The Summer Shapes Up at WDW

Wondering if you should visit the Walt Disney World Resort this summer? Disney thinks that you should, and has put out a press release to tell you about everything new and upcoming at WDW:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – From May through August 2009, summer simmers with exciting new attractions and events at Walt Disney World Resort. The smash TV hit “American Idol” inspires a new attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios while, at Magic Kingdom, a Liberty Square icon reopens its doors and street parties turn up the spirit as Disney’s “What Will You Celebrate?” hits full-stride. Treehouse lodging is back, resort guests now can save some time by checking in online before they arrive, Stars Wars Weekends let guests release their inner Jedi, and Downtown Disney unwraps new fun – on the ground and in the air…

Summer Fun at The American Idol Experience

While guests are usually the ones to enjoy the attractions and shows at Walt Disney World Resort, “The American Idol Experience” places Disney’s Hollywood Studios guests in the spotlight, immersing them in the thrill of auditioning and performing or voting on their favorite musical performances.

Modeled after the famous “American Idol” television show, the newly opened Walt Disney World attraction makes dreams come true by showcasing the talents of park guests age 14 and older who have aced the auditions (audition slots are limited and interested guests are encouraged to arrive early).

Like the television show, fans – not the onstage judges – have the final say on who is deemed the best of the best. With seating to accommodate 1,000 audience members, the high-tech theater is wired so guests can vote for their favorite singer.

What Will You Celebrate? Adds Gifting Option, Park Fun

During “What Will You Celebrate?” inviting Disney Parks guests to turn their personal milestones into magical Disney experiences, ways for guests to customize and personalize a visit are endless.

With everything from fireworks cruises, street parties and behind-the-scenes tours to specialty cakes and in-room decorations to choose from, guests who have decided their answer to “What Will You Celebrate?” have more choices as they ponder, “How will I celebrate?” The fun is nonstop, too, with a party spirit stamping the new “Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It!” street party in the Magic Kingdom. Floats, a cast of Disney characters, stilt walkers and more “move it” down Main Street, U.S.A. accompanied by high-energy tunes and an open invitation to guests to come join the fun.

Main Street, U.S.A. also is home to the Celebrate a Dream Come True parade, a tweaked send-up of the former Dreams Come True parade with changes to some of the floats and soundtracks and the grand marshal in the lead role. Singers and dancers as before invite guests lining the parade route to come join in the celebration.

With all there is to do in Disney parks, guests can tailor a celebration with favorite attractions, favorite characters and special experiences. Thanks to new Web planning tools, learning about available choices and then customizing a “celebration vacation” itinerary – or “gifting” a celebrating family member or friend with a personalized Disney experience – is easier than ever. Through, guests (or their travel agents) choose the celebration destination – Disneyland Resort in California or Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. With a click, they access an interactive online celebration “planner” to shop the many experiences that are a cornerstone of a “celebration vacation” at Disney Parks – experiences that transform guests into the stars of their own party whether the occasion is a birthday, anniversary, Quinceanera, personal triumph or any celebration.

Now there is also a way to participate in a guest’s upcoming celebration visit when you can’t be there: by “gifting.” The giver reviews the possibilities using the online planner, then calls a Disney Dream Maker to personalize and customize the gift. At Walt Disney World Resort, Dream Makers can be reached at 407/WDW-GIFT.

Star Wars Weekends Returns to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Once again, the power of the Force and the magic of Disney combine in May and June for Star Wars Weekends, a sci-fi fan-fest inspired by the popular film saga.

Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 22-June 14, 2009, Disney’s Hollywood Studios becomes the temporary home for a band of out-of-this-world characters, including Wookiees, Sith, droids, Jedi, Ewoks, bounty hunters and Rodians. Dates are May 22-24, May 29-31, June 5-7 and June 12-14.

A giant, “A to Z” gathering of Star Wars characters – from Anakin Skywalker to Zam Wesell – will roam the streets of the theme park during meet-and-greet sessions. Jedi Training Academy – one of the interactive entertainment experiences featured in the theme park – takes place throughout the day on the event’s main stage and allows young guests to learn from a Jedi Master before testing newly acquired skills in a battle with Darth Vader.

Also featured: the chance to purchase one-of-a-kind Star Wars memorabilia, Star Wars trivia contests, special Star Wars parades, rides on the famed Star Tours attraction, and autograph sessions and star conversations with famous Star Wars actors and creative geniuses.

