It’s been a while since we’ve visited Epcot so we’ll take some time to see what’s so fresh and so hot.
Holidays Around the World is/are in full force at Epcot. I’m not advocating for an extension of the holiday season here, since Target starts things up the Tuesday before Easter, but it may be a shame that we only get about a month of Candlelight Processional, the holiday storytellers, and all the Christmas decorations. I wish I could hit pause and have a little more time with all of this stuff. Flower & Garden and Food & Wine are great events (if you like 6-ounce beers and $8 cucumber salads), but they last for like 100 days each. And I only get 34 days with Sigrid and Julenissen. It’s not fair. This isn’t the America I envisioned for my children.
Just prior to 4pm, Spaceship Earth is still posting a 20-minute standby wait as the line winds around the extended queue. Which I guess shouldn’t be called the extended queue anymore since it’s an everyday thing. Longtime readers may remember Extended Queue Saturdays, but what do you call it when Disney makes you park at Animal Kingdom at 2:30pm in the afternoon because they say the Hollywood Studios parking lot is closed to capacity when you can clearly see half the lot is empty?
That’s actually the same posted wait as Test Track, which is pretty unusual. Looking over waits over the course of the day:
Epcot was recommended with an overall crowd level of “7,” which is accurate for the number of people in the Parks, but too high as far as wait times are concerned. Still, thanks to FastPass+ priority, you see some longer standby waits than you might expect at things like Journey into Imagination, Living with the Land, Spaceship Earth, and The Seas with Nemo. And posted standby waits continue to be somewhat erratic with Test Track going from a 70-minute posted wait at 3:45pm to a 20-minute posted wait at 4pm. Such is life with posted waits – the higher they are, the fewer people that get in line. Then when nobody gets in line because the posted wait has been displaying 70 minutes for an hour, the wait eventually drops. Then everybody gets in line when it’s posted at 20 minutes and it doubles soon after. It’s the same thing that’s happened for years, multiplied perhaps by so much capacity going to FastPass+. It just does not take a whole lot of people in standby to push up wait times considerably.
Here you’ve got a 10-minute posted wait at Character Spot. Since I spent so much time updating the attraction pages, it might make sense to add a new header titled, “Can I gauge how long the wait is going to be here based on how many people are visible in line?” Test Track is hard because you have to physically enter the narrow queue and walk a distance inside to see how long the line is, though you can be certain it actually is 60+ minutes if it spills outside into the always-queue. Character Spot is easier to gauge because you can look through the sliding glass doors and see if there’s anybody standing there. If there isn’t, the wait is short, even if it says it’s long. If there are a lot of people standing there, the wait is long, even if the sign says it’s short.
I figured it would be a decent enough time to ride Living with the Land so I headed over to The Land Pavilion.
But seeing the line, I changed my mind and decided to head back to Innoventions for Colortopia. You can see how much longer the extended queue here is going to be next week with the Christmas crowds descending. I’d have to check the archive, but I’m not sure if we’ve ever seen triple digit waits here before. It might happen.
Sunshine Seasons has added a Wood-grilled Lamb option after 4pm, which seems like a good value.
Innoventions East across from Test Track recently added the Colortopia by Glidden exhibit.
Which is located across from what was once Vision House. I guess nobody bought Bosch.
There are three separate areas here and if you want to do the second or third, you’ll have to first make your way through the first, titled “Power of Color.”
Colortopia admits just about 12 people every three minutes, so the overall capacity is extremely low, but it shouldn’t be a problem given the lack of popularity in this space overall.
It’s not like Habit Heroes next door is packing them in.
The first room is surrounded by tall blank screens with an overall aesthetic not unlike an insane asylum, not that I ummmmm have much experience in being committed (voluntarily).
You’ll spend just about three minutes in here with Ty Burrell/Phil Dunphy introducing you to the importance color plays in our lives. Ultimately, this is the least interesting area and those prone to sensory overload probably won’t appreciate the bright color projections.
The next area is much more open and offers a variety of interactive games to play.
