||In This Newsletter
From the Authors: Shared Dreams
Travel Feature: New Attractions At Universal Orlando
Disney Feature: Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas
Updates: What's New and Changed
Tips: Bring Bags, Land and Sea Suggestions, Sharing The Magic
Captain's Corner: Curtsies to Cinderella
PassPorter PhotoPick: The Smiley Face Over Magic Kingdom
Q&A: How is the bus service from All Star Music?
Our Sponsors: We Recommend...
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Registration has begun for the 2009 Walt Disney World Marathon, Half Marathon and Goofy's Race-and-a-Half Challenge to be held January 8 - 11, 2009. The Challenge is already more than halfway sold out so act quickly!
What's New and Changed
Here are a few items of relevant news:
Spaceship Earth is currently open but will be closed February 9 - 14. The official re-opening will be on February 18.
On February 1, 2008, the fifth anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia accident, the Astronauts Memorial Foundation will hold a memorial ceremony in honor of the crew of the Columbia. The ceremony is to be held at 10:00 am at the Space Mirror Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The ceremony is open to the public.
Our thanks to AllEars.net and MousePlanet.com from which we get some of our news leads.
Hear some news? Be a "PassPorter Reporter" and send it to us!
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From Fellow Readers
Our readers deliver a wealth of information! Here are the winners in this month's tip contest:
"We always carry small sandwich size ziplock bags in our 'fanny pack' while touring the parks. They take up little to no room and we have found more uses than you can imagine for these little bags; from holding stickers and trinkets the cast members hand out, pretty pebbles or leaves, safe keeping of an earring that has lost it's back, napkins, extra ketchup packets, to being what we originally intended the ziplock for - a waterproof carrier for our camera on the water rides. We also have given bags to other guests standing in line so that they can protect their camera's on the water rides as well."
-- contributed by Tracey S.
LAND AND SEA SUGGESTIONS
"We recently spent 4 days at the Beach Club Villas before our 7-night Disney Magic Cruise and found that many of the suggestions for packing for the cruise were also helpful for our Walt Disney World stay. For the cruise, we had followed the wonderful advice of fellow PassPorter members who suggested such things as over-the-door shoe hangers and pop-up or hanging hampers for our cruise stateroom. We found these organizational aides were very helpful in our resort room to help keep us organized and sane (11 days is a long vacation!). From now on, we'll pack them on any family vacation!"
-- contributed by Michelle S.
SHARING THE MAGIC
"Before we left on our recent 7-night cruise, I picked up 100 glow bracelets. (Ours were from a local store but they can be ordered from an online party store as well.) The night of the Pirates IN the Caribbean party, my daughters and I wandered through the crowd before the party started, handing them out to other children. Their faces would light up with extra smiles as we spread our glowing "pixie dust." It was a wonderful memory for my daughters and I as we watched the glow of the bracelets in the darkness, knowing that we'd helped bring some "magic" onboard."
-- contributed by Dawn D.
Send us your tips! You may see them in this newsletter and win a copy of PassPorter!
Want more Disney tips? For Walt Disney World fans, we've collected 500 of the best tips submitted by readers over the past six years. All have been edited for accuracy and categorized. For details, visit the PassPorter Disney 500 info page or the PassPorter store. For Disney Cruise Line fans, we have an e-book with 250 cruiser tips, as well as a special cruise line comparison section and seven customized packing lists. For information, visit the Disney Cruise Clues info page.
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Treasure Hunting Game
Play our fun and quirky treasure hunting game, hosted by Captain Jack Skatt from our book, "PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World."
Here is this week's journal entry:
The Captain makes a study of the delightful details -- sometimes hidden, sometimes in plain sight but often overlooked -- at Walt Disney World and aboard the Disney Cruise Line. Using notes from his journals, he will lead you to this "treasure" at Disney with clues, questions, photos, or riddles. Your challenge is to discover the answer by searching your memory, visiting Disney, or even just looking really hard on the Internet. If you think you've found the answer, e-mail it to email@example.com -- the first person to correctly submit the FULL answer will receive a free PassPorter enamel pin or PassPorter name badge pin.