Event activities are included in theme park admission. For more information, guests may go online to or

Hall of Presidents to Reopen in July

A July reopening is planned for the Hall of Presidents, an iconic attraction in Magic Kingdom. An Audio-Animatronics version of President Barack Obama will join representations of the previous 43 presidents of the United States as part of an attraction that has been celebrating American history since Walt Disney World Resort opened in 1971. Disney Imagineers are also updating a broad array of show elements.

Whole New World of Lodging Greets Summer Guests

New home-like accommodations presented by Disney Vacation Club are debuting in time for summer guests. New options will combine to revive “treehouse living” at Walt Disney World Resort and immerse guests in the African experience.

Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – Treehouse living, a cherished Disney World tradition from 1975-2002, returns with the opening (scheduled for summer) of 60 three-bedroom villas elevated 10 feet off the ground on pedestals and beams designed to blend into the forest glens where they are nestled, providing Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa with a new room category.

Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Fresh from the conversion of select rooms at Jambo House (at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge) into vacation villas, Kidani Village is taking shape (for phased openings scheduled in the spring and fall) with thatched roofs and hewn timber design. Kidani means “necklace,” and the building is shaped like a piece of native African jewelry with villas forming the beads, garden-like walkways creating the knots in between and the lobby representing the ornament or jewel at its center. With the spring opening comes Sanaa, a new family dining location, featuring savanna views and serving familiar foods from tandoor ovens and slow-cooked specialties with flavorful spices of Africa.

Disney Vacation Club accommodations can be booked by anyone for overnight stays through or by calling 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639).

Walt Disney World Resort Debuts Online Check-In Service

Walt Disney World Resort has launched Online Check-In Service, designed to simplify and streamline guest arrivals. The new service is complimentary and available to guests staying at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels and Disney Vacation Club resorts.

Within 10 days of their arrival dates, guests are able to provide check-in information, advise the resort of their arrival times and request room preferences (although those cannot be guaranteed). Guests can also register the names of all the people in their party and provide a credit card to cover charges at the resort hotel.

Upon arrival at their resorts, guests visit a special welcome location where their room keys and other registration material are waiting. Disney Cast Members are also available to provide additional information and answer questions.

Meeting professionals can also arrange private group check-in at a Disney resort convention center or other locations.

For more information about the new Online Check-In Service or to make a resort reservation, call 407-W-DISNEY or your local travel agent or click on

New and Aloft at Downtown Disney: Aerophile!

Imagine an eagle’s-eye view of the Downtown Disney area, with sweeping, 10-mile panoramas of Lake Buena Vista and environs. Downtown Disney greets summer guests with a new iconic attraction in the form of a giant tethered balloon – Aerophile — that will take guests 300 feet into the air from the waterfront. The 72-foot-diameter balloon can lift up to 30 guests at a time on a six-minute ‘’flight,’’ by day or night. Aerophile made a spring debut at Downtown Disney’s West Side. It joins other newcomers at Downtown Disney for summer:

  • TrenD, a hip new Downtown Disney Marketplace boutique with urban-inspired fashions.
  • Disney Design-a-Tee, presented by Hanes, inviting Marketplace guests to personalize the popular souvenir to their own tastes.
  • T-Rex : A Prehistoric Family Adventure, A Place to Eat, Shop, Explore and Discover – a fun prehistoric environment millions of years in the making.
  • Downtown Disney restaurant from E-Brands, Paradiso 37, a restaurant from E-Brands featuring Mexican and South American cuisine.

‘’Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration’’ Dance Party Debuts

He’s the Guru of Gross-Out, the Maker of Mischief. Now, everybody’s favorite galactic pal stars in ‘’Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration,’’ a high-energy, retro-futuristic music video dance party in Magic Kingdom. The fun features Stitch, an interactive dance troupe and a DJ celebration host who invites all Tomorrowland guests to come party, dance and celebrate.

Some new details that can be found throughout this release include:

  • Renaming the upcoming “Characters in Flight” balloon “Aerophile”
  • The new TrenD store will sell Disney-made urban fashions
  • E-Brands’ new restaurant on Pleasure Island will be called “Paradiso 37”, not “El Dolbe” as originally reported

Be sure to stay tuned to WDW News Today as we continue to gather details on these upcoming offerings at the Walt Disney World Resort.

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