Walt Disney World Resort Updateby Mark Goldhaber, staff writer
Update for April 18 – April 24, 2011
Go directly to: News & Views | Join our Networks | Coming Soon | Refurbishment/Attraction Closures | Discounts/Promotions
Star Tours hype machine continues revving up | Tables in Wonderland exclusive special events set for April | Morning-only merchandise discount for peak season | Purchase-with-purchase offers at all parks and Downtown Disney | Art piece releases abound | Advance reservations now available for Castaway Cay cabanas | Construction update | Quick takes | Crowd update
As the countdown to the opening of Star Tours: The Adventures Continue approaches its conclusion on May 20, Disney continues to move forward with revealing more and more details about the attraction. Last week marked the launch of the Star Tours Facebook fan page, which provided five images of various destinations for the attraction. In addition to the previously released images of Tatooine and Coruscant, also shown are images of an underwater city on Naboo, the Wookiee home planet of Kashyyyk, and the ice world of Hoth (under attack by Imperial AT-AT walkers).
Also announced on the Facebook page is the Star Tours 3-D Florida Sneak Peek Event, a four-city mall tour traveling to locations around Florida between now and the attraction's opening. The first event took place at the Aventura Mall in Miami this past Saturday, and there's coverage of the event at Star Tours 2 Live, a website run by our friends at TouringPlans.com and StudiosCentral.com. The mall tour continues on April 30 at Orange Park Mall in Jacksonville, May 7 at the Westfield Citrus Park Mall in Tampa, and May 14 at the Florida Mall in Orlando. All remaining events run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The mall event provides even more looks at the attraction's details, and also displayed a QR code that leads to the new Star Tours Mobile website. The mobile website provides another look at the five planetary destinations plus the Death Star (to be encountered above the planet Geonosis), a promotional video for the tour, downloadable phone backgrounds, a look at the various characters that the attraction will encounter (Yoda, Darth Vader, C-3PO, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and Princess Leia), and a phone link to 407-939-7212 to let you immediately call and book a Walt Disney World vacation.
Many of the promotional materials have a "Star Tours 3-D" logo, causing a question in the Disney fan community as to whether the attraction has undergone yet another name change. The reworking of the ride was first labeled "Star Tours II" before being officially named "Star Tours" The Adventures Continue." It's likely that the Star Tours 3-D name is to help promote the fact that the new version will utilize 3-D projection technology, and will not replace The Adventures Continue as the official name, though both may continue to be used, much like Toy Story Midway Mania is also just referred to as "Toy Story Mania" and Expedition Everest: Legend of the Forbidden Mountain usually drops the post-colon nomenclature in most materials.
Regardless of what it will be called, the reworked Star Tours will officially open on Friday, May 20 at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The Disneyland version of the attraction is expected to begin soft openings on the same day, but not officially open until Friday, June 3.
Since the attraction is now supposed to take place between the two trilogies, it's uncertain how the Imperial AT-ATs are already on Hoth, but it would still be exciting to take part in the battle for the planet. Image © Disney and Lucasfilm.
Tables in Wonderland, the discount dining program available to Annual Passholders and Florida residents, is hosting two exclusive special events in April.
On Thursday, April 21, there will be another Discovery Dinner at The Wave … of American Flavors at the Contemporary Resort, with a 6:30 p.m. reception and 7:00 p.m. dinner. The $92 price includes tax and gratuity. Appetizers will be paired with wine during the reception, and dinner will feature an salad, appetizer, entree and dessert, and each course will be paired with wine. This month's dinner showcases Uncle Matt's organically-grown citrus. The event is limited to 44 attendees.
Dishes during the reception include Pulled Berkshire Pork Sliders and Grilled Local Peach with Chipotle Barbecue Sauce and Blackened Day Boat Sea Scallops with Peach and Mango Chutney on a Potato Crisp, paired with Sherwood Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. Dinner starts with a salad of Grilled Local Peach Salad with Odessa Baby Greens, Thompson Farm Country Cured Black Pepper Bacon, and Sherry Vinaigrette, paired with Edgebaston “The Honey Pot” (White Proprietary Blend) from Stellenbosch, South Africa. An appetizer of Sautéed Halibut Steak with Avocado, Fresh Crab, and Red Chili Vinaigrette is paired with Nugan Estate Vision Chardonnay from New South Wales, Australia.
