First thing’s first. It looks like Disney has completed construction at The Hole outside the Ticket and Transportation Center.
My pilot, Launchpad McQuack, had been drinking heavily prior to takeoff, resulting in these unsteady intelligence shots taken via the easyWDW chopper. This is the playground for the upcoming Flower and Garden and Food and Wine Festival. It should look familiar. This year, it’s part of the “Land of Oz Play Area.” Across the way, last year’s “Brave – The Highland Games” will be re-purposed into an Oz themed play area, complete with a new red tent.
RFID turnstiles are under construction at all theme parks. To the left of the walls are the current RFID turnstiles, available only to those staying on property with Key to the World cards.
The large number of shuttered turnstiles has caused waits to be long for those of us using lowly Annual Passes and “regular” tickets.
Hopefully the rest of us can get those money-tracking RFID chips implanted into our brains soon enough. If Disney doesn’t have these turnstiles open by President’s Day, they’re gonna have a bad time.
Here around noon, waits weren’t too bad, but expect backups at opening. The earlier you arrive, the faster you’ll be inside and the more people you’ll be in front of. 8:15am should be your target.
You may remember Habit Heroes, which could be considered the first example of “Limited Time Magic,” since it was open for about a week in February 2012.
The original featured some unfortunate crotch silhouettes, bad tans, and a story that didn’t make any sense.
At the heart of the controversy, perpetuated by “doctors” who had never set foot inside the attraction, were the characters. Above is “Lead Bottom.” He looks to be overweight, though his arms and legs are thin, making me think that his weight gain may be due to the use of steroids, perhaps to help fight a brain tumor. He doesn’t have any hair, which also points to the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. As far as the attraction was concerned, Lead Bottom was fat because he was lazy and ate too much. Thus, he is a villain that needs to be stamped out. And the only way to do that is to jump up and down in this room for a couple of minutes – which will cause him to turn around and run face first through this brick wall into the countryside.
Habit Heroes’ original message was basically that people need to eat better and exercise in order to live healthier lives. Obviously this is a terrible message, which caused the attraction to close just a few days later, before it even officially opened. The story of how Disney was “stigmatizing the obese” made national headlines. I received emails from the New York Daily News, Huffington Post, and USA Today, among others, either asking to use pictures or to clarify points. My favorite was from the Times UK:
I don’t know if he expected me to take him seriously. This Orlando Sentinel article covers last year’s “outrage.”
Fast forward about a year and Habit Heroes has reopened, this time with the entrance facing Vision House. That’s Sum of All Thrills on our right.
Heroes is still a walk-through exhibit with four separate rooms.
Ummmmmmmmmmmm…this actually looks sort of uncomfortable. Is there a chicken exit?
Oh, this experience has been “recognized by Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living.” That’s reassuring.
The experience is now hosted by Mulan rather than Paula Abdul. Subtitles are above.
Diversity advocates should be even more pleased with the “RENEWAL” than the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance. We have a Hispanic girl, Asian woman, white boy, and black adult male along for the ride.
Do you mean like an empty box of Snickers bars?
Oh right, the scorchers.
This was the only identifiable piece of advice that I found in the attraction. If you’re going on a hike, bring a bottle of water or you’re going to hallucinate scary fire demons chasing you through the woods. I think this is as safe of a message as it gets – I’m unaware of a National Association for the Advancement of People who Refuse to Hydrate.
Next up is “Agent Dynamo” or “Agent D” as he’d like to be called. I guess “Disney’s Magic of Healthy Living” is less concerned about the magic of safety. Put on some knee pads Agent D!
Okay, that was a close one. Luckily the “sappers” have sat him down to remind him that he should always take the necessary safety precautions before riding a bicycle or skateboard.
Wait. Apparently “the sapper” is “The Thing” from The Fantastic 4 and he’s actually trying to sap the energy out of our young hero! Charge! Punch! ActiBeam!
Next up is Agent Fuel. I think they should have cast John Shaft, but those suits at Team Disney Orlando probably cut that out of the budget.