"Today I was strolling through the Magic Kingdom, enjoying the crisp January air. As is my custom, I stopped at the little fountain behind the castle for a refreshing drink of water. Cinderella was there, of course, and I stood a while to observe her poise and beauty. Just as I was about to depart, a young girl walked up and gave Cinderella a very pretty curtsy indeed. I complimented the little lady on her impeccable manners -- most people do not acknowledge Cinderella at her fountain, let alone honor her with a curtsy or bow. The little girl explained to me that when she curtsies to Cinderella, the crown painted on the back of the fountain appears to 'crown' Cinderella's head. And, by gum, she's right! I made a stately bow to Cinderella, and watched in awe as the crown appeared to rest upon her head. How magical! I do believe this may be why the little mice come to visit Cinderella so often, for everytime I stop by the mice are at her feet, transfixed by her beauty. Today I counted the mice and there were ... (rest of text obscured by water droplets). "
How many mice are at gazing up at Cinderella at her fountain? For bonus credit, locate the photographic evidence in the PassPorter Photo Archive and post a comment with the photo!
Send your full answer to firstname.lastname@example.org -- the winner will be notified by e-mail and announced in a future newsletter, along with the correct answer!
Congratulations to Tacey Atkinson who was the winner of last week's trivia contest! Tacey was the first person to identify the location of the jukebox as Pop Century and the Captain's favorite tune as E11. jmiruzzi was the first person to find the photo in the Photo Archive and post a comment. To view the original clue, see last week's newsletter.
If you enjoy treasure hunts, we've got an entire book with over 100 distinct treasure hunts and over 1500 questions, complete with clues and contributions from Captain Jack Skatt. Get more details on "PassPorter's Treasure Hunts at Walt Disney World" book at http://www.passporterstore.com.
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Each issue we choose a special photo from the PassPorter Photo Archive which highlights something beautiful, interesting, humorous, or timely at Disney or around the world. Here is this issue's PassPorter PhotoPick:
Smiley Face Over Magic Kingdom
contributed by TinaT817
(click the photo or link to see a larger photo with details)
You can nominate photos as a PassPorter PhotoPick by giving ratings in the PassPorter Photo Archive (you'll need to be logged in to do this). If you'd like to contribute your own photos to the Photo Archive and be considered as a PhotoPick, please read our Photo Upload Guidelines for details and benefits.
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Q & A:
With Jennifer and Dave
taymaesmom asks: "Ok, so we had finally decided on All Star Music for our May trip when a friend mentioned some issues with bus service there. She said that when they stayed there that in the mornings Music shared buses with Sports. And the problem was that it picked up at Sports first and then went to Music if there was room on the bus so that most of the time they had no choice but to stand on the bus in the mornings. Should we rethink where to stay?"
Dave and Jennifer answer: " As far as I can tell, the situation depends on how crowded the resorts and parks are, and the time of day. We stayed at Music last summer, and usually the morning buses were not shared. When not shared, the bus typically arrived empty at the resort. When shared, it was returning with a load of guests from the park.
In part, what happens is that, in the mornings, it's common to see buses shared on the trip back from the parks, since there are few guests leaving the park that early. Those shared buses will (naturally) stop at several resorts and pick up guests headed back to the park. However, at the same time, other, non-stop buses will be dispatched to pick up at the resorts. It ends up being luck of the draw if you're standing in the bus queue.
Disney Transportation has a fairly chronic shortage of drivers (there are labor shortages throughout the WDW organization), so they tend to do a lot of complicated driver assignments in order to maximize staff utilization - drivers picking up at one resort, but returning from the park to a different resort, etc. As a result, there's a fair amount of seemingly unpredictable patterns in bus service. However, there is a method to their madness."
Have a question? Post questions at http://www.passporterboards.com -- and if you're lucky, you may find that folks have already asked and answered the same question that's on your mind!
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Want To See Your Name in Print?
PassPorter News is published weekly, and this means we're always in need of articles! We're on the lookout for guest columnists who want to contribute articles to this newsletter. No professional writing experience is necessary, just a desire to share your experience with others! Not only is this a great way to give something back to the PassPorter community, but you get to see your name in "print" and receive a $25 gift certificate for use at www.passporter.com.