The Thompson Farms Pork Two Ways with Naturally Raised Pork Chops and Tenderloin, Red Stag Marinated Peaches, and Blueberry Steel Cut Oatmeal Brule entree is paired with Edgebaston “The Pepper Pot” (Red Blend). Desserts are Florida Peach Tart Tatin with Peach Ice Cream and Blueberry Crisp with Blueberry Gelato, paired with RL Buller Fine Muscat from Victoria, Australia.
Dress is casual evening attire.
On April 30, you can dine in Cairo, Egypt of the 1940s on the show floor of the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular with a buffet dinner show. For $160 per person, plus tax but including gratuity, guests will enjoy a performance of the stunt show and a buffet dinner on the stage. "Many surprises" are also promised. The event is limited to 250 attendees. The event will run from 7:30–9:30 p.m., and the park closes at 10 p.m.
The buffet dinner includes Wild Greens with Sun-dried Cherry Vinaigrette; Fresh Cucumber and Red Onion Salad; Hot Grilled Seasonal Vegetables; Roasted Root Vegetable Cous Cous; Roasted Spiced Lamb Meatballs served with Cucumber Mint Raita and Harissa; Djej Bil Zetoon Maeshalla Braised Chicken Breast with Roasted Garlic, Paprika, Cumin, and Green Olives; Moroccan Spiced Seafood Tagine with Shrimp, Scallops, and Crab in Saffron Charmoula; Grilled Flatbreads with Dukkah and Hummus. Dessert consists of Mocha Éclairs, Baklava, Citrus Tarts, and Fresh Fruit Salad with Mint Yogurt. Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, a selection of teas, beer, wine, and specialty drinks are also included.
Dress for this event is not specified, so it is likely theme park casual.
To request a reservation to either event, send an e-mail to Tables in Wonderland with your interest, name, daytime phone number, home address, and the number of people in your party. Reservations are first-come, first-served. You will need to provide your credit card number over the phone at the time of confirmation.
As expected, last week Walt Disney World rolled out a peak-season merchandise discount to go with the previously announced dining discount, both aimed at shifting crowds from peak times to less-busy times. As the dining discount aimed to move crowds to eat prior to 11:30 a.m. and between 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., the new merchandise discount is only good at select merchandise locations between store opening and noon. The discount coupons will be printed on dining receipts at select quick service dining locations throughout Walt Disney World and provide 10 percent off merchandise purchases at select stores.
At the Magic Kingdom park, the discount is only good at the Emporium. Epcot's sole participating location is Mouse Gear. Both Mickey's of Hollywood and Keystone Clothiers are participating at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Disney's Animal Kingdom has Island Mercantile as its participating location, and World of Disney is the sole participant at Downtown Disney Marketplace.
The discount isn't valid on purchases of a number of items, including alcohol, tobacco, admission media, cameras, DVDs and CDs, Disney dollars or gift cards. The coupon is also not valid with other discounts, such as cast member, AAA, passholder, and Disney Visa cardholder discounts, so you may be better off checking to see which gives you the better net price. The coupons are valid through May 2.
Disney has announced a number of purchase-with-purchase deals at Walt Disney World Resort (and Disneyland Resort), while supplies last. At Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios (and Disney California Adventure), guests can choose to purchase a two-tone, yellow-and-orange canvas tote bag for $12.95 with any merchandise purchase of $25 or more. At the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom parks (and Disneyland Park), guests have the same option, but for a blue-and-green tote. At all parks, guests can also purchase a Deluxe Trading Pin Starter Set for $15.95 with any merchandise purchase of $40 or more.
At Downtown Disney (on both coasts), guests can opt for a rolling duffle bag for $15.95 with any merchandise purchase of $25 or more, and/or a woven throw for $16.95 with purchases of $40 or more. To qualify, purchase totals are based on pre-tax, post-discount transaction amounts, and does not include any amount spent on park passes, Disney Dollars or Gift Cards, or other non-qualified items. If any of the retail items from the qualifying purchase are returned, the purchase-with-purchase merchandise must also be returned.
A number of merchandise events are coming to Walt Disney World in the next couple of months.
Disney Design Group artist Darren Wilson will be at The Art of Disney in the Downtown Disney Marketplace to sign four new pieces. Wilson will be appearing on Friday, April 22, from 5-8 p.m. and on Saturday, April 23, from 6-8 p.m. Sinister Villains, Mickey on the Mound, Jessica, and Yahoo Mickey are all acrylic on canvas, with the originals retailing for $4,700, $2,900, $3,300, and $1,700, respectively. Limited editions of 95 canvas giclees are available for $400 (Jessica) and $425 (all others). Petite prints of each will be available for $17.95 each. For more information about the event and to see the images, go to the event's website.
