Disney: Wait times still high, despite the recession
After the New York Times published a story titled "With Attendance Off, Disney Is Dealing (Discounts)," a reader wrote a letter to the editor, making this important point:
Having just come back from Disney World for the third time since November, I can tell you the decrease in attendance is a myth. On each of my trips, wait times reached 150 minutes on the popular rides with all the "fast passes" gone shortly after the park's opening. Given the large influx of South Americans I noted, me thinks the mouse is crying "wolf." — Stan Pruszynski
We've been hearing the same thing anecdotally: Disney theme parks remain crowded. So don't go taking the family there and expect that the recession will mean shorter lines, especially for the most desirable rides. Discounts will draw visitors from both here and abroad.
I suspect the same thing will be said about Cedar Point and other theme parks nationwide as they ramp up business later this year.
Disney World: Be idolized
Start honing those high notes. This Valentine's Day, at the new American Idol Experience attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios near Orlando, anyone can be the star of the show. Competitors audition before a panel of Disney casting directors for a chance to perform on a replica American Idol stage in one of seven daily shows. The top crooner from each round then heads for hair and makeup—and an evening finale judged by an audience of their theme-park peers. The victor's prize: a future tryout for the TV show's next season. 407/934-7639, disneyworld.com/idol, park day pass from $63. —Jennifer Wilson, from the upcoming print edition of BT PREVIOUSLY Disney: American Idol gets a Florida home
Disney gives free tickets to our armed forces
What a great idea! Disney is offering free admission to Disneyland and Walt Disney World to active and retired members of the military—plus active and retired members of the U.S. Coast Guard and activated members of the National Guard or Reservists. Walt Disney World Resort Through December 23, 2009, receive one free 5-day Park Hopper pass with the Water Park Fun & More option, getting you admission to all four theme parks plus five visits to other select WDW attractions, including its two water parks (disneyworld.com/military). Select resorts are also offering discounts of up to 40 percent. Disneyland Resort Through June 12, receive a free 3-day Park Hopper pass, admitting you to Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. You can also purchase up to five 3-day adult or child companion tickets for the price of a 1-day ticket. For more information or to make reservations, you can call 714/956-6424. MORE DISNEY NEWS Space Mountain is closing at Walt Disney World in Florida on April 19 for refurbishment. Among other things, the popular roller coaster will have the entire length of its track replaced. It's unknown how long the repairs will take.
Coming soon: Free admission to Disney on your birthday
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts announced today that in 2009 it will offer free admission on your birthday to its theme parks in California or Florida. "Birthdays are the one occasion that we all share every year. We thought a free birthday ticket would be the icing on the cake," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney parks and Resorts at a press conference today. The new policy follows up on 2008's popular "Year of a Million Dreams" promotion. Disney wants to focus on guests and the special occasions they're celebrating on their trips. ("Celebration vacation" is their term for these trips.) Guests will need to provide a valid ID showing their date of birth. For more details, visit disneyparks.com.
Disney expands its guided tours
When I go on vacation, I don't want to be bogged down in details, paperwork, and hassles. But vacations often mean just that—dealing with airport transfers, museum tickets, baggage handling, and language barriers. Luckily, the folks at Disney want to handle the logistics for you, and during the last few years they've been slowly broadening the range of guided tours offered under the Adventures by Disney brand. Naturally, Disney specializes in family vacations where aspects of the trip are tailored to entertain guests of all ages. While the adults are off enjoying a wine tasting, for example, the "Junior Adventurers" can indulge in a pizza party. Disney has recently broadened its itinerary to include 23 destinations/experiences. In addition to returning favorites like Cities of Knights and Lights (London and Paris) and Discovery Down Under (Australia), they've added Taming the Last Frontier (Alaska: Fairbanks, Denali National Park, and Kenai Peninsula) and Gateway to the Galapagos (Ecuador and Galapagos Islands). Want to stay local? There's Beantown & The Big Apple, where you travel to Boston, Newport, and New York City. In the mood for something more exotic? How does Safari to South Africa sound: you'll experience Capetown, The Garden Route, and Kapama Game Reserve. Prices per person for the trips start at $2,129 (Spirit of America, 8 days/7 nights), and climb to $4,399 (Safari to South Africa, 12 days/11 nights). Each trip includes accommodations, transportation within your adventure, luggage service, most meals, gratuities, taxes, and the services of two Adventure guides—not to mention that indescribable Disney magic. Details for each adventure—as well as prices and booking information—can be found at adventuresbydisney.com. [UPDATE: We also discussed the program in our April issue.] Have you been on any of the Adventures by Disney trips? Did it live up to your expectations?