We continue from Citrus Blossom.
Northern Bloom takes up residence in the cabin either just before arriving at the Canada Pavilion or just after passing through, depending on which way you’re traveling through the arctic tundra that’s capped by the 90+ degree daily highs that we’ll be seeing more and more frequently as the Festival presses forward. Refreshment Port sits just to the right of it when looking in this direction, with the prickly Pineapple Promenade and Citrus Blossom behind that in the distance, and the walkway down to Honey Bee-stro and Flavor Full down the path to the left.
I wasn’t expecting to wither through my 11th existential crisis of 2021 while going over a Festival food review, but I had an impossible time deciding if I would prefer to be blossoming, as we were back in Citrus Country, or blooming, like we are here up north. They’re essentially the same thing, but to further complicate things, we aren’t even technically that far north, considering the majority of Canadians live south of Seattle. We’re also standing on the southern half of Epcot, which is the reasoning behind that strange upside-down map we had to continually flip back and forth for a couple of years in an effort to find our bearings. Luckily, EPCOT only has like the one ride. Then there’s the whole east/west thing with what is still Future World West to the right of the entrance, when east is usually the direction that we associate with that side of an area. It’s just a lot to take in.
Back to our ongoing crisis, it’s possible that citrus doesn’t exactly bloom. The Wikipedia page for the orange fruit mentions its blossoms, but never any potential “bloom.” “The flowers are in bloom” sounds about the same as “The flowers are blossoming.” But Citrus Blossom and Northern Bloom probably sound better than Citrus Bloom and Northern Blossom. But “Blossom” may sound more positive in both instances. Either way, whenever someone asks how I’m doing, I respond with “blossoming radiantly, Dear.” So I may or may not have emerged from Walden Pond on top, as it’s been some amount of time since anyone has asked about my status. “Obviously single,” I guess they assume.
Just the Goose Island beer is new, replacing last year’s Unibroue selection. We used to complain about pricing more often, but we may have reached the upper limit of what Disney thinks they can get away with charging. Instead, we may see portions start to decrease ever-so-slightly. Sort of like that bag of Oreo’s at the grocery store is still $3.99, but comes with 48 cookies instead of the 60 packed into the sleeves a few years ago. Just the non-alcoholic shake is up a quarter over last year. I don’t think we’ve seen more than a handful of price increases so far. Don’t tell Disney.
With Walt Disney World now open for a little over nine months since the March, 2020 closures, with Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom opening back on July 11, 2020, and Epcot and Hollywood Studios following on July 15th, 2020, I thought we’d take a look at the current trends and see if we need to make any adjustments to our plans based on any changes to attraction capacity, priority, or something else. If you’ve visited since reopening, we’ll also take a look at the ranked weekly averages and you can see if you visited during a “crazy crowded” time, relatively speaking, or you did better or worse than you thought.
Magic Kingdom, with its large number of attractions, and the fact that it’s historically the busiest theme park in the world, likely provides the best insight into our interests.
The following chart shows Magic Kingdom’s weekly average waits chronologically since last July:
The chart may take a moment to digest, but it shows how July and August of 2020 had some of the shortest waits of the year as seen on the left. The summer had been slower for a few years, but not to this extent. Waits then go up in September and move even higher during the first few weeks in October before dropping a bit in November. Disney was caught off-guard by the low initial demand and made some staffing and operating schedule changes to reduce costs, which typically push waits up. Fall crowds have also risen naturally in past years with cooler temperatures and fall breaks in parts of the country driving people towards the Vacation Kingdom of the World. We didn’t even need many of the traditional September and October events, like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, to drive waits higher. The truncated Food and Wine Festival probably didn’t help much, but shorter menus and a lack of Dining Plan snack credits weren’t enough to catapult waits back to their summer lows. October and November hit crowd estimates with Disney gloating publicly that Thanksgiving and the weeks following had either hit capacity or were nearing it during an earnings call.
Waits go up heading into the holiday season, but the averages for December of 2020 are right around those seen in March of 2021. That will be clearer in the next chart. With the Park Pass system capping attendance, and the fact that Magic Kingdom sold out most days around the December holidays and now again for spring break and Easter, it makes sense that waits would be somewhat equal without a significant increase in the attendance cap. We also see the usual January dip, perhaps in part because of newly-enforced travel restrictions from out of the country. We go from an average of around 35 minutes over Christmas to about 23 minutes in January, a drop of about a third.