Shaft, I mean Fuel, used to eat whatever crummy food was most convenient, but now he thoughtfully prepares all of his meals using fresh fruits and vegetables.
Armed with the knowledge that vegetables are good and not drinking water is bad, we’re going to take part in one minute of Dance Dance Revolution.
Sick moves Shaft.
Looks like the sappers have beat us to the next room.
Like the original Habit Heroes, they took Toy Story Mania and sapped all the fun out of it. Do you see what I did there? Looking at our blaster (that’s a button on the right in case you’re too lazy to pull the string), do you think ours is blue, red or green?
I don’t know Fuel, they look a little confused as to why they’re a part of this ridiculous “attraction,” but otherwise look fine to me.
In this game, we’re going to channel our activity power to crack those SAPPERS by pointing our pretend gun at them and pressing the button.
This all seems a little violent.
In the first game, you’re on your own to shoot the baddies color coded to your gun. In the second part, you have to shoot the baddies at the same time as the person standing next to you. This is explained, but they don’t repeat the instructions in Spanish or Portuguese, so half of the room isn’t going to understand.
I’m not that smart myself, so it took me about half of the game to figure out I was really a red gun.
After a couple of minutes of shooting, it’s time to move into the next room.
The premise is similar to the original.
Each person is given a colored CARD.
The baddies descend from above and whenever your color gets close to the city, you touch your card to the reader.
Like so. You’re supposed to run around the room, but there are three other people with the same CARD, so chances are someone is closer than you to each of the stations. It’s easier to just stand next to two or three different ones and scan your card as necessary. But that’s probably just the sappers talking. Efficiency is for the unhealthy anyway.
One complaint that was addressed is scoring. You’re now given a score and a number of stars for each activity. My estimation is that it’s impossible to get fewer than four stars. There were very few “moves” going on in the first room.
Then you’re given a wristband.
And a card, which seemed to confuse the rest of the group. There’s a hole punched out that you’re supposed to hold up and match against a poster in the back.
Red goes to Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Green to Mission: Space, and Blue to wherever that is.
You don’t exactly have to be a king of Disney trivia to figure out what the missing word is.
A whopping three people in line here on opening day.
So is Habit Heroes a gigantic waste of time? Not necessarily, but most people are going to want to put it pretty low on their priority list. Without a child under the age of ten, I think this is completely skippable. The target age group is probably around four to seven year olds.
It would be the perfect thing to do while the rest of the group is doing Sum of All Thrills, which has a minimum height of 48 inches. You may also wish to head over here while others are at nearby Mission: Space. The official duration on Habit Heroes is 16 minutes, which is about the minimum amount of time it’s going to take to do Sum of All Thrills. Mission: Space is a minimum of around 20 minutes, so you should be able to meet up pretty conveniently around this area. Habit Heroes takes exactly 12 people every four minutes or so, for an hourly capacity south of 200. I wouldn’t be too worried about waits though.
Otherwise, “it is what it is” so to speak. Before, Habit Heroes at least had a viable message. This incarnation doesn’t really tell us anything other than we need to drink water and fruit is good. It’s probably wise not to join the obesity debate. Habit Heroes isn’t going to change anyone’s life, in any form, so it’s probably smart not to single out the overweight at a theme park attraction where 40% of the people partaking are going to be obese. “Exercise and eat better” isn’t exactly earth shattering advice, no matter how it’s presented. But as far as our discussion of Disney World theme park touring is concerned, this one is skippable unless you’re curious, have a lot of time on your hands, or have a child under the age of ten who would otherwise “literally” be on the floor doing nothing while others are off doing something else.
It’s also a mindless way to spend 20 minutes in air-conditioning. I would guess that’s what Walt wanted.
Switching gears slightly, we’re headed across the way to Innoventions West, the Innoventions building located closest to The Land and The Seas.
Here, IBM has a new exhibit across from “Where’s the Fire?”
With the amount of foot traffic Innoventions West gets, I don’t see how it can be anything but a runaway success.
You’re supposed to watch the short film before proceeding to the rest of the exhibit.
The seating area is hilariously uncomfortable. Someone probably should have THOUGHT of that during the design.
