Our visit to Epcot concludes as we head to the rest of the Future World attractions on our itinerary. I would refer you to the previous Part of this series to see how we got here, which also includes links and descriptions to the Parts that came before it. As you may recall, we’re not alone for once, as we follow our RideMax-optimized touring plan, instead of having to rely on me telling you that your ninth ride in a row on The Seas with Nemo and Friends probably won’t kill you, so just get back on.
This is how things have lined up versus what our RideMax plan predicted so far:
This is based on the original RideMax optimization of the attractions we selected to visit over the course of the day, so we “literally” never had to optimize again or reshuffle things around based on where we were at any given time. We could have printed out the plan and tossed our phones into the giant hole in the middle of Future World, only to watch them rise with the new Festival Center when it’s completed in 2036, and followed the guidance just the same. Hopefully the trade-in values won’t go down during those 15+ years.
It’s comforting to know what to expect without having to throw the whole day off because of wildly inaccurate predictions. To say that I “mentally prepare” to experience an attraction is probably overstating things, since I don’t mentally prepare for much of anything, but psychologically, I think most of us set some sort of expectations for our immediate future. As far as theme park touring is concerned, if you’re expecting to visit Frontierland for Big Thunder and Splash Mountain, but the plan is so far off-base that you’re an hour behind schedule, and then you have to “re-optimize” because there’s no chance of the times lining up, you might find that the next two steps are now Mickey’s PhilharMagic and Prince Charming Regal Carrousel. Those might be fine attractions for a midday stop, but the change would be a little jarring, and probably a little disappointing.
We got going earlier than expected at Frozen because they opened the ride early, but both on the plan and during our visit, the voyage through Arendelle took exactly 20 minutes. Since RideMax expected us to arrive at Gran Fiesta Tour a little later, it also had the wait being a little longer. We were expecting a ten minute wait and it actually came in closer to three. After that, it was basically free time in World Showcase for lunch at our leisure and a walk around World Showcase. You’ll remember that we elected to take a Skyliner ride over France in lieu of the Sing-Along, which took longer than seeing the show. While that change put us a bit behind our original schedule, it didn’t impact our timing later in the day by a wide margin. If we were concerned that we wouldn’t be able to make all the stops, or wanted fresh timing, we could have optimized the plan again for an updated itinerary.
One of the nice things about RideMax is that it adds free time and anytime attractions in along with the priorities. The timing is there so you know about where you are in the day, but there’s enough leeway to account for picture- taking, restroom breaks, stopping to fawn over a limited edition Minnie Mouse headband, or what have you. The entire Walt Disney World experience is predicated on capturing your attention, so you’ll likely find yourself browsing through a gift shop that you weren’t originally planning to spend time in, or just sitting down around the fountain outside The American Adventure and taking in the atmosphere. Typically, we’re within just a few minutes of our expected arrival times without even trying. Over five hours into the day, and after lunch and a half dozen attractions, we arrive at Awesome Planet within five minutes of the expected timing. We even end up with some extra time for dinner and we’re still ahead of the game before leaving for The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
At this point, our goal is basically to finish up with the Future World attractions that we haven’t visited and get to Test Track no later than a minute before official Park close. RideMax organized the day so we’d be up in World Showcase in the morning when Future World crowds were heaviest. A few hours later, those people would move on to World Showcase, probably after waiting a little longer than they were expecting for the plant ride, among other things. That’s our cue to head back towards the front of the Park. The lower crowds in World Showcase are more difficult to quantify in a wait time chart, but we also guaranteed the most pleasant experience possible by starting the day up there. While we would typically prefer to be where most of the people aren’t, that’s probably particularly true at the moment.
Here’s a look at wait times over the course of the day:
It was on the busier side, with the 30-minute average just four minutes shy of the Veterans Day holiday. That’s probably further testament to just how well things are going so far.
The wait times follow what we were expecting for the most part, with longer waits during the first few hours of operation. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to join them when we can basically just flip the day. Unlike the last 10+ years, most of us don’t currently benefit from any form of FASTPASS to bypass longer afternoon waits with priority boarding. With Epcot typically opening at 11am, instead of the 9am opens that we had seen during those same 10+ years, Future World and World Showcase also open at the same time.
That’s a big departure from our visits prior to the July reopening, when staying in Future World until at least 11am was basically our only option. Disney knows most people are going to arrive at the main entrance and spend a few hours with the rides up front before moving on to World Showcase. That changed slightly with the opening of Frozen Ever After in 2016, when the Norway Pavilion opened with the Park due to the popularity of the ride. The Mexico Pavilion tried to follow suit, opening their boat ride and quick service at 9am in hopes of siphoning off some of the guests put off by long waits up north. But even Frozen’s popularity wasn’t enough to drive people up to World Showcase early in the morning, and Mexico went back to opening at 11am just a couple of months after Anna and Elsa debuted. The French Bakery also opened with the Park for those cosmopolitan enough to be entering through the International Gateway and beginning the day with a croissant and a cappuccino. Or eight mimosas. We don’t judge here. The opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure will certainly push more people towards the Parisians after it opens, likely a few months into 2021.