Disney Design Group artist Randy Noble debuts his latest images of Figment at The Art of Disney in Epcot on Saturday, May 7, from 1-3 p.m. Figment's Character and Figment's Dream portray the character from Journey Into Your Imagination With Figment with a paintbrush and holding a lightbulb. The original acrylic on canvas (Figment's Character) and watercolor (Figment's Dream) are available for purchase at $3,100 and $2,400, respectively. 95 limited edition canvas giclees of each are available for $375 (Character) and $400 (Dream), and they will also be available as petite prints for $17.95. For more information about the event and to see the images, go to the event's website.
That same day, and at the same location, sculptor Jacquiline Perrault Gonzales will debut her new piece, Figment: Noble Knight. The numbered, limited-edition series of 750 cost $140 each. Gonzales will be available to sign the porcelain Walt Disney Classics Collection sculptures from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 3-4 p.m., wrapping Noble's 1-3 p.m. signing time. The 6 1/4" high sculptures depict Figment in a knight's helmet, holding a shield and a paintbrush. For more information about the event, images of the piece and how to pre-order a sculpture, visit the event's website.
Finally, in celebration of Lightning McQueen's debut in the Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show, a new Ink and Paint cel premiere will take place at the Animation Gallery in Disney's Hollywood Studios on Saturday, June 18 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and 2-5 p.m. Disney Design Group artist Costa Alavezos and Ink & Paint artists James Bonserio, Erin Magill, Theodora M. DeLaney, David Rippberger, Lynn Rippberger, and Sharon K. Vincent will be on hand to sign the cel, featuring a hand-painted Lightning McQueen on the "Ka-chow!" cel, that also features other members of the Cars cast on the Lights, Motors, Action stage. The cel is a limited edition with an edition size of 1,500 pieces, and is available framed and unframed in configurations ranging from $125 (unframed) to $290 (gold frame and cel). An exclusive pin is available with the first 750 orders placed for a framed cel only. For more information on the event or to pre-order the cel, go to the event website.
Adrienne Vincent-Phoenix posted to the MousePad Disney Cruise Line discussion forum last week that Castaway Cay cabanas now available for online booking:
Disney has finally added the option of booking a Castaway Cay beach cabana to the online reservation site. Effective immediately, passengers can reserve a cabana on the adult or family beach within the same booking window as for all other activities:
- Platinum Castaway Club members, as well as passengers staying in a concierge suite, can book 120 days before sailing.
- Gold Castaway Club members can book 105 days before sailing.
- Silver Castaway Club members can book 90 days before sailing.
- Everyone else can book 75 days before sailing.
I wrote about my experiences with the Castaway Cay cabanas earlier this year, and I'm really glad they've added an online booking option.
Send us your menu photos!
We've recently 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!
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!
Here is the listing of interesting items from paperwork filed with Orange County in the last week:
- Magic Kingdom Tony's Town Square Restaurant – marquee package.
- Magic Kingdom The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – construction work.
- Magic Kingdom Trail Creek Traders – completion of construction.
- Magic Kingdom Sunshine Tree Terrace – completion of construction.
- Magic Kingdom Pirates of the Caribbean – completion of construction.
- Magic Kingdom Agrabah Bazaar – completion of construction.
- Magic Kingdom Sir Mickey's – completion of construction.
- Magic Kingdom Castle Couture – bay window completion of construction.
- Magic Kingdom Adventureland Verandah – completion of construction.
- Magic Kingdom – carpentry work.
- Epcot MouseGears – mechanical work.
- Epcot Pin Central – electrical work.
- Epcot International Gateway mechanical room – mechanical work.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios – Let the Memories Begin entry statement.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Star Tours queue – site work.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Jedi Training Academy – electrical work.
- Disney's Hollywood Studios Tatooine Traders – completion of construction.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom – Let the Memories Begin entry statement.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom front entrance – completion of construction.
- Disney's Animal Kingdom Tusker House – construction work.
- Typhoon Lagoon filter building – electrical work.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace Cap'n Jack's Restaurant – mechanical work.
