Considering a Late Arrival at Epcot with FastPass+

by josh on May 4, 2014

A late arrival at Epcot is similar to Hollywood Studios in that FastPass+ is tiered, resulting in difficulty riding both Soarin’ and Test Track with short waits. Fortunately, Epcot’s show schedule is much less of a concern and Test Track’s single rider line is much more viable than Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s.

FastPass+ Priority:

Tier 1 (Choose One)

  1. Soarin’
  2. Test Track
  3. Character Spot
  4. IllumiNations (not available every night)
  5. Maelstrom

Tier 2 (Choose Two):

  1. Mission: SPACE Orange
  2. Spaceship Earth
  3. Living with the Land
  4. Mission: SPACE Green
  5. Turtle Talk with Crush
  6. The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  7. Journey into Imagination with Figment
  8. Captain EO

Tier 2 FastPass+ isn’t going to save us much time after 6pm, but it does guarantee we’ll basically walk on whatever attractions we choose. The bigger decision is which Tier 1 FP+ to use. Soarin’ makes more sense because Test Track offers the single rider line. To experience both without much of a wait, you could FP+ one and ride the other by getting in line five minutes before close, but then you give up IllumiNations. With two days, you can easily FP+ one on day one and the other on day 2 and rock two late arrivals if you wish.

At 6:10pm on April 28th, Spaceship Earth has a five minute posted wait. FP+ saves us about two minutes in line.

Innoventions admits its last visitors at 7pm just about every night. On days without evening Extra Magic Hours, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Living with the Land, Circle of Life, Captain EO, and Journey into Imagination close at 7pm. This is about a 20-minute wait for Sum of All Thrills at 6:35pm. You ideally want to get in line as close to 7pm as possible to minimize waits.

We elected to give Ellen’s Energy Adventure a whirl – an attraction I experience every other year or so.

It’s best in the afternoon as a slow-moving, nicely air-conditioned diversion.

The experience lasts about 45 minutes, which is an awful long time for people with limited time at the Park.

The majority of the time is spent watching Ellen and Bill Nye on screen, but there’s a short ride by dinosaur animatronics in the middle.

The animatronic section is short and shouldn’t scare most children.

The flashing light sequence is a little disconcerting. I am not sure what people prone to seizures do at theme parks.

You’re not missing much by skipping Ellen, but it’s worth doing if you’re otherwise twiddling your thumbs or it’s raining.

Character Spot waits remain short after 7pm. It’s 7:25pm with a 10-minute posted wait.







Epcot could potentially add a squirrel attraction to the Park’s lineup and it would instantly become the third or fourth most exciting thing in Future World.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends with a 10-minute posted wait.

FP+ might save 30 seconds.

And bypasses a somewhat cool queue. If you’re interested in Mission: SPACE Orange it would be prudent to use FP+ there and save a few more minutes over there instead. After 7pm is a great time to do The Seas and Turtle Walk with Crush, which runs through 9pm.

Weeeeeeee.

Garden Grill is/was not rotating, resulting in this unmagical wall hastily installed in front of it for a little privacy.

A 40-minute wait at Soarin’ is actually closer to 15 at 7:45pm.

Sunshine Seasons remains one of the best quick services in any Disney theme park. This is the Tamarind Vegan Beef with Fried Rice (Substituted for White Rice) – $7.99. It’s a boat load of food for the money at $4 less than the similar Mongolian Beef with Vegetable Fried Rice – $11.79. The flavor was similar – spicy with more mushrooms and pea pods mixed in. I’m not sure this appeals to most carnivores, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it and it’s potentially just as much food and fewer calories than the beef. Certainly a great vegan choice.

Lisa’s Oak-grilled Fish with Smoked Paprika Green Beans and Roasted Potatoes – $11.79 was excellent as well – a much heartier and more flavorful fish than what’s served at Columbia Harbour House for similar money. The sauce  and meal overall are not particularly photogenic here, but you can’t do much better than Sunshine Seasons either in terms of selection or food quality. It’s a no-brainer for lunch if you plan to be in the area of The Land.

