Playing a bit of catch up. I’ve been busy with women and the etc. Sorry.
It’s 8:30am on Saturday May 11th. As in the past, I like to head down to the far right where lines are shorter. There are few things tourists love more than a long line and they’ll do everything in their power to find one.
All Mickey Readers should be operational at Park open. Around 8:40am, a cast member walked down here and invited people to move further to the right where nobody was previously lined up. You can also see the difference in the number of people present in just ten minutes. If your group consists of more than one person, you may want to hedge your bets by putting people down at the far right readers and have others in one of the lines closer to the middle. Once the Park opens, those in the longer line can join those in the shorter line. Just in case the far right Readers aren’t staffed at Park open, you’ll have a backup plan. Of course, you could arrive by 8:15am and have your choice of just about any Reader with a short line. That would eliminate any stress over which line is going to move fastest. If you’re 15+ people back, you always run the risk of ending up behind the Johnson Family Reunion and their 47 members that inside they used their big toe the last time they went through the scanners
The scene at 8:44am when a recording tries to pump up the crowd for a morning filled with the excitement of Journey into Imagination with Figment and Ellen’s Energy Adventure. The traditional turnstiles remain down on the far left. Any ticket you buy on property would be RFID-enabled and any ticket window or guest services location can exchange your old tickets/annual passes for the new RFID media.
As in the past, Epcot opens between 8:45am and 8:50am and guests are welcome to head wherever they want in Future World. Or you could walk 20 minutes up to the Boulangerie in France for an orange juice.
The turnstiles/readers continue to work as a buffer slowing down guests entering the Park and creating an orderly walk to the two places most people are headed – Test Track and Soarin’. Despite the number of people at the turnstiles, you can see that there are only a handful of people around us. Don’t get me wrong. You can still push over children and trample old people. It will just be more obvious.
The first FASTPASSes of the day are being distributed for 9:30am – 10:30am.
George, Greg, and Nicki join us again. You may remember them from Liberty Tree Tavern a couple of days before. With one day at Epcot and assuming you want to do both Test Track and Soarin’ in the morning, you have some decisions to make. In this instance, we were let through the turnstiles at 8:45am. Greg took our tickets to Soarin’ to collect FASTPASSes and joined us outside Test Track at 8:56am, which is an impressive turnaround. The problem is that Soarin’ and Test Track are a ten to twelve minute walk away from each other. While we wait for Greg to return with Soarin’ FASTPASSes, anyone else headed to Test Track first will be in front of us. Test Track’s queue is narrow and it would be difficult to easily bypass people in line should you try that approach.
With the low morning crowds, we basically walked into the pre-show room prior to the design stage, despite waiting for the FASTPASSes to arrive.
And five minutes after that, at 9:03am, we were designing our vehicle.
Since Test Track completed its “RENEWAL” in early December, it has been plagued with the same mechanical problems it faced prior to the refurbishment. Test Track was originally one of Disney World’s least reliable attractions and the refurb did little to improve the ride system, which remains almost entirely the same. Instead, the RENEWAL added a new layer of technology, which has proven to cause even more problems. In May, Test Track has either not been operating at Park open or shut down within the first hour on six individual days. During my two-dozen-or-so rides over the last six months, I have never experienced the ride fully working. It should be no surprise that guest satisfaction ratings since the reopening are lower than the original. Most people expect the vehicle they design on the computer to have some impact on the ride itself. Of course, it doesn’t. As far as the “upgraded” ride aesthetics, few people seem to understand what’s actually going on. The idea is that your custom designed vehicle is being rated against the Sim Car, which is the physical vehicle you sit in during the attraction. The ride itself is supposed to simulate what it’s like to test a vehicle inside of a computer simulation. This isn’t communicated well to guests. For whatever reason, Disney hasn’t changed the ride audio. At the beginning, you’d think they could add, “You are now entering a computer simulation to test your designed vehicle against the Sim Car.”
I bring this up again because this particular ride was the most disappointing yet. During the design process, the computer system rebooted unexpectedly, causing everyone in the room to lose their designs. You’re looking at Windows Error Recovery. I’ve played enough RollerCoaster Tycoon to know that you shouldn’t operate attractions using Windows ’98. Anyway, after the system reboot, we were ushered into the next room with nobody completing their designs.
Click here if the video doesn’t load on the page. About two thirds of the way through the ride, the vehicle started to sputter before finally stopping cold in its tracks.
In short, Test Track and Chevy seem to have a lot in common.
We were off the attraction and back out front at 9:23am, which is pretty good time. With the increased summer crowds, you’d most likely be adding 10 to 15 minutes if you wait for someone to head to Soarin’ and back for FASTPASSes.
