first Academy weekend in early 2008, Disney's Dreamers Academy selects 100 promising students from across the country to participate in the event. This year's event had extra participants due to the addition of dreamers selected for last year's Academy but prevented from attending by weather-related travel delays and cancellations.
Disney's Dreamers Academy is run in conjunction with radio host Steve Harvey. This year's special speakers included athletes Chad Ochocinco, Cal Ripken, Jr., and Alonzo Mourning; American Idol veterans Ruben Studdard and Kimberley Locke; award-winning Gospel music icon Yolanda Adams; and performers Terrence J, Roshon Fegan, Chris Massey, and Tamera Mowry. Disney Imagineers and other officials also spoke to the Dreamers and let sessions to let them see the work behind the magic. Yesterday's keynote speech was given by Disney Channel star Raven Symone, who advised participants "Don't try to be the next Oprah; be the best you."
Participants were chosen from almost 4,000 applicants by a panel of distinguished judges, including Steve Harvey, Yolanda Adams, and Dr. Steve Perry. It's expected that the fifth annual Disney's Dreamers Academy will open its application process late this year, with the Academy taking place early next year.
For more information, check out Disney's official Dreamers Academy Web site.
Darth Maul was making appearances this weekend outside of StarTours while the speeder bike photo opportunity across the way is boarded up. Typically he is not seen other than Star Wars Weekends. In character, he paces back and forth until the next guest comes for a photo. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Disney has released another series of three Annie Leibovitz celebrity character portraits, this time with a strong Tron: Legacy casting influence. In "Where the magic speaks, even when you're not the fairest of them all," Olivia Wilde (Quorra in Tron: Legacy) appears as the Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with Alec Baldwin portraying the Spirit of the Magic Mirror.
Penelope Cruz portrays Belle, while Jeff Bridges (Kevin Flynn in Tron and Tron: Legacy—as he appears today, not the computer-altered youthful image from the more recent movie) appears as the transformed prince from Beauty and the Beast in "Where a moment of beauty lasts forever."
Finally, Queen Latifah portrays Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid in "Where memories take hold and never let go."
These are the first images in the series since 2009, and the first to include villains. The series debuted in 2007, at the time of the kickoff of the Year of a Million Dreams promotion. These images will appear as a special insert in the March 28 issue of People, as well as the April issues of O – The Oprah Magazine, InStyle, Essence, Real Simple, and People en Español.
Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix reported on her blog last Thursday:
The March, 2011 merchandise newsletter contains information about the following programs, product releases and promotions offered at the domestic Walt Disney Parks and Resorts - Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World.
Click on any of the links below to open each PDF page and view full details and images.
[Note: this is something created and distributed by Disney, it's not a MousePlanet document.]
For those Walt Disney World readers who may never have seen this before, it's a monthly summary of new ways you can spend money at the Disney theme parks, produced and distributed by the resort merchandise teams. Those Disneyland readers who have seen what used to be a 2- or 3-page flyer will immediately notice that the newsletter has a much different look and feel, and also now includes merchandise information for Walt Disney World. For starters, the old newsletter was small enough that I could easily attach it to these posts, but the new 12-page version is so big that Andrew split it into pages for easier viewing:
If you don't want to scroll through the whole thing, here are the highlights:
Disneyland and Walt Disney World
- The extra Annual Passholder discounts have been extended at both Resorts through December 31, 2011. Premium and Premier Passholders receive 20% off and all other passes receive 10% off at participating locations.
- Both Resorts are offering a variety of Purchase with Purchase items, including pin trading starter sets, Mickey Mouse tote bags, rolling duffel bags and woven throw blankets.
- The Sci- Fi Academy Pin Trading Event is scheduled for June 24; tickets went on sale March 1. For more information, visit www.DisneyPins.com.
- A House of the Future Product Release & Signing featuring miniaturist Robert Olszewski is scheduled for March 19th at Disneyland's Disneyana Shop. The House of the Future sculpture is offered at $85, and a Limited Edition version is available for annual passholders. Additional information and online ordering instructions are available on the Art of Disney Parks Web site.
- A Precious Moments product release and signing event with Hideo Maeda is scheduled for March 26th at the Disneyland Resort. Details are on the Art of Disney Parks Web site.
Walt Disney World only
- A product release and artist signing for the new Look What I Got! Ink and Paint Cel is scheduled at Hollywood Studios on March 12. Several Disney Design Group artists will be on hand for a signing event. More information, including pricing and phone order options for those who can't attend in person, is available on the Art of Disney Parks Web site.
- 40th Anniversary Dooney & Bourke Collection has been released at Walt Disney World. The collection looks a LOT like the 55th Anniversary collection released at Disneyland last year.
- Cal Ripken Jr. will sign his latest novel Hothead during an event at Disney's Hollywood Studios on Sunday, March 6 from 10am - Noon. Ripken will only sign copies of his book, and guests are asked not to bring personal items from home.
- A Precious Moments product release and signing event with Deb Butcher is scheduled for March 25th at the Walt Disney World Resort. Details are on the Art of Disney Parks Web site.