One thing that is kind of interesting is that the crowds, or at least wait times, look to largely move in four-to-five week patterns where the averages are similar. It makes sense with spring breaks and holidays and such getting stretched out over a few weeks. Ordinarily, we’d see bigger increases over Christmas and New Year’s, but the Park Pass system continues to do a good job of capping crowds at somewhat reasonable levels. Or at least averages of about 35 minutes per attraction are as “bad” as things get. Back during the summer of last year, waits were about half that, to just about everyone’s surprise.
It will be interesting to see how things look after the couple of Easter spring break weeks end and people have the choice of going in late April or May with most of the current restrictions in place, or wait until the fall when temperatures are cooler, and at least the Ratatouille ride and a version of the Festival of the Lion King are open, in addition to less concern with safety protocols and increased immunization.
Here’s the same chart with what are mostly four or five week patterns highlighted:
Citrus Blossom situates itself on the Canada side of World Showcase across from Refreshment Port and Pineapple Promenade. Disney typically reuses the same booths for each seasonal Festival, but gives them a different name to help differentiate the offerings. For example, Canada is “Canada” during Food and Wine, “Yukon” during Festival of the Holidays, and “Northern Bloom” during Flower and Garden. Citrus Blossom remains…Citrus Blossom all year. At least it makes some thematic sense, unlike a booth called “The Blizzard” or something, that only served hot cocoas when temperatures were above 85 degrees in June. They can give that a shot closer to Canada.
This is where you’ll find the popular Orange Bird Sipper with the Orange Cream Shake either inside the vessel (not recommended) or in a plastic cup on the side (recommended). While it may now be hard to believe, there was a time when lines to order one of these little guys would be 40 or 50 people deep, necessitating a nighttime return when waits dissipated. With the late arrival, you would have also benefited from not having to lug the souvenir cup around all day, though if I had to carry around a piece of plastic for the rest of my life, it would probably be this precious little guy. Those crowds are typically nonexistent, though lines are typically longest from 12 to 2pm, particularly on weekends. Note that there is a slight difference in this year’s cup design as the Orange Bird gingerly holds a slice of orange. It seems a little messed up considering you’d have to think the wedge of cool citrus at one time belonged to a friend or colleague, and our orange mascot is carrying around a memento from some sinister act, but we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. It’s hard to look past the rosy smile and playful beak, even if he is a serial killer in real life.
We continue from Flavor Full.
Refreshment Port is the permanent building on the right as you head towards Canada. For the last few years, it’s offered an assortment of Festival-exclusive dishes for the various seasons. Citrus Blossom is across the way with Northern Bloom just ahead and the Honey Bee-stro and Pineapple Promenade nearby. You can pretty easily collect food and drink from those kitchens and share them at one table in the vicinity alongside anything you might pick up here. There are some nice tables lining the water as long as your eyes ignore the monstrous floating barges in the water.
Somebody at Disney thinks “poutine” is anything with french fries as the base of the dish, so the miffed Canadian crowd will have to take the title and ingredients of the dish up with them. The House-made Italian Sausage and Pepper version is $9 and may be the first time that we’ve seen a vegetarian option. The Starcut Ciders Cidre Colada Hard Cider is also available. The Cutwater drinks are “new” to the Festival, but can be purchased in cans around property, largely at resort quick services and Sunshine Seasons. They at least pour them nicely into cups instead of just flipping the tab and handing you the can.
We continue from Honey Bee-stro.
Flavor Full returns for another year along the path that connects World Showcase with Future World next to the Imagination Pavilion. Of course, just about everything around the Outdoor Kitchen looks different than last year with all of the construction going on nearby. Since the skyline today, we’ll leave a little of what’s no longer standing there by using a picture from a couple of years ago. And I also don’t have to paste in a new photo.
The important part, assuming you’re interested in one of the items, is its location. I just tend to pass it before it opens, which doesn’t make it look like a very exciting operation. You get what you pay for. Later in the day, the area is a lot more alive with cast members actively grilling the vegetables and putting everything together. The Honey Bee-stro is ahead on the left. That’s where you’ll find many of the tables in this area, so consider walking your food and drink a little ways ahead for a more comfortable experience than the top of a trash can might offer. On the other hand, there’s something to say for the traditional glossy brown “table top.”