In Color Corporal, you move the blue, green, and red sliders underneath the digital paint buckets to try to match your color with the color pouring out from the center. The fastest player scores 1,000 points per round. I scored zero points and I think the average age of the kids I was playing against was seven.
You’ll spend the most time in the next two areas, which combined make up “Color Our World.”
These paintbrushes will be distributed to each person.
Obviously if real paint was involved, this would be a catastrophe, but using technology of some variety, you dip your digital brush into one of these digital paint cans and your brush will magically paint with whatever color it’s dipped into.
You then use your brush to paint a blank scene on a screen. If you close your eyes and spin around three times you just might think you’ve been transported to Universal.
As you paint certain parts of the picture, the characters, objects, vehicles, etc. will become animated depending on what color they’re painted. Use what you learned from the first room to help set the stage.
There are something like six different screens in this room for the 12-or-so people, so everyone will have an opportunity to paint.
Cast members will direct you to download the Colortopia app, which I guess you can then use to enter your code to see your painting back home.
Overall, I think Colortopia is squarely aimed at kids between the ages of 4 and 12 or so, though I enjoyed seeing what it was all about as a new experience. It took about 25 minutes to complete the whole process, which is a decent chunk of time if you’re spending just one day at Epcot and have a lot on your itinerary. With two days at Epcot or if you’ve previously experienced most of what the Park has to offer, then I think it does warrant a stop, particularly with kids in tow. I don’t think I care much if I ever do it again, but I thought it was worth my time.
Only about two more weeks with the holiday stuff =[
It was kind of strange that Shellie May merchandise arrived right around the same time that Duffy was pulled from his only meet and greet, now replaced by Daisy. I am not up to speed on recent Disney cartoons, but it’s kind of surprising to see Daisy around so much I feel like. Maybe the costume is just that easy to operate.
2016 merchandise is out in force.
The musical theme seems kind of strange.
Almost everything incorporates music.
“Music, Magic, Memories.”
A lot of Sorcerer Mickey considering his hat was just ripped down so unceremoniously.
Even the handle is a musical note.
Anyway, if your two loves in life are sheet music and the sorcerer’s hat you’re in luck.
Without any notice whatsoever, Disney installed animatronic caballeros during the finale of The Gran Fiesta Tour Boat Cruise:
Leave it to the website to capture new animatronics in still pictures.
I wouldn’t pencil in May quiet yet.
The Norway beer cart added Einstok Toasted Porter on draft for the holidays and apparently removed Aquavit from the offerings.
Kringla added “Traditional Kjottkake.”
Though the dish does not appear on the menu and was not listed as a holiday-exclusive item.
Either my memory isn’t what it used to be or each Pavilion has been slowly beefing up its line of exclusive merchandise. People complain that Frozen doesn’t really have any real tie-ins to Norway, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Disney just buys the country outright to help promote the sequel. I mean Norway’s GDP is only ~500 billion dollars or roughly half of what The Force Awakens is going to make opening weekend just on fruit-related sponsorships.
Look in the mirror. This is your fault.
I’m not sure if China changes its prices based on some kind of lunar calendar or what, but prices typically only go up once every five years or so. Unfortunately, that increase happened:
The alcoholic drinks are up $1.45 each. Tipsy Ducks is a permanent addition. Tsingtao Pure Draft beer is no longer available, probably because people expected it to be on draft but it’s actually the name of a beer served out of a bottle. The Bubble Milk Tea is new. The “smoothies” used to be called “slushes.” The Curry Chicken Pocket is up 51 cents. The Kung Pao Chicken Egg Rolls are a permanent addition.
Longtime readers may remember that the website has exactly two fears. Sharks. And the living nutcracker in Germany during Horrors Around the World at Epcot.
One of the more festive Pavilions.
I’m writing this at 2:05am on technically Wednesday morning and it’s 70 degrees out. On December 16th.
At least there’s snow in the Mearn Pavilion.
Few things make me happier than hearing that dinner is at Via Napoli:
Perhaps only that there’s a sale on scotch. This menu is sort of unreadable, so here’s Disney’s online version if you prefer: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/epcot/via-napoli/menus/.