You can see in the forefront that the old Fantasyland rails are still in place. In the background, there is still a clear construction fence between New Fantasyland and the old Toon Town Fair. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Up closer, there is not much installed underneath the roof line of Belle's Cottage. Beyond, we can see that a light brown coat of paint has been applied to the Mermaid building. All of that however, should be unseen once rock work and castle are in place. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
This photo shows the space between Pinocchio's Village Haus and Belle's Cottage. What looks like roof tar paper being laid in strips on the ground makes sense because this area is above the costuming section of the Utilidor. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
A Personal Appeal, Year Six
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 May 15, 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.
Over the last five years, through the generosity of MousePlanet readers, friends, family, and co-workers, we have raised nearly $19,000. This year, let's do something really special. My personal goal is to raise $5,000 this year, but you can help in ways other than donating to my walk. This year, you can walk with me. Even if you aren't in the Albany, NY area, you can virtually walk with me by joining Team MousePlanet and walking at the March for Babies site near you. If you join me in walking, money that you raise will help babies in your area to get a fighting chance to survive!
For more information about why I'm walking, or to donate to my walk, please go to my fundraising page. To sign up to join Team MousePlanet, please go to the team page. Let's show those struggling babies how much MousePlanet readers care!
With the help of our fantastic Guide Editors, we've just completed a major update of the park restaurant menus from Walt Disney World. Click on the "Dining" section from our Walt Disney World Guide to see the list. Please help us keep the menus up to date! Send photos or scans of park menus to firstname.lastname@example.org to help us keep our listings updated!
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
- Magic Kingdom heat exchanger room – mechanical work.
- Epcot Innoventions East MouseGear automatic door – electrical work.
- Epcot Innoventions West southernmost automatic door – electrical work.
- Epcot Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion saltwater basins – structural & mechanical work.
- Epcot Morocco Friendship dock – floatation work.
- Epcot World Showcase – plumbing work.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace Mickey's Pantry service yard – general construction.
- Bay Lake Water Bridge – electrical and mechanical work for water bridge control and pump replacement.
- Wilderness Lodge bus stop – concrete work.
- Wilderness Lodge wood walkways – carpentry work.
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground Settlement Trading Post, Loop 900/1000 bus stop – roofing work.
- Animal Kingdom Villas Kidani Village – electrical work for installation of automatic door.
- Coronado Springs Resort Cabanas pool and pool deck – construction work.
- Coronado Springs Resort Cabanas bus stop – concrete work.
- Port Orleans Riverside Resort commercial building – painting.
- Port Orleans Riverside Resort fishing hole deck & dock – construction work.
- Port Orleans Riverside Resort buildings 80 & 85 (Acadian House & Magnolia Terrace) – mechanical work.
- Port Orleans Riverside Resort bridge between Ol' Man Island and commercial building – construction work.
- Port Orleans Riverside Resort bridge between Ol' Man Island and Magnolia Bend – construction work.
- Port Orleans French Quarter Resort – vine removal.
…The Phineas and Ferb play-and-greet set for Disney's Hollywood Studios is inching closer to opening. Today, Walt Disney World is holding auditions for "Cletus Filmore," the "famous movie director" who will be making a movie with Phineas and Ferb for them to document some of their favorite adventures. Disney is looking for a 20-30 year old male improv actor. The character has "high energy, confidence, charm, passion, and is very funny. He also has a great knowledge of movie terms to help get the shots he wants. His ability to keep the shoot fun and energetic helps get the audience to give him the performances he needs to complete is masterpiece." Once the role is cast, it'll take a bit of rehearsal time before the play-and-greet opens, but things are firmly on their way.
…Following four days of previews, Disney Junior – Live on Stage! officially opened on Friday. The show retains its Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, and Little Einsteins segments, but replaces My Friends Tigger and Pooh with the new Jake and the Never Land Pirates, which debuted in the naming switch of the Disney Channel programming block from Playhouse Disney to Disney Junior. The programming block will be spun off into its own channel next year.
…February 23 was the last regularly-scheduled evening Extra Magic Hours at Disney's Animal Kingdom for some time. The park does not have any evening extended hours listed through the end of the park schedules currently published by Walt Disney World on its website. While morning Extra Magic Hours now appear twice weekly, the evening hours are gone at least through the end of August. However, while the park formerly would close at 5 p.m. most seasons, it will now be staying open until 6, 7, or even 8 p.m. nearly every night. Evening Extra Magic Hours at the other three theme parks are unaffected.
…Mickey's Groove at Downtown Disney West Side will be closing effective April 3. With that closure and the move of LittleMissMatched from the West Side to the Marketplace this spring, the space vacated by those two will be filled by Orlando Harley-Davidson, which will in turn close its location on Pleasure Island, opening that space for further redevelopment as part of the Hyperion Wharf project.