For details and our article submission guidelines, please e-mail email@example.com. Articles about Disney and general travel are welcomed!
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PassPorter only accepts advertising from services of the highest quality -- we recommend these companies because we use them ourselves. Please support our sponsors and, in turn, support this newsletter! This week's sponsors are (in order of appearance):
MouseEarVacations.com -- Disney Cruise Line Special Offers
Mouse Fan Travel -- Decade of Dreams Offer
ALL STAR Vacation Homes -- Choose from more than 150 homes within 4 miles of Disney World
|| From the Authors: Shared Dreams
Wow! Your response to last week's announcement of PassPorter's Decade of Dreams Tour (our year-long celebration of PassPorter's 10th Anniversary, coming in 2009) was overwhelming and very gratifying. It's amazing to learn that so many people want to share our milestone year with us and fellow members of the PassPorter community. Many first-time cruisers are signing up for the 7-night cruise on the Disney Magic, and a number of folks celebrating personal milestones are planning to celebrate those with us, too! This is going to be so fun!
The Decade of Dreams Tour celebrates all of our dreams by going "on tour," coast-to-coast and online! We're planning everything from online events with contests to one-day parties (meets) to grand, multi-day group trips. Our once-in-a-lifetime group trips include a 7-night Disney Cruise to Tortola, a 4-night celebration at Walt Disney World, and a Disneyland visit that includes park time and an Adventures by Disney expedition, with travel arranged by our friends at Mouse Fan Travel. To get all the details and reserve your spot on the limited-availability trips, visit the Decade of Dreams Tour Overview. Everyone is invited and welcome!
As part of the Decade of Dreams Tour Overview, we've begun tell the PassPorter Story in detail. Whether you're dreaming of touring with us next year, or simply curious about how we've gotten to where we are today, check out our Decade of Dreams Timeline, to which we've just added a new report! We'll be adding to it the clock ticks down to the big celebration in 2009.
Cruise Guide News: Pre-orders of our sixth edition of PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line and its Ports of Call are proving popular! A special electronic preview version of the guidebook is available to everyone who pre-orders a new cruise guide through our PassPorter Store. As of this evening, both the first and second chapters are now available in the preview file -- chapter 3 will go up soon, too. If you already pre-ordered, you can download the updated preview file by returning to our store, signing in, checking your order history for your cruise guide pre-order, and clicking Download Now. To pre-order, visit the PassPorter's Disney Cruise Pre-Order Center.
In this issue, Guest Contributor and PassPorter Message Board Guide Michelle Clark briefs us on New Attractions at Universal Orlando. Then, Featured Contributor, PassPorter Message Board Guide, and DVC member Cheryl Pendry offers a delightful review of the popular Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas. Finally, Jack Skatt is back with a brand-new Walt Disney World Treasure Hunt. Enjoy!
Jennifer and Dave
PassPorter Publishers and Authors
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|| Travel Feature:
New Attractions at Universal Orlando
by Michelle Clark, PassPorter Message Board Guide and Guest Contributor
Universal Studios Florida consists of two theme parks with some of the most popular attractions in central Florida. With the local competition including Walt Disney World's four theme parks as well as nearby Sea World and Busch Gardens, area parks are frequently adding, replacing, or refurbishing attractions in order to draw guests wanting new experiences. Universal theme park visitors can look forward to several new attractions currently under construction in both Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventure parks.
Universal Studios has not had a new major attraction since the "Revenge of the Mummy" indoor coaster in 2004, so there is much excitement about the two new attractions, one of which just opened this month and one slated to open at the Studios in the near future. "Earthquake - The Big One" closed in early November to be reconfigured as a new attraction titled "Disaster! A Major Motion Picture Ride...Starring You." This new show/ride is similar to the previous "Earthquake" attraction. The pre-show has been re-done with some new celebrity talent. The ride portion, which consists of a subway car in an earthquake, is similar to its predecessor except that it has been updated and enhanced with new technology. The new storyline involves shooting an action film for Disaster Studios starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Guests are asked to star as "extras" in the movie, and will be able to view the finished product once the ride is over.
