WDW Refurb Update: Studio Backlot Tour, HISTK Playground Closures in September

The official Walt Disney World website has begun listing closures for both the ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure’ and the ‘Studio Backlot Tour’ beginning on September 4, 2011 and re-opening on September 25.

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Victoria & Albert’s Receives Twelfth Consecutive AAA Five-Diamond Award

Chef Scott Hunnel from Victoria & Albert'sFor the 12th consecutive year, Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’ Grand Floridian Resort & Spa has been awarded the coveted AAA Five-Diamond Award. Victoria & Albert’s is the only restaurant in Orlando and one of only three in Florida to be honored with the highest accolade a restaurant can achieve.

Victoria & Albert’s Chef Scott Hunnel has drawn national and international applause for his preparation and delivery of American regional cuisine with classical influences at the elegant, 50-seat restaurant.

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Special Events for Epcot’s 2011 Food and Wine Festival Start Booking August 16

Dreaming of a festive autumn evening at the grand-scale Party for the Senses food and wine event at Epcot? Or maybe a more intimate artisanal Cheese Seminar with New York City fromager Max McCalman is on your radar.

Foodies who want to lock in their favorite events at the 16th annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 30-Nov. 13 should save the date of Aug. 16, 2011, and set their alarms for 7 am. That’s when reservations open for all special culinary and beverage programs offered during this year’s 45-day food, wine, beer and cocktail extravaganza. These special events have proven to be extremely popular and availability is limited.

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Baby Mandrill Welcomed into World at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Baby mandrill and mother

After six and a half months of waiting, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is welcoming a “colorful” addition to its animal family. A male baby mandrill was born May 30 to first-time mother, Kelley, and is the third one born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Mom and baby are doing very well.

Native to Africa, mandrills are among the largest species of monkey in the world and are considered endangered. They’re known for their bright coloration, furry head crests, manes and beards. Adults also have thick purple and blue ridges along their noses, big red lips and golden beards. Fans of Disney’s animated movie “The Lion King” might recall Rafiki, who was not only a colorful character, but a mandrill as well.

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Photo: Super Bowl Champ Kurt Warner Helps Dreams Come True at Walt Disney World

Kurt Warner and family at Walt Disney World (Gene Duncan/Disney)Former NFL and Super Bowl-winning quarterback Kurt Warner (right), his wife, Brenda (left), and Mickey Mouse pose June 13, 2011 with Kenny Bender (center), age 6, and Landon Smith (far right), 4, at the Magic Kingdom theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Representing the Kurt Warner First Things First Foundation, the Warners, in conjunction with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visited Walt Disney World Resort with a group of families from St. Louis, Arizona and Iowa. This marked the 10th annual visit by the First Things First Foundation to Walt Disney World.

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Walt Disney World and Disneyland Ticket Prices Increase June 12

Disney Parks has announced that its ticket prices will be increased effective June 12, 2011. At Walt Disney World, a one day base ticket will increase $3 for adults (10+) to $85 while a child’s ticket (3-9) will increase $4 to $79. Both the park hopping and water park fun & more options increase $1 to a flat-rate of $55 per ticket. The no-expiration option will also increase accordingly for applicable Magic Your Way tickets.

Annual passes also increase to $519 for adults and $478 for children and premium annual pass rates rise to $649 for adults and $598 for children.

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WDW Refurb Update: Tough to be a Bug, Shooting Arcade, Mermaid Extension and More

We have a bunch of refurbishment/closure updates at the Walt Disney World Resort to share with you today, starting with the Magic Kingdom, where the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade will be closed beginning today and expected to re-open on October 1, 2011.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the 4D attraction, It’s Tough to be a Bug, is scheduled to close on August 15, 2011 and also expected to re-open on October 1.

We previously announced that Voyage of the Little Mermaid at Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be going dark beginning August 15, but according to the official Walt Disney World site, that date may have been moved forward to August 13. It’s still expected to re-open on September 4.

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Golden Oak ‘Early Buyer’ Walt Disney World Benefits Announced

Early homebuyers in Disney’s unique residential resort community, Golden Oak at Walt Disney World ® Resort, will receive Disney VIP park passes to Walt Disney World ® Resort with no block-out dates, free parking, personalized service when making dining reservations at Walt Disney World ® Resort restaurants, access to special early or late theme park hours each day and select merchandise discounts.

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What’s Next: Disneyland Talks Cars Land, Carthay Circle Entrance, Aulani and More

As Disney Soundsational Summer gets underway, even more excitement is coming to Disneyland Resort, where the premiere of the all-new The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is just the latest milestone in the ongoing expansion of Disney California Adventure park. The distinctive peaks of the Cadillac Range are already visible on the horizon beyond Pacific Wharf, signaling the creation of Cars Land, the all-new 12-acre land set to open in 2012. And work on the newly themed Disney California Adventure entry gate into Buena Vista Street, complete with Red Car Trolleys and the distinctive Carthay Circle Theatre, will continue through 2011 for a 2012 opening.

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‘Fantasyland Expansion’ at Magic Kingdom Gets Official Site Page

Although for the most part, there’s nothing new that’s currently mentioned there, the official Walt Disney World site has now added a New Fantasyland Expansion page which details some of the additions being added to the Magic Kingdom theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort.

One element that does appear to be new, however, or at least not easily found with a Google search, is the Casey Jr. Roundhouse which will be located adjacent to the Toontown Fantasyland train station and will feature a ‘circus-themed immersive’ water play area. Little ones will ‘splish and splash as Casey Jr. billows off cool steam and water squirts from playful monkeys, elephants and camels.’

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