Here in Future World East, your other priority is Sum of All Thrills in Innoventions because of its severely limited capacity. Mission: SPACE is a much lower priority because of its higher capacity, plentiful FASTPASS opportunities, and the fact that nobody really wants to ride it. Ummmmmmmmmmmm what else is over here? Ellen’s Energy Adventure and bathrooms. Those can wait I think. Well, I can’t speak to the bathrooms. Actually I can because A BATHROOM BREAK IS NOT SCHEDULED AND WE HAVE TO FOLLOW THE PLAN.
I arrived at Sum of All Thrills at 9:25am. It’s just a minute walk through the doors pictured above.
If you’re apprehensive about riding, the options on the left are always the mildest.
And I was back out front at 9:42am. Sum of All Thrills will take 20 to 25 minutes to experience with the initial wait, preshow, design stage, and ride even with just ten people in line. I walked into the next pre-show because I was a party of one and there was only one spot left. Otherwise, it would have been another five minutes. At this point, we could have easily done Mission: SPACE with little initial wait if someone had actually wanted to do it.
In other news, Character Spot is slated to reopen June 3rd.
With nothing else on the docket in Future World East, it’s time to walk over to The Land Pavilion. From the Test Track area, it’ll take eight to ten minutes to arrive here at the entrance.
In this instance, it was about 12 minutes from Sum of All Thrills to the entrance to Soarin’ on the lower level.
With FASTPASS+ tests continuing resort wide, most of the scanners have been unboxed. I wasn’t expecting them to be themed as well as they are – this isn’t the best example, but we’ll take a closer look at FASTPASS+ at the Studios next.
With virtually nobody in front of us in the FASTPASS line, it still took 20 minutes to ride and arrive back out front of Soarin’. That includes the initial wait, the preshow video, the ride, and the walk back out to the front of the attraction. Even though we haven’t run into much of a line anwyhere, every attraction so far has taken 20 – 25 minutes. That’s important to keep in mind when you’re planning your itinerary.
Living with the Land is located about a minute away from Soarin’. Lines tend to build between 11am and 2pm as people arrive late for Soarin’, see the 60+ minute wait, grab FASTPASSes, and head to the next attraction they see. You’ve also got people riding before or after lunch at the extremely popular Sunshine Seasons and others arriving back with FASTPASSes. That’s why it’s ridden early on Day 1 of the Epcot Cheat Sheet. There really aren’t any other priorities in Future World West other than potentially Character Spot, which I recommend returning to after 7pm. We’ll see how FASTPASS+ and Character Spot’s reopening affect those priorities.
Hopefully this is a hop, wheat, and barley Mickey head for the Food & Wine Festival. That’s a Hidden Mickey I might be interested in finding. With about a three minute wait, Living with the Land took about 17 minutes.
By 10:35am, The Seas with Nemo and Friends had a bit of a wait, which is another reason why The Seas is prioritized on Day 1 on the Cheat Sheet ahead of anything in Innoventions West or the Imagination Pavilion.
With a 5ish minute wait, Nemo and Friends took about 12 minutes and after a bathroom break, we were back out in front of the Pavilion at 10:55am.
So in two hours we accomplished:
Test Track: 8:51am – 9:23am with about 10 minutes of that waiting for the Soarin’ FASTPASSes to arrive
Sum of All Thrills: 9:25am – 9:42am
Soarin’ with FASTPASS: 9:54am – 10:14am
Living with the Land: 10:16am – 10:31am
The Seas with Nemo and Friends: 10:35am – 10:55am with bathroom break
At 11am, the website’s advice is to head into World Showcase to take advantage of the lowest crowds of the day before returning to Future World after 5pm when crowds have moved into World Showcase. You could also opt to spend more time in Future World now and take an afternoon break. Or you could spend more time in Future World now and deal with Showcase crowds when they’re a little thicker. Most days, the only line you’ll find is at Maelstrom, which often has waits that top out in the 20 to 35 minute range.
Speaking of Maelstrom, here we are. We could have popped on Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico, which would have taken about 10 minutes.
Instead of the 20 minute wait that formed by 1pm, we’re the only people in line at 11:08am.
Walls are still up in front of the waterfall.
Another bonus of the early arrival – two people in line for Mulan.