$6.49 worth of cheese and fruit from the chilled section.

At 8:07pm, Soarin’ is still posted as 40 minutes, though there’s less than 200 people in line. Actual waits would be closer to 15. To experience as short of a standby wait as possible, arrive as close to 9pm as possible. If you’re planning to see IllumiNations too, get in line around 7:30pm to guarantee you’re off in time. Disney is purportedly filming new scenes for a “Soarin’ Around the World” attraction this week with an advisory out that Epcot cast members are to stay indoors before open on May 6th and 7th before 7am. Filming won’t otherwise affect a theme park visit.

Canada isn’t a bad place to catch IllumiNations and one spot that gets virtually no hype is the upper floor in the vicinity of the red phone booth. We arrived at 8:55pm for the 9pm show and there were three other people back here.

Depending on wind, this area may see some fallout from the fireworks.

The poor guy next to us found his beer full of ash shortly after the show began.

World Showcase remains visitable for at least 90 minutes after the Park “officially” closes with most restaurants taking diners up until 9pm.

While the stores all close and the attractions aren’t operating, it’s a fun opportunity to take pictures and enjoy the architecture.

The Wind Down events scheduled on the weekends haven’t affected anyone else’s ability to enjoy the same empty pavilions.







In under three hours in the Park we did:

  1. Spaceship Earth
  2. Ellen’s Energy Adventure
  3. The Seas with Nemo and Friends
  4. Dinner
  5. Soarin’
  6. IllumiNations

The only place we waited more than a minute was Soarin’ where the wait after the merge point can be significant. Expect Soarin’ to take a minimum of 25 minutes. We could have picked any Tier 2 attractions to walk on and could have fit in Test Track single rider if we wanted to.

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex May 4, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Thanks for the update! This is really helpful.

Emma May 4, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Oh that fish meal..Both Mum and I had it in Feb (Mum had it both times we ate at Sunshine Seasons) and we thought it was gorgeous. And the desserts are not to be missed on the dining plan! It’s really good value and boosted it from my least favourite CS to one of my top 5 ones.

Kim May 4, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Those pictures are gorgeous! Were they shot with a DSLR or with the Sony RX100?

Mike May 4, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Did you touch up those last “after closing” pictures? They look absolutely fantastic!

Shawn May 4, 2014 at 4:12 pm

With the addition of FP+, we plan on having several late arrival days. In the past, arriving in the afternoon meant little chance for a fastpass to some headlining rides. Now we are planning a rope drop day at each park for the first 4 days of our trip, and afternoon arrivals at MK, EP, and DHS on the last three days of our trip in August. We are hoping for a moe relaxed trip since we will be able to sleep a bit later on the last few days of our trip…and avoid the hottest part of the afternoon

Jen May 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Awesome thanks so much! This makes me feel a lot better about arriving at Epcot later in the afternoon.

marianna May 4, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Nice! I was hanging in Canada last month while my sister was watching the film and I was thinking that might be a good spot to try for Illuminations. :) Thanks for testing that out.

Erika May 4, 2014 at 6:43 pm

These two afternoon posts are perfect for my planning!!! Thank you!!! Pictures are awesome too!

melissa May 4, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Love it Josh. THanks for the update. The flashing lights are always a concern for me. I have to close my eyes TIGHT as I worry about the seizure thing on several of their rides. I don’t think the flash is fast enough though from my experience thank goodness. Can’t do Space though….

Tina May 5, 2014 at 3:15 am

Your site is wonderful I have used it to plan our last 2 vacations, thank you for all the helpful info. I was curious with the fourth fastpass+ If it could be booked at your morning park kiosk for the evening at a different park. For example, if I am in magic kingdom in the morning and use my 3 fp+, can I then book my 4th fp for epcot from a kiosk in magic kingdom for that evening or can I only book that at epcot once I arrive there. I am not sure if the kiosk limits you to the park you are currently in.