On the date of our particular visit, wait times are skewed a bit based on the fact that Test Track was down at Park open. When that happens, people head to Mission: SPACE next door, which is why we see such long waits there to start the day. Ordinarily, perhaps 2% of the rope drop crowd is headed in that direction. With Test Track down, it’s going to be closer to 20%. Test Track’s technical trouble also pushes waits up at Soarin’, the other Future World priority, along with every other attraction as you have about a thousand people who would be occupied by Epcot’s most popular ride needing to find something else to do when it’s not available.
Test Track coming back up in the late afternoon, and posting longer wait times to go along with it, is part of why we see longer waits later in the evening. And also why we’re headed there last. But it’s mostly due to higher waits at Frozen, which we took care of first thing. Looking over Soarin’, RideMax also got us over there in the middle of the afternoon, when posted waits were below-average. It’s true that waits are shorter in that last hour, but it would be difficult/impossible to ride it then and make it over to Mission: SPACE and Test Track without doing a lot of backtracking. We waited about 25 minutes for Soarin’, which is a good compromise compared to walking an extra 15 minutes, only to wait five minutes less at 6pm instead.
One thing that makes RideMax unique is that it prioritizes a minimal amount of walking over the course of the day as a major part of the algorithm. As you’re sitting down reading yet another behemoth of a post, you may think that walking four minutes to save five minutes in line sounds like a better deal, but I can assure you that six hours into the day, you’ll prefer to stay put. That’s particularly true in the face mask age. And even truer in the summer. Even with the tropical storm coming through this week, in November I would add, highs were still 85+ degrees.
Also looking at the wait time chart, some attractions that you wouldn’t necessarily expect to post long waits do so during the first few hours of operation. Journey into Imagination with Figment hits 30 minutes. We waited three. Living with the Land hits 35 minutes. We waited three. Mission: SPACE sees a 65-minute peak and we’ll see how we do there, while Spaceship Earth tops out at 45 minutes. Even The Seas with Nemo is consistently 40 minutes from 12:30pm to 1:15pm with a peak of 45 minutes at 12pm. Those last three attractions will be our next three stops.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends is where we pick things up as we get in line at 5:26pm. And for once, we don’t have to ride nine times.
The ride basically operates at half-capacity with Disney filling every other clamobile. That’s part of the reason for those longer waits. Guests entering the Park, probably with the intention of heading to Soarin’ in the Land Pavilion, will also have to pass right by the entrance to the attraction on their way. The Seas Pavilion would ordinarily be a little out of the way if there weren’t the walls guiding you towards Nemo. If only his dad was so lucky.
We were onboard in six minutes:
RideMax had our actual wait at seven minutes with ten minutes posted. So our actual wait was within a minute of that.
Those markers on the ground on the left are for The Seas with Nemo, so an actual wait of 30+ minutes earlier in the day is an ordinary thing.
I’m sure that it goes without saying, but you don’t want to find yourself waiting back here out of necessity because the entire queue in front of you is full. But they do pay me by the word, so here we are. Even if the marker is asking nicely, don’t do it.
As we’ve emerged from the FastPass+ era and entered the “come back later” era, it’s interesting to see how much less people seem to be glued to their phones. Refreshing FastPass+ availability was almost an addiction. With just one more refresh, you could land somebody else’s cancelled Flight of Passage FastPass+, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train FastPass+, or whatever other priority you might be seeking. Of course, if you have a Flight of Passage FastPass+, it’s unlikely that you’re going to willingly give it up, so it could take hundreds of refreshes for a prime attraction to show availability. Now, you may occasionally find yourself looking at wait times on the app, or to see if an attraction has reopened after downtime, but it’s unlikely that things will deviate too much from the standard progression. If the line is longer than expected, you just come back later.
The walls might have helped Nemo’s dad in the age before GPS, but they also complicate our touring as we can’t take advantage of cutting through the Innoventions breezeways that no longer exist. They typically frown on people jumping over the wall and through the one archway on the right that does still exist.
If we were to continue walking straight, we’d just run into walls. Our last shot at taking a right towards The Seas is conveniently marked by that blue Mickey balloon.
Our last shot at taking a right towards The Seas is conveniently marked by that blue Mickey balloon, just beyond the planter.