The Universal Studios attraction currently still in production is The Simpsons ride, which will take the place of the "Back to the Future" ride simulator attraction that closed in March 2007. The premise of this new ride involves that famous TV family, The Simpsons, and a visit to a new amusement park in Springfield created by Krusty the Clown. Universal is reporting that several well-known Simpsons characters will be a part of the ride, and all of the original actors will voice their characters in the attraction. The new Simpsons attraction is scheduled to open in Spring 2008. The old Back to the Future gift shop at the ride exit has already been converted to a "Kwik-E-Mart," which is familiar to fans of the show.
Not an attraction, but expected to draw long lines is a new, larger Starbucks coffee shop, which is located in the former arcade building in the New York section of Universal Studios. There is also a Ben & Jerry's counter.
Many Universal fans feel that Islands of Adventure is long overdue for a new addition, with the only new attraction to open there in the last few years being the "High in the Sky Seuss Trolley," a slow-moving overhead train ride in Seuss Landing. So news of construction on "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" has been met with much excitement and anticipation by Universal guests as well as loyal readers of this immensely popular book series. Islands of Adventure is divided into five uniquely themed "islands." The Harry Potter section will be created as a sixth "island," also described by the Universal press release as a "theme park within a theme park." The new island will consist of a portion of the Lost Continent and adjacent vacant land. Guests will be able to visit several locations familiar to readers of the books including Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade, and the Forbidden Forest. The specifics of the attractions to be included in this area have not been released by Universal, however, Universal's official web site states that one attraction will be "state of the art." This island will also include shops and restaurants designed in keeping with the Harry Potter theme. Estimated opening date for "The Wizarding World of Harry Potter" is late 2009/early 2010. For more information on the new Harry Potter "island," visit the Universal website where you can see conceptual art, read the official press release, and browse through Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and other information.
There is a rumor currently circulating at several theme park Internet websites that Universal may be adding a new coaster to the Studios similar to the "Hollywood Dream" coaster located at Universal Studios Japan. However, this has not been confirmed by Universal and is only speculation at the present time.
For more information and updates on these new attractions, check out the official Universal Orlando web site. There are several Universal fan-based web sites that frequently post information on confirmed and rumored new attractions at the Universal parks. My favorites are http://www.themeparkinsider.com , http://www.screamscape.com , http://www.ioacentral.com, and http://www.orlandorocks.com. There is also a forum on our PassPorter Message boards devoted entirely to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure where Universal news and rumors are regularly posted and discussed.
About the Author: About the Author: Michelle Clark is a self-professed theme park junkie and the mother of three teens. Their family has made nearly a dozen trips to the Orlando theme parks and resorts, and is currently planning a trip to several theme parks in the Northeastern U.S. Michelle is also a Guide on the PassPorter Message Boards.
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Did you enjoy this article? Have questions? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.passporterboards.com to discuss your travel plans. Also check out our Article Collection for more great information!
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The Villas at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
by Cheryl Pendry, PassPorter Featured Columnist
If you've been keeping an eye on recent Disney developments, you'll be aware that the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) is expanding at an amazing rate. The last year has seen announcements about new resorts, which will include DVC villas at Disneyland California and in Hawaii, and has also seen the debut of the latest addition to the offering to DVC members -- Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas.
This new addition has included a number of firsts for a DVC resort. For starters, the rooms are being split between two locations. Currently the only ones open are those in the existing main building at Animal Kingdom Lodge, now being referred to as Jambo House. By sometime in 2009, the remainder of the rooms will be open at a new location at the resort that will be known as Kidani Village. By the time work is finished, there will be 134 new villas in Jambo House and 324 in Kidani Village, which will be surrounded by a brand new wild animal savanah. Kidani Village will also be home to a new table service restaurant, feature pool, and interactive water play area.
