Character Changes Coming to Disney World for April/May 2010: Ariel’s Grotto Closes, Lotso Arrives

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Prince Eric with Ariel during a Pirate and Princess Party at the Magic Kingdom in 2007Although most character meet & greets at the Walt Disney World Resort are fairly standard from day to day, there are a couple of times per year when there are significant changes. These changes usually occur in April/May and September/October. In 2010, these changes are further complicated by the closure of Toontown and the Fantasyland expansion in the Magic Kingdom. Since we’re already getting into April, it’s time to take a look at some of the expected upcoming changes.

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Details for 2010 Walt Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon Announced

The Walt Disney World resort has announced the details for the upcoming Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon events taking place October 1 – 3, 2010.

On Friday, October 1, 2010, the Disney’s Kids’ Races will be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Track & Field Complex beginning at 4 pm for children ages 8 and under. Registration includes: Commemorative T-shirt; Personalized Bib (Must register by September 3, 2010 for name to appear on bib); Trick-or-Treat bag of refreshments; Commemorative finisher medallion.

Race details and age groups are as follows:

  • 12 months and under – Diaper Dash for crawlers
  • 1 – 3 years old – 100m dash
  • 4 – 6 years old – 200m dash
  • 7 – 8 years old – 400m dash

On Saturday, October 2, at 7:00 am will be the Mickey’s Halloween Family Fun Run 5K. The only 5K run to take place inside the Magic Kingdom, runners are encouraged to dress in costume (with safety in mind) as they travel along the course filled with Halloween-themed entertainment. Registration includes: Admission to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party for the night of Sunday, October 3, 2010; Commemorative Champion® T-shirt; * Goody Bag; Personalized Bib (must register by August 2, 2010 for name to appear on bib); Trick-or-Treat bag of race refreshments; Commemorative 5K finisher medallion.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Celebrates the Birth of Endangered Lowland Gorilla

Mother and newborn western lowland gorilla. Photo courtesy DisneyGuests visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom are getting a special treat along the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail where they can get a rare glimpse of a newborn gorilla born Feb. 19. The critically endangered western lowland gorilla, whose gender is still unknown, is doing well and has already become an integral member of the gorilla family group which includes first-time mother, Kashata, father Gino, and two other females, Benga and Hope.

Members of the primate team at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are encouraged by Kashata’s natural instincts at motherhood. First-time mothers often experience difficulty knowing the right things to do. They must learn to properly hold the baby and adapt to a demanding nursing schedule.  “Kashata has been a model mother from the moment the baby was born, said Matt Hohne, animal operations director for Disney’s Animal Programs. “She immediately knew how to properly hold the baby and her nursing skills have been exemplary.”

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes White Rhino to the World

Disney’s Animal Kingdom welcomed a healthy white rhino to the family last week with the addition of a female calf born Sunday, Jan. 17.  Kendi, an 11-year-old white rhino, gave birth to her third baby after a 16-month gestation period. The baby, which has not yet been named, is the eighth white rhino born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom; her mother, Kendi, was the first.

“A rhino birth is considered to be a significant event since the species was once nearly extinct and is currently endangered,” according to Jackie Ogden, Ph.D., vice president of Disney’s Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives. “Under protection and careful management, this species has grown to approximately 11,000 worldwide, with 190 residing in North American zoos.”

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes Gerenuk Calf to Herd

Disney’s Animal Kingdom recently welcomed its 28th gerenuk calf weighing in at eight pounds and approximately 1 ¾ feet tall, after a seven-month gestation.

The female calf, named Squirt, was born November 25 to her five-year-old mother Sushaunna, and nine-year-old father Jingle. This latest birth is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Gerenuk Population Management Plan.

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Walt Disney World Satellite Maps by Robo Updated

It’s been over a year since the incredibly popular Walt Disney World Satellite Maps by Robo section has been added to Stitch Kingdom and it was long due for an update. Thanks to Robo, many of the maps have now been updated to reflect changes in the resort over the past year as well as some additional maps added, most notably those for Downtown Disney and individual lands in the Magic Kingdom.

I also took the opportunity to address the fact that users needed to click Search in order to view all maps initially. Now all maps will be shown automatically by default while still allowing users to filter by category and optional subcategory.

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Disney’s Animal Kingdom Welcomes Two Giraffes to the World

Week-old Bolo appears with his mother, Big Girl. Photo courtesy of Disney.LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Oct. 19, 2009 — Walt Disney World Resort recently welcomed two male calves to the giraffe herd at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Weighing 153 pounds, Bolo was born Oct. 12 to second-time mother Big Girl, who first birthed a female calf in November 2005. On Oct. 5, the Disney’s Animal Programs team helped to deliver 166-pound calf Bruehler from third-time mother Aibuni. As newborns, both male calves stand nearly six feet tall and could grow to be as tall as 15 – 18 feet as adults.

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First Look: Thumper and Miss Bunny at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Miss Bunny and Thumper at Animal Kingdom's Camp Minnie-Mickey © Stitch Kingdom. All Rights Reserved.As of today, Thumper and Miss Bunny have begun making daily meet & greet appearances at Camp Minnie-Mickey in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, replacing Koda and Kenai.

While character changes are always occurring and usually at the drop of a dime, they’re never quite as prevelent as in October as the new fiscal year for the Walt Disney Company begins. Other notable changes coming soon are Terence the fairy appearing at Magic Kingdom’s Pixie Hollow (as well as Disneyland), expecting to replace Iridessa, and characters from the new Disney animated classic, The Princess and the Frog: Tiana, Naveen and Dr. Facilier.

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Disney’s Key Largo Woodrat Recovery Program Receives Prestigious Award

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Sept. 23, 2009 – The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) recently recognized Disney’s Animal Programs for conservation efforts to help protect the endangered Key Largo woodrat. During the AZA’s annual conference, the team received the Edward H. Bean Significant Achievement Award, which recognizes programs that contribute to the reproductive success of a species.

Since 2005, Disney’s Animal Kingdom has been assisting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in developing and implementing a recovery plan for the Key Largo woodrat, which is threatened by habitat loss along with an invasion of non-native animal species, such as the Burmese python.

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WDW Refurb Updates: Early Openings, Water Park Closures, Resort Pools, Golf Courses and More

I’ve got a HUGE refurb update here, so bear with me.

At the Magic Kingdom, Crystal Palace will be closed from January 3 through February 13.

At Epcot, Living with the Land is now scheduled to re-open on October 4, which is several weeks earlier than the original date of November 1. Also, the new exhibit in the Japan pavilion (which was the tin toy museum) is now slated to open on October 16.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Boneyard is now scheduled to be closed October 5 through October 18

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