- Downtown Disney Marketplace outdoor foods kiosk – general construction.
- Downtown Disney Pleasure Island Raglan Road Irish Pub – installation of remote ice maker.
- Downtown Disney Pleasure Island west service area – mechanical work.
- Wyndham Lake Buena Vista (Downtown Disney Hotel) – replacement of gas dryer.
…Last week, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced that they are changing the merchandise return policy for all Disney-owned-and-operated stores within Disney Parks and Resorts. Starting May 2, the return and exchange policy time period will shrink from 90 days to 30 days.
…The Easter Bunny and Mrs. Bunny will be making appearances at Tour Guide Gardens in the Magic Kingdom from now through Saturday at Tour Guide Gardens, to the left of City Hall in Town Square. On Sunday, they will appear in a special pre-parade that takes place 15 minutes prior to the 3 p.m. performance of the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade.
…Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings & Honeymoons is hosting their first tweetup at Disney's Wedding Pavilion to view the British Royal Wedding. From 4-8 a.m. on April 29, guests will be welcomed in their "best princess and prince attire" (encompassing everything from wedding gowns to pajamas) at the pavilion adjacent to the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. An English- inspired breakfast will be served, and guests will be treated to displays of the Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings by Alfred Angelo collection of wedding gowns and Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings jewels. Cinderella's Coast will be available for photos during the event, and the event concludes with a fireworks grand finale behind the pavilion. While the event is open to the public, all reservation slots were filled in less than a day last week. If there are any further opportunities, they will be released through the Disney Weddings Blog and Disney Weddings' Twitter account.
…Last Thursday through Saturday, nearly 10,000 middle school, high school, and university participants from 16 countries around the world met at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to face off in the 2011 VEX Robotics World Championship. Kari Byron, from Discovery Channel's Mythbusters and Science Channel's Head Rush, was the celebrity master of ceremonies for the last day of competition. The nearly 600 teams competed in groups of four teams, with two two-team alliances facing off on a 12'x12' field where their robots would run for 20 seconds controlled by onboard software, then compete for another two minutes via remote control. The "Round Up" game required teams to place tubes on goalposts, and hanging from a ladder. For more information about VEX Robotics and the competition, check out the VEX Robotics website.
…Registration for the Expedition Everest Challenge, scheduled for May 7, is now sold out. Registration for the event's Kids Races is 60 percent full.
…Registration is now open for all races during the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend. Sign up now for the Half Marathon, Half Marathon Relay, Disney Family Fun Run 5K, and Disney Kids' Races. Registration for the weekend's ChEAR Squad will open later.
…Registration for the events for the Walt Disney World Marathon 2012 is now open.
Crowd information and forecasts are provided by TouringPlans.com, the Web site 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."
Join our networks
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Talk about these stories and more on our Walt Disney World discussion forum here.
- Through May 15: Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.
- 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, 2012: Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Registration opens March 15.
- February 24-26, 2012: Disney's Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Registration opens July 5.
- Mickey's Toontown Fair – closed permanently to make way for Fantasyland expansion.
- Enchanted Tiki Room – Under New Management – closed since January 13, due to a fire. Expected to reopen on August 16.
- Liberty Square River Boat – closed May 2-25 for refurbishment.
- No known current refurbishments.
- Star Tours – closed for refurbishment through May 19, 2011.
- Primeval Whirl – closed for refurbishment through June 1, 2011.
- Saratoga Springs Resort – Paddock Leisure Pool closed through June 29 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.
- Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground – Wilderness Pool closed through April 22 for refurbishment.
- No known current refurbishments.
- Cirque du Soleil La Nouba – performs Tuesdays through Saturdays.
- LEGO Imagination Center – temporarily relocated near Once Upon a Toy 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.
Sail across the ocean for $57 per night
If you'd like to take a TransAtlantic cruise for as little as $57 per night, now is the time to book! The 14-night Eastbound repositioning cruise of the Disney Magic is offering eight days at sea and stops at Castaway Cay; Madeira, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Gibraltar, U.K.; and Barcelona Spain for just $799 per person based on double occupancy for an inside stateroom with restrictions. The cruise leaves Port Canaveral on May 14 and arrives in Barcelona on May 28.
Reservations may be booked through the Disney Cruise Line website, by calling the Disney Cruise Line at 800-951-3532, or your travel agent. 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.
Don't keep it to yourself! Send us your news tips, rumors, and comments. Email Mark here