I often wonder what the catalyst for change will be in a World Showcase that has not added a new Pavilion in 25 years. Reflections of China, which is over ten years old, is a relatively recent addition compared to others. Gran Fiesta Tour is basically 31 years old, though it did see a few changes in its transformation from El Rio in 2007. Maelstrom will be celebrating(?) its 25th year of unchanged operation in July. The Norway film, which is hilariously terrible, certainly isn’t making too many people other than me want to visit the country. And I’m not sure Norwegians want to be known for their fictitious(?) trolls and lazy painters above everything else. Add Italy, Germany, Japan, and the UK, which don’t even have minor attractions in their Pavilions, and there isn’t a whole lot to do other than eat and drink your way around World Showcase. Not that there’s necessarily a problem with that, mind you. But while zero new attractions have opened since 1988, we’ve seen La Cava del Tequila, La Hacienda de San Angel, Tutto Gusto, Via Napoli, and soon Spice Road Table open in just the past couple of years. Disney’s priorities at Epcot are pretty clear.
Luckily, there is a lot to see and do for the few people that actually take time to examine the various cultural exhibits in each Pavilion. One of the best is in China with the Terracotta Army.
Phineas & Ferb items have become a permanent fixture in the World Showcase. Or they’ve at least been added to the posted menu.
L’Artisan des Glaces in the France Pavilion is expected to open in the middle of June. It will serve 16 sorbets and ice creams made fresh in-house. In true Epcot fashion, adults and pre-teens with fake IDs can order their favorite flavor with a shot of liqueur on top.
Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports8/chefslunch.jpg. Chefs is one of relatively few restaurants that offer a different, less expensive menu for lunch. All of the restaurants at Hollywood Studios serve one menu all day. Rainforest Cafe and Yak & Yeti have one menu over at Animal Kingdom. Le Cellier, Teppan Edo, and Tokyo Dining are down to one menu at Epcot. Hopefully the lunch menus at the other Epcot restaurants remain.
Wine and drinks:
No discounts here.
The natural afternoon light brightens the restaurant and makes the closeness of the tables more apparent. The woman on the lower left of the frame is about four inches from the gentleman behind her.
Les Chefs doesn’t skimp on the bread and butter packets for lunch.
Greg and Nicki ordered the Croque Monsieur – The classic French toasted ham and cheese sandwich served with a green salad – $13.99.
Both described it in terms of its hot, buttery goodness. There’s enough ham and cheese going on without it feeling overwhelmingly gluttonous.
I thought it looked similar to the sandwiches served next door at the Boulangerie for about $5.25 less. The ham in the sandwich served at Les Chefs may be a little less over-cooked.
If memory serves, George ordered the $14.99 Quiche Lorraine. I thought it was a little sad looking on the plate, but George enjoyed it.
With the quiches and monsieurs covered and having already sampled the salmon and short ribs, I went with one of the most decidedly non-Francais options – The Mahi-Mahi Sandwich – Mahi-Mahi in Mediterranean bread, braised peppers and onions, French fries and tartar sauce – $16.99.
In my defense, the meal did come with “French fries,” which were (unfortunately) the best part of the meal. Thin cut, crispy, and just slightly salty, it turns out the French know how to do fries better than their American counterparts over at the Liberty Tree Inn.
Le Sandwich on the other hand was disappointing. The fish was extremely dry and it sat in between two too-thick slices of dense, mostly flavorless bread. Even slathered with as much tartar sauce as I could dig out of the cup, the sandwich was sort of like chewing balsa wood. Not recommended.
One lunch-bonus is an appearance by everyone’s favorite plastic, animatronic rat.
Actually, Remy’s interaction with his handler, Amelie, is totes adorbs. He is not particularly talkative, but his squeaks delight even the crankiest bloggers among us. Look for him every day other than Sunday at 12:30pm, 1:40pm, 2:50pm, and 5pm. He slowly makes his way throughout the restaurant beginning at those times.
Service was otherwise friendly and proficient. While I’m the opposite of enthusiastic about the Mahi-Mahi Sandwich, Les Chefs remains a good choice for a less expensive table service meal for lunch. For $3 – $5 more than a quick service burger, you can enjoy finer accommodations, unlimited soda refills, and potentially better food. With temperatures rising and rain increasing, a table service lunch may be just the ticket to keep you going for another couple hours. Remember that the only quick service eatery that has indoor, air-conditioned seating is Liberty Tree. And Liberty Tree is very loud. Very loud.
Thanks again to George and Greg for treating me to lunch.
Couple a relaxing meal with the Voices of Liberty and American Adventure in the United States and you should be good to go. And there’s always Red Stag Lemonade.
I’m planning to check out the new Antarctica attraction at SeaWorld on the 28th. Upcoming Disney posts include dinner at Jiko, lunch at Mama Melrose, lunch at Hollywood Brown Derby, lunch at Sanaa, drinks and appies at The Wave, Star Wars Weekends 2 with a look inside Darth’s Mall, lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern, a walk around Magic Kingdom during the 24-hour day, and whatever else I’m forgetting.