Note that bread is available but you’ll likely need to ask for it. It’s sort of like when the server asks the table if you want more breadsticks at Olive Garden and you hope somebody else admits to it first. If you’re particularly hungry, it’s a nice holdover until it’s pizza time. Otherwise, you may want to save the room.
The “Family-style House Salad” is available at a cost of $7 per person with a minimum of two people, purportedly only with a pizza purchase. It includes leaf lettuce, diced tomato, cucumber, peppers, marinated mushrooms, olives, and peperoncini with red wine vinaigrette.
This is the portion for two. We thought it was a nice variety of high quality ingredients, though not necessarily something that requires an additional purchase. You might feel a little better consuming some lettuce and cucumber before the main event.
I tried the $9 Tortellini in Brodo – beef tortellini, spinach in broth. I really, really, really like tortellini and this was a nice portion . I thought there was far too much green onion going on though – it completely overpowered the more subtle flavors of the beef wrapped up neatly in the pasta. If it’s not already obvious, we went in as hungry bloggers that hadn’t eaten in three hours and were thus completely famished. There’s certainly nothing wrong with going the appetizer route, but I would ordinarily prefer to skip them and enjoy filling up on the pizza. There’s no shortage of snacks and treats at the various Pavilions and looking for a little something in Japan or the UK or something is a good excuse to peruse the various stores.
Pizza here does not photograph well under the lighting. This is otherwise a half Quattro Formaggi/half Prosciutto e Melone Mezzo Metro Pizza. It comes in at $41, which is a lot of money to pay for pizza when you’re bombarded with commercials offering $7 medium takeouts. But this is legitimately plenty of pizza for four hungry adults to share and when you divide the price by four, you come out to less than $11/person. And you can’t get an adult entree for $11 at any Epcot table service. Heck, Pizzafari pizza is up to $11.19 for an individual, though it’s no longer baked-from-frozen over there.
Anyway, Via Napoli is a personal favorite – the pizza is fantastic, the ingredients are high quality, it’s a lot of food, and if you rationalize the cost by dividing it enough ways then you come out with a very good meal for just about the price of a quick service entree.
Downsides – it’s been really loud every time I’ve visited. The service I’ve received has never been personal and that’s not really something I’d say about any other restaurant on property. Somebody who very obviously has 50 other places they’d rather be takes your order and then somebody else delivers your pizza. That’s about it. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s so far removed from the experience at Tutto Italia that it’s surprising they’re 100 feet away from each other and operated by the same parent.
Something about this struck me as not quite right.
In a World where magnets are $9, it’s always surprising to see something priced under $3, but you get 40 pieces of candy per bag for $2.95 here in the store next to The American Adventure.
Block & Hans is serving up some decent bottled selections for the holidays.
As the Candlelight Processional let out…virtually all of the capacity for the show this year is being given to Dining Package users. I’ve got one for Marrakesh myself for this Saturday.
I really enjoyed Morocco’s newish musical act, Ribab Fusion – they had a ton of energy and the audience was really getting into it.
Tangierine Cafe is back to offering this strange menu around the holidays featuring an extremely expensive Saffron Rotisserie Chicken. You may remember that they did the same thing last year before going back to their usual menu in January.
Most of the year, Living with the Land closes at 7pm on days that it isn’t offering evening Extra Magic Hours. And most of the year, it isn’t dark by 7pm, so your experience as late in the evening as you can usually ride will be similar to an afternoon ride, perhaps save for the shorter wait.
Yes, the danger must be growing
For the rowers keep on rowing
And they’re certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing
This time of year though, you do have the opportunity to enjoy a somewhat unique experience on Living with the Land.
Without sunlight, the greenhouses are kind of eerie.
It’s a markedly different experience from your typical afternoon jaunt. If you’re visiting Soarin’ for a late FP+ or hitting Sunshine Seasons for dinner and have an opportunity to ride after sundown, you might want to give it a whirl.
Breakfast at Garden Grill seems to be going over well:
The Italian Sausage is a relatively new addition, I think. No bread or fish for lunch, it also looks like.
There’s always that $80 Sunday brunch at California Grill…
That’s about what’s going on with Epcot.