It’s the same story where we started our day on the opposite side of Future World. We’re basically making a semi-circle back over there for Mission: SPACE and Test Track.
But now it’s time for Spaceship Earth, was still posted at 15 minutes at 5:43pm.
But it should be just about a straight shot to load as we look back towards the exit and the lucite pillars that are not quite as impressive in person as I was expecting. I think they’re quoted as weighing some number of thousands of pounds, but I’m not sure you can trust the strength of the blogger who tried to steal them and couldn’t quite pick them up. They could just as easily weigh five pounds and we’d still have difficulty dragging them along behind us.
I’m sure the pillars will look majestic once the water starts flowing. That will be one more obstacle in verifying their weight, though.
There are additional queue markers beyond the railing on the right leading out towards the dead end. We’ll wait just five minutes compared to the 30+ that you could see earlier in the day:
We were back out front at 6:05pm for a total experience time of 22 minutes.
We’ll take a moment to savor how nice it is not having to fit Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind into our day as we pass by the future entrance on our left.
Fitting it, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, and the PLAY! Pavilion into our day is going to complicate things quite a bit.
Disney’s use of the virtual queue at Rise of the Resistance surprised everyone. It will be interesting to see if Guardians opens with a similar system. Part of the reason for the virtual queue at Rise is likely because Disney realized just how unreliable the entire ride system would be. Ongoing technical trouble would require long waits without any movement or several queue dumps a day. Otherwise, the ride would be a prime candidate for the standard standby/FastPass+ situation that existed last December when it opened. Guardians should be more reliable as a roller coaster and screens. The PLAY! Pavilion is probably the one thing that we don’t mind Disney isn’t in a big hurry to finish at the moment, considering it will largely consist of meet and greets that would currently be off-limits anyway. They did finish re-tiling the roof at least.
But we’ll see how doing Guardians, Ratatouille, Test Track, Frozen, and Soarin’ in one day goes. On one hand, new rides will help spread the crowds out. But with increased attendance on top of it, it seems unlikely that the Park will be doable in one day unless you’re willing to skip several attractions that we would currently consider key parts of the day. Guardians, the newest attraction, will be the obvious first stop. The fact that you’ll arrive at it before Test Track, Frozen, or Ratatouille will only push more people in that direction.
Mission: SPACE in the evening is a little goofy in that there likely won’t be more than a handful of people in front of you, but it will basically take forever to ride.
That’s either because they’re running fewer simulators or the space race slows down after 5pm on weeknights. As always, the Green Earth Team Mission is posting a shorter wait with ten minutes showing at 6:10pm.
We need to be at Test Track no later than 6:59pm, which means we have just under 50 minutes to make it through Mission: SPACE.
The Green Team should take a total of about 30 minutes.
While the Orange Mars Mission would take about 40 minutes.
It will probably feel like you could actually travel to Mars in the time that it takes to enter the first pre-show. That’s only exacerbated by physical-distancing and the limit of one party per simulator reducing capacity.
Of all the attractions that you could figure out some way to distance, this one is probably the least possible. The only thing they could really do is put a big piece of plastic in the middle and seat two parties of one on either side. That sounds like a pretty depressing mission, particularly when our only stated objective is to survive, rather than do something exciting like collect coaxium.
Since I threw my back out trying to steal the pillars, it’s Green Team for us. We’d be in the pre-show in about ten minutes. Orange would take ten more.
Fifteen minutes after getting in line, we’re standing in front of this rather ominous doorway. It “felt” like we had been waiting there for about three hours. I don’t know what it is about this and Soarin’ that make the wait feel so much longer. I could just be averse to long hallways with multiple doors all heading into the same room. Or it could just be the multiple stops with the pre-shows and everything. I’ll let you know what my therapist says.
Ten minutes after standing in front of the doorway, we can enjoy a completely closed post-show.
Said Space 220 Restaurant.
We were back out front at 6:37pm. Green is now posting the same ten minutes and Orange is down to fifteen. But even with basically nobody in line in front of us – there might have been 20 people across five or six parties – our total experience time was still 28 minutes. We still have a nice cushion with 22 minutes until we absolutely need to be over to Test Track and nothing else left on the itinerary. That would have left enough time to go through Orange.
The end of the day is the busiest time to shop as we look at the line just to enter Temporary Mouse Gear to the left of the entrance. That line obviously wouldn’t be a thing without physical-distancing measures in place, but if you’re interested in doing some browsing, you’re best off doing so in the early afternoon.
At least the wall keeping the hole safe looks pretty in the evening light.
Earlier in the day, Test Track’s queue winds all around.
You have to wait over there, where I don’t think anybody had ever waited prior to March of this year.
Just to go over there, into what has traditionally been the extended queue.