Kate May 5, 2014 at 6:58 am

I love your evening photos!

John Buxbaum May 5, 2014 at 7:06 am

Josh,

thanks so much for trying this approach.. it confirms my thoughts that we can do no FP in the morning park, and do all our fp’s in the evening park..
and for the person who was asking _ yes the new 4th and more fast passes that you HAVE to book thru a kiosk MUST be in the park you are IN at that time.. I guess that works for non Hoppers but not us.

Keep it real, real Disney!

Anon May 5, 2014 at 7:16 am

It does seem like the way to do Disney in the FastPass+ era is half days at the park, staying until close in all but maybe the Magic Kingdom, where Rope Drop is still essential.

PAL May 5, 2014 at 8:17 am

That second tier 2 FP+ looks worthless. Josh, I’m wondering what FP+ might be left at Epcot on a busy day for those who hop into the park in the early afternoon. Specifically from AK, for maximum rides on Everest (I’m aware of the single rider line). We aren’t looking for Soarin, just TT and, if possible, MS. Not much? On the other hand, there aren’t 3 FP+ we’d want to use at Epcot.

Ed May 5, 2014 at 9:32 am

You’re low angle shot make me really jealous.

Magic1106 May 5, 2014 at 9:36 am

Thanks for taking one for the team with the vegan food option. Greatly appreciated.

pfalcioni May 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Those night-time shots are creamy-delicious! What lens? Like it makes any difference because whatever it is, I wouldn’t be able to afford it!

josh May 5, 2014 at 12:22 pm

It’s a Canon 5D Mark III on a tripod with a 16mm-35mm f2.8 lens. You basically just turn the ISO to 100, the f-number to 8, and click shoot. A few of the shots did come out looking pretty good: http://i3.minus.com/iew7wwEXq1KBQ.jpg and they are run through Lightroom 5 for some slight adjustments to the highlights, shadows, and whatnot.

josh May 5, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Over spring break, FP+ for Soarin’ and Test Track were routinely gone before 1pm.

Kevin May 5, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Kim/Mike – yes, he shot them on his Canon 5D Mk III, not the Sony. And from the EXIF data, processed in Lightroom, almost certainly “touched up” with some smallish curves adjustments.

Kim May 5, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Darn, I was hoping you could get shots like that on the Sony! Wishful thinking. Trying to talk myself into getting one. :) Thanks for the info!

andrew May 6, 2014 at 5:37 am

Hey josh can you post those photos with hi-res links, they are incredible shots

andrew May 6, 2014 at 5:38 am

and I want to steal them for my desktop background

Pete May 6, 2014 at 6:38 am

Is Agent P still available?
My kids loved it when we were there in 2012

You get a scanner to walk round the worlds with.
Each world has “tasks” to carry out which cause feedback from props in each country

It was things like curtains opening to reveal a password that when you type in to the phonebox that cause the monkey in the tree to swing around and knock an apple down – it’s very da vinci code for kids

We found it a great idea to collect and use after illuminations whilst it was quiet – beats queuing to exit

Tracy May 6, 2014 at 8:47 am

Awesome photos!!!!!

Steph May 6, 2014 at 9:54 am

My kids loved doing Agent P April 2014. It is a great way for kids to explore the world showcase.

Sarah May 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm

Is Garden Grill rotating again?

Brian B May 7, 2014 at 8:01 pm

These photos are getting brickeresque

Abharmagic May 8, 2014 at 5:15 am

Too funny about the squirrell. When I was a kid we had neighbors who had visitors from both England and Spain and both families were enamored by the squirrells. Are they rare in other countries? To me they are bushy tailed rats!

dusty cheatham May 10, 2014 at 4:32 am

thanks for the info about Canada & the fireworks . after 100 plus visits to the ” world” I learn something from your site all the time . but then I guess that is why you are going to be a NEW YORK TIMES best selling author

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