The film is actually pretty interesting. It presents real world problems.
And then explains that through the power of prayer and positive thinking…I mean science…we can solve those problems.
Lazy. At least it looks like half their plates are full of vegetables.
The exhibit is otherwise made up of a bunch of touchscreens.
You touch the question.
And it gives you the answer.
Another group of screens gives background information on scientists throughout history.
But you don’t actually have to visit Epcot to experience THINK. They have a mobile app with the same exact presentation. You can even watch the film in better quality in what I would hope would be a more comfortable chair on their website.
So I’d probably just do that rather than wasting touring time here. But you might send grandma and grandpa over here while the kids are playing at the Piggy Bank Adventure or Where’s the Fire?
Back outside. It’s 2:35pm on a non-recommended Friday January 18th.
I was messing around with a new lens:
Whenever I’m walking around Walt Disney World, I get a little anxious. I try to drown these worries in scotch and Xanax bars, but the feelings persist: “Where am I going to get a $70 steak for lunch?”
Thank goodness for Le Cellier! Which now serves just one menu straight through from 12pm – 9pm. The Cheddar Soup is up to NINE BUCKS! American!
Here’s this week’s “Limited Time Magic” extravaganza. I could make fun of this thing until the sun comes down, or whatever the saying is, but I’m going to try to resist. Let’s just say it’s been sad so far.
This week’s “Winter Wonderland” is a Meet and Greet during certain times of day featuring four of the usual characters with slightly different outfits than normal. One snow machines blows bubbles intermittently.
It’s not uncommon to see characters in between the Canada and UK Pavilions meeting with very short lines year around.
This is the line all the way down toward the UK Pavilion. And that’s the characters walking away in the distance to take a break.
Next week’s (January 21 – 27) Limited Time Magic is “Long Lost Friends Week,” featuring the Three Little Pigs, Horace Horsecollar, Clarabelle Cow, Friar Tuck, and Robin Hood in Town Square from 9am – 2pm. I’d look for Prince John and Friar Tuck from Robin Hood along with Launchpad if he can get his drinking under control. Twitter seems to think Ludwig von Drake and Jiminy Cricket may show up as well.
The Rose & Crown lunch menu, where you could order three entrees for the same price as a Le Cellier steak.
Gloomy. It suits the UK.
Over to the France Pavilion, where all the rage is the opening of Les Halles Bakery, or the “New Boulangerie Patisserie.”
Les Halles is located past the old Boulangerie Patisserie. The old space is now closed and will reopen serving ice cream.
The old bakery was undersized and cramped, making it difficult to see what was available. And then once you picked something out, it was difficult to move by others to pay. The entire process was tres charming.
The new version is much larger with additional seating.
Before visiting, I had seen some pictures on the Internet of the space and it looked large with plenty of tables. I arrived to find a jumbled mass of people.
The line stretched out the door and wound around inside. Still, it only took 13 minutes to wait for, receive, and pay for my food.
With the backup, the ordering process was somewhat convoluted. There are multiple monitors and two identical sides with just one line feeding both. Menu:
First, you’ll order your sandwiches, soups, and other items from the first menu.
Everything is pre-made, so I wouldn’t bet on substitutions. This is decidedly a “pick it off” kind of establishment.
The problem I’ve always had with the Boulangerie is that I can’t say half of the names of the stuff. I can get my head around “quiche” and “baguette.” But “Pissaladiere,” “Homard” “Frangipane” and others aren’t really sounding sexy coming out of my mouth.
I tried anyway. I don’t think the poor cast member had any idea what I was trying to say, but when she batted her eyelashes at me and repeated “Pissaladiere?” I fell instantly in love. I would have done anything for this girl. But alas, it was on to the eclairs.
The Pissaladiere was really good – $4.50 and a snack credit. It’s basically a French pizza topped with tomatoes, olives, and “gruyere.” Freshly toasted, it was a hearty portion with a soft crunch and plenty of Swiss cheese. It’s recommended on or off the Dining Plan. Get it before something changes.