Like any major attraction, Test Track is going to post an exaggerated wait at the end of the night, with some hope that you’ll see it and decide to leave instead of getting in line. At 6:42pm, we have 60 minutes posted.
But so long as you’re in the regular queue, even if you start outside, your wait should be under 40 minutes.
This is where we are at 6:47pm. The line will remain open for about 12 more minutes. Anyone in it before official close will be allowed to ride, barring any technical trouble.
People continued to stream in as we waited, but at least none of them had to start on the other side. The end of the line at 6:40pm was about where it was at 6:59pm, so we wouldn’t have benefitted much from twiddling our thumbs elsewhere for a bit. It’s also nice to have a little cushion so we’re not too stressed out about making it over here in time. There have been a few occasions over at the Studios where things have worked out, but the timing was a little closer than you’d probably like. Getting in line right at 6:59pm would look good on paper because we’ve absolutely maximized our Park time, but unless we’re doing something that we can easily leave, you’re going to be stressed out if you’re standing in front of that door into your Mission: SPACE simulator at 6:50pm instead of 6:30pm.
Otherwise, the process through Test Track’s queue hasn’t changed since Epcot reopened in July.
We continue through the regular standby queue.
Probably the strangest thing about Disney’s operation of its theme parks over the last few months is that they very much do not want you to touch the screens in the design studio, but they still leave several of them on with the animations playing quickly on screen. I would guess things would be all the more depressing inside with every monitor off, but I can virtually guarantee you that everyone under the age of ten is going to touch one of those screens, even if they don’t do anything.
Then it’s up the ramp.
And then one party per vehicle.
We’re onboard at 7:12pm, or exactly 30 minutes after getting in line. RideMax had our wait at 34 minutes, so we’re just about on target:
And we’re back out front at 7:21pm to darkness and a theme park that’s officially closed.
Overall, the day went well. We were able to do every attraction in Future World, spend some time in World Showcase, ride the Skyliner to and from Caribbean Beach Resort, and enjoy two quick service meals.
I’ve seen some amount of discussion over the past year or so over whether or not Epcot is worth visiting in its current state. The fact is that just about everything that was open two years ago is still open as far as attractions go. We’ve lost Ellen’s Energy Adventure as Guardians construction continues. Electric Umbrella and a couple of meet and greets are gone, but the latter wouldn’t be an option at the moment anyway. And you can get a better burger at Sunshine Seasons. We’re also down the Festival Center, a couple of fountains, and Old MouseGear. But that’s about it. All of the other rides remain open, including Spaceship Earth. More and more of the eateries in World Showcase have reopened, while others have expanded their menus.
So Epcot is still Epcot, despite a number of walls and the giant hole in the middle. Undoubtedly, World Showcase has lost a lot of its charm without the international college program cast members. Disney has posted that they’re looking to recruit again beginning “early next year,” but it’s hard to say what sorts of travel restrictions in and out of the country will remain into the new year. Or what new ones may be enacted. There’s also a distinct lack of entertainment, with most of the popular acts absent. It’s basically the trash can band and Mariachi Cobre. But to spend much time at all in World Showcase, you’ll still need to dedicate two days to the Park or skip a number of attractions.
A big shout out to Mark from RideMax for hanging out with me for longer than anyone ever has before. If you think getting through one of these blog posts is rough, imagine what ten hours of me in real life is like. Not pretty.
And if you’re planning a trip, you might head over to RideMax and check the touring optimization software out. You may or may not have noticed that there are no affiliate links in any of these posts or kickbacks of any kind involved. I just know that even if you were familiar with touring Walt Disney World before the extended closure, it’s a very different landscape today. I would never say so out loud, but occasionally something even surprises me. Obviously, I can talk about what I did, and what you might want to do, but it’s not quite the same as having a neat personalized itinerary to follow each day based on the exact attractions that you want to visit.
You’ll also benefit from having the plan created to the Park’s operating hours:
Epcot may have been open from 11am to 7pm when we visited, but you’ll now benefit from two extra hours in the evening with the 9pm closes. This weekend, Epcot will be open from 10am to 10pm. Your experience and timing would be considerably different depending on the operating hours.
You can certainly follow along with any of the wait time charts, but there is something to say for ease, automation, and the all-important second opinion. For less than three dollars a day across a seven-day trip, and a 30-day money back guarantee when you purchase a subscription through the website, there isn’t a whole lot of downside to verifying your plans. And when you’re on the go, it will likely be beneficial at some point to run another optimization because of some unforeseen problem. Had we originally been planning on going to Test Track first, our entire day would have been thrown off because it was down at Park open. RideMax would be able to re-order your itinerary with just a couple of clicks should that sort of thing happen.
A post full of the things that happened the day before is probably up next.