…The Disney Cruse Line has changed its smoking policy aboard the Disney Dream, making the former smoking area on the starboard side of the Currents Bar on Deck 13 forward overlooking the Cove Pool a no-smoking area. This is likely due to its proximity to the mini-golf area nearby. The other smoking areas remain, including the outside starboard side of Deck 12 (except near the Mickey and Donald pools), the smoking deck of the Meridian Lounge at Deck 12 aft, the outside starboard side of Deck 4 (6 p.m. – 6 a.m. only), and stateroom balconies.
…Replacement of all concrete at the Wilderness Lodge bus stop is expected to take two months. During the construction, a temporary bus stop will be located in the first row of the parking lot.
…Registration is now open for the Expedition Everest Challenge, as is the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Sign up now! Registration for the other races during Wine & Dine Weekend (Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Relay, Disney Family Fun Run 5K, and Disney Kids' Races) and the weekend's ChEAR Squad is coming soon.
…Registration for the events for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012 open next Tuesday.
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- February 7 to March 31: Atlanta Braves Spring Training.
- March 2 to May 15: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
- March 12–13: UCA National All-Star Cheerleading Championship.
- April 28 to May 2: USASF Cheerleading and Dance Worlds.
- April 29, 30, May 6, 7: Grad Nites.
- May 7: Expedition Everest Challenge.
- May 8: Danskin Women's Triathlon.
- May 15: Rohto Florida Ironman 70.3.
- September 30, October 1: Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend. Registration opens February 14.
- September 30 to November 13: Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.
- November 24–25, 27: Old Spice Classic.
- January 5–8: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Registration opens March 15.
- Mickey's Toontown Fair – closed permanently on February 11 to make way for Fantasyland expansion.
- Enchanted Tiki Room—Under New Management – closed since January 13, due to a fire. Expected to reopen on June 1.
- Yong Feng Shandian Shop – closed through April 1 for refurbishment.
- Star Tours – closed for refurbishment through May 19, 2011.
- Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment January 17 through April 16, 2011.
- 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.
- Yacht & Beach Club Resorts – Friendship dock closed for refurbishment through March 24. Bus service is available to Disney's Hollywood Studios during this time. Guests will need to walk to Epcot.
- 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.
- Pop Century Resort – Hippie Dippy Pool closed February 14 through March 11 for refurbishment.
- Port Orleans Riverside Resort – leisure pool between Acadian House and Magnolia Terrace closed March 30-31 for refurbishment.
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – Wilderness Pool closed March 14 through April 22 for refurbishment.
- Blizzard Beach – closed January 16, 2011 through March 26, 2011 for annual refurbishment.
- Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
- LEGO Imagination Center – temporarily relocated near Once Upon a Toy through mid-April during expansion of the store.
Passholder merchandise discounts extended through 2011
Walt Disney World Passholder merchandise discounts have been extended through the end of 2011. Epcot After 4pm, Weekday Select, Seasonal and Annual Passholders get 10 percent off purchases at selected locations, while Premium Annual Passholders (including bi-coastal Premier Annual Passholders) get 20 percent off. The discount is available at Walt Disney World-owned and operated shops, but not those stores owned by "operating participants" (third-party stores). The discount is also not valid on a long list of products, and can not be combined with other discounts, offers or promotions. For a full list of what is not included in this discount, check out the Art of Disney Parks Web site.
La Nouba offers discounts to DVC Members, Passholders
Disney Vacation Club members and Passholders can get 30 percent off Category 2 tickets to see La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil when purchased in advance. The discount is good on any performance from February 1 through April 9. You can purchase your advance tickets by calling 407-939-7604. The offer is valid for DVC members and/or Passholders plus up to 5 guests. This offer provides a deeper discount than even the troupe's own Cirque Club, which is offering a 25 percent discount over the same dates.
Tickets will be available for pick up at the La Nouba Box Office's Will Call window. You'll have to present valid DVC Member or Passholder ID to pick up your tickets. Please plan to arrive at least one hour before show time. This offer isn't good for gift certificates or on tickets you've already bought, and you can't combine it with other discounts. The offer is subject to availability.
Room-only discounts for April-June and August-October
Room-only discounts are being offered for April 28 to June 14 and August 14 to October 1, for which you must make your reservations by March 27. Fall discounts are for five percentage points more than the late spring discounts, and discounts vary by type of resort. Here are the discounts applicable for each resort type:
|Resorts||April 28 - June 14||August 14 - October 1|
|All-Star Movies||15 percent||20 percent|
|Remaining Values, Port Orleans French Quarter||20 percent||25 percent|
|Remaining Moderates, Animal Kingdom Lodge, Polynesian||25 percent||30 percent|
|Remaining Deluxes||30 percent||35 percent|
|Deluxe Villas||35 percent||40 percent|
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, by calling Walt Disney World at 407-939-7722, or your travel agent and using booking code TSU. MousePlanet’s preferred Disney travel providers are MouseEarVacations.com and Small World Vacations.
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.
- 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
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, 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 and Small World Vacations.
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 dependents, additional tickets may be purchased for the dependents, 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.
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