But let's stop there. I'm getting ahead of myself. Right now, the only way DVC members are going to be able to stay at the Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas is by booking a room in the main building, as Kidani Village is currently just a mass of cranes (and I don't mean the birds!) in the distance. Well, that's exactly what we did. We booked on June 6, 2007, which was the day bookings opened to those who hadn't already purchased points at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Understandably, the new resort was exceptionally popular with members and all I could get for our dates was a one bedroom villa with a standard view. Sure, it's a shame we couldn't get a savannah view, but I wanted to see what the new addition was like, so I took what I could get.
Well, the verdict is that we are really impressed with what they've created. I guess it helps when your room is literally only three doors away from the main elevators and is overlooking the main Uzima pool. Somehow, once we saw that, the lack of a savannah view didn't bother us that much, as we still had some beautiful scenery to admire outside.
The first thing that struck us as we opened the door to our one bedroom villa was the size of it. For those who don't know, you can book a studio, which is essentially very similar to the usual hotel rooms you're used to at Disney, albeit with a kitchenette that includes a fridge, coffee maker and microwave. Then you can also go for the one bedroom or two bedroom villas, the main difference being how many people each will sleep. Both boast full size kitchens - and boy do I mean full size! We couldn't think of anything that was missing from our kitchen, with a stove, fridge, freezer, dishwasher, microwave and more storage space than I think anyone could ever use on a Disney vacation! The other bonuses with the villas are the washers and dryers you get, which make doing laundry so much easier and the wonderful whirlpool baths.
With our room, we walked straight into the kitchen and entrance area, which immediately opened out into the living room, complete with flat screen TV, which is guaranteed to impress anyone who enjoys new technology! The furniture is African in feel, as you'd expect, and we loved the little touches, such as Simba designs on the back of the chairs and elephants and zebras appearing on the storage units.
Turn left and you're in a hallway that leads to the bathroom on the left and the main bedroom on the right. I don't think I've ever seen such a huge bathroom area before at Disney! The floor space in it was incredible, with my favorite spa bath sitting there, under a beautiful tiled design of the African savannah at night. There were two sinks, a separate toilet and even more storage space. I really came away impressed with how much space they give you to put everything away and I really want to meet the family who can fill up all that space!
Across the hallway is the main bedroom, with its brightly colored bedding, closet and set of drawers, along with another flat screen TV and a table and chair, and the patio doors leading out on to the balcony beyond.
The colors vary throughout the villa, from a fairly bright orange in the bathroom to beiges elsewhere. The colors of the walls need to be light, as all the furniture, without exception, is made of dark wood, which does darken the rooms somewhat. That was really our only complaint during our stay -- not only does this make the rooms appear dark, but there is a lack of lighting in the rooms, particularly at night.
The place seemed huge for the two of us and perhaps that's because these are the first one bedroom DVC villas that will sleep up to five people. I could see that, even with five, there would probably still be more than enough space to move around without treading on each other's toes.
Despite the fact that we were overlooking the pool and, with the doors to the balcony open, it was noisy at times, once they were shut, we never heard a thing, which just goes to show how good the soundproofing is in these rooms.
I'll be honest here. I wasn't a huge fan of the Animal Kingdom Lodge before our most recent trip. I was certainly keen to see what the new DVC rooms were like, but I wasn't expecting to be so impressed by them. They're a great addition to the DVC range of resorts. Disney Vacation Club members should definitely try out the Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas at some point, as they don't disappoint [Ed.- and they're a great choice for anyone interested in booking villa-style acommodations at Walt Disney World]. Now I can't wait for 2009 to see how the new Kidani Village looks. Perhaps that's the time to return for another stay there. That's something I certainly wouldn't rule out in the future.
Read more reviews of the Animal Kingdom Lodge in PassPorter's Reviews & Ratings area.
About the Author: Cheryl and husband Mark live in England and love to travel, particularly to America. They were on the first 11-night sailing of the Disney Magic around the Mediterranean and have recently returned from 19 nights in Walt Disney World. They are now looking forward to visiting Hong Kong and Hong Kong Disneyland.
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Did you enjoy this article? Have questions? E-mail us at email@example.com or visit http://www.passporterboards.com to discuss your Disney vacation plans. Also check out our Article Collection for more great information!
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