I was less enthusiastic with the Quiche Florentine. I meant to order the Quick Lorraine and either stuttered some of the wrong syllables or just panicked and said “Quiche Floraine.” I don’t know. Anyway, it was incredibly salty with a wet texture and bland flavor. You might have better luck – it was packed with spinach and the crust was nice and crispy. I thought the Pissaladiere for $1.70 less was a better value.
The Parfait Aux Fruits – $3.50. This was good with seemingly fresh fruit over a bed of custard. I enjoyed it a lot and thought it was a nice, potentially light snack or end to a meal.
I stole this picture from the girl that had the misfortune of standing next to me. The chocolate croissants looked pretty serious for $2.85. The eclairs looked to be thinner and the napoleons looked to be a different recipe though. At $4.75, the Tartes are more expensive, but delectable I’m sure. I should mention that I went to France just over 13 years ago, which basically makes me an expert on this stuff. Rounding out the tray is the $6.25 Jambon Beurre, which is ham, cheese, and dijon mustard butter on a demi baguette. Very French.
The crowding may have been due to a light mist in the air, but my experience at Les Halles wasn’t particularly pleasant. There was “literally” nowhere to sit and I sort of creeped up to an opening at one of the long standing-only tables. There wouldn’t have been enough room for a second person. Ordering was more confusing with so many people around. At bakeries, people tend to want to see what they’re ordering, and that wasn’t possible until you got up to the counter. At that point, people are trying to point out what they want, pronounce something on the menu board that is no longer visible overhead, or otherwise just stand there looking dumb.
Off to the left of the line is a window where you can walk up and order any of the drinks. I’m not sure if they would ring you up a quick chocolate croissant or eclair if you asked. Probably anything that doesn’t need to be toasted? You could try if it’s busy – only one person is in line.
Les Halles opens at 9am. I certainly wouldn’t head there first thing in the morning, in lieu of riding Test Track or Soarin’ with a short wait, but it means you could head up to the France Pavilion around 10:45am and order before the afternoon rush. It’s also a classy way to get a head start on your drinking around the world expedition. I’ll discuss the alcohol next time.
Doesn’t look like Monsieur Paul has changed its menu since opening, which means that weird “Roasted bone-in rib eye for two” is still listed under the Prix Fixe Menu. I don’t know if they’re trying to tell you that it’s a really big piece of meat or if two people have to order it at $89/person for it to be served or what. The fact that they’re charging two Dining Plan credits, plus another $30.50, seems odd as well. Anyway, I’m planning to go and demand that they whip me up a batch of General Tsos Chicken because that’s the only thing I eat due to health reasons and religious beliefs. I’ll report back.
Downstairs at Les Chefs, both of you could order the Prix Fix menu for less than it costs for one upstairs. Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports7/lechefdinner.jpg.
I’m not sure if the guitarist at Mo’ Rockin was an alternate, but he seemed to think people were there to see him. LOL. Rock out bro.
Not much going on in Japan.
If I ever get kidnapped in the World Showcase, please don’t let the Algerian Pavilion be in charge of my rescue.
This little kiosk in the United States Pavilion is set up to sell My Heritage Books. I don’t know anything about it, but you can read more here: http://myheritagebook.com/.
A nice seating section set up to the left of Germany. I would guess it will be utilized for the upcoming Festival or is just a placeholder until then.
The generic “Beaker” is now the “Doofenslurper” and comes with a description of what it is. These are available at the Refreshment Outpost in between Germany and China, the Fife & Drum Tavern in the United States, and Promenade Refreshments on the way into Canada.
Good news on the Tipsy Ducks in Love front at Joy of Tea – it’s still available.
New Kringla pricing:
I was going to snap some pictures on Maelstrom, but the line was out the door with a 35 minute wait.
Some newish merchandise:
They should start shrink wrapping vinylmation.
In case you want to hedge your bets on Mickey Mouse versus Harry Potter, you can get a Mickey sweatshirt in Harry’s colors.
Long pants for ladies. The inseam is only like 75″.
Bad news for the wallets. A lot of the 2013 merchandise isn’t that unattractive.
Hopefully it isn’t a 787.
So that catches us up with Epcot I think.