Before the Food and Wine Festival takes hold at the end of the month, we head into Epcot to check out Future World happenings.
Epcot has seen relatively low crowds for most of the summer, though Spaceship Earth continues seeing backups with its front-of-house placement and the joy that is FastPass+ priority. You might remember my “There’s Nobody at Epcot” update from earlier this summer, linked here.
The pictures in that update are better and the emphasis is more on “crowd feel” than the projects and announcements that will dominate this update.
The partnership between Siemens and the Walt Disney Company has apparently dissolved, with the German conglomerate abandoning their lounge here long before the attraction sponsorship officially ends at the end of September.
I’m not sure how beneficial these sponsorship “opportunities” are for the companies, although everything I own is currently made by Bosch.
But seeing the Siemens name underneath the name of the attraction or hearing it during the various IllumiNations announcements hasn’t caused me to run out and purchase a steam turbine rotor or high-voltage transformer.
Yet, perhaps. “Rumors” suggest that Siemens wanted to increase their Walt Disney World presence by offering to replace the monorail trains.
In exchange, Siemens would brandish their logo on the front of each cab.
This is true, though I’m sure the details will never be released.
Here’s a look at Spaceship Earth wait times in August:
The dates highlighted in red are Extra Magic Hour days, with waits that are typically a bit longer than other days during the week. Saturdays also typically see longer waits with heavier overall crowds. We’ll see if this trend continues with a couple other attractions as we move about Future World.
A few on-ride photos:
The 5-minute posted wait seen above was on July 24th at 5:17pm. Spaceship Earth makes a lot of sense as one of your Tier 2 FastPass+ choices if you’re planning on riding between 10am and 2pm in particular, though you can still save 15-ish minutes most days from 2pm-5pm. If you’re planning on doing standby, getting in line after 5pm is ideal, particularly if you’re entering the Park late or leaving before IllumiNations.
Of course, the name of the game at Walt Disney World at the moment is re-imagining.
Ellen’s Energy Adventure is now closed forever with plans for an attraction themed to Guardians of the Galaxy expected to open at some point in the distant future.
Like most things Epcot-related, Ellen was well past its prime years before it closed.
Luckily, Ellen and Bill Nye the Mechanical Engineer look pretty much the same as they did when the attraction opened in 1996.
And the same energy problems that plagued the late 20th century continue to persist. And probably will for some time, considering the world’s greatest minds are all blogging about Disney World instead of taking up nuclear policy. A few more pictures:
Otherwise, Disney is taking a 47-minute ride that was virtually always a walk-on and replacing it what will most likely be a 4-minute roller coaster with waits that will probably be in excess of 100 minutes most days. We’ll see.
Mission: SPACE reopened after a relatively brief refurbishment with improved visuals on the Orange/Mars Team and a new mission on the Earth/Green Team.
Here’s a video of the new Gary-Sinise-less pre-show along with the new Earth mission.
I’m not sure how many people “like” Mission: SPACE. I’ve never visited the Park with someone that wanted to ride it. I only ride when I’m going through touring plan timing.
Otherwise, adding a different video for the Green/Less Intense side is an intriguing move, though I think the experience largely falls flat. The simulator doesn’t offer the range of motion of something like Star Tours and staring at such a small screen doesn’t make for a particularly immersive experience. But then I don’t find the Orange side to be particularly enjoyable either.
Here’s a look at wait times for Orange since the ride reopened:
It looks like some mechanical problems must have plagued the simulator during three of the last four days with the 100+ minute posted waits, though it’s possible that a rush on the Green side really did push up actual waits over an hour. Moving forward, I’d expect the 25-30 minute average waits to be the norm.
Here’s a look at Orange Team waits during the same dates last year:
Wait times were shorter across the board, which makes some sense given how tired the attraction must have been to a lot of repeat visitors. The improved visuals on the Orange Team and new Earth mission should continue to push wait times up about 20% over last year, though it’s still relatively easy to secure FastPass+ and waits are still reliably short during the first hour of operation. Typically, the website’s touring plans recommend visiting Mission: SPACE after Test Track in the early morning.
Otherwise, Green Team waits have been short for the most part, typically between 10 and 25 minutes with Orange Team typically between 15 and 35 minutes.
It may also be worth noting that the Green Team’s height limit has been reduced to 40 inches. Disney will provide a small booster seat for those youngsters/bloggers that require one.
You’ve probably seen Disney’s announcement about the new space restaurant on 400 other blogs, which is why this website doesn’t really cover “news,” but it’s probably worth revisiting. Operated by Patina, the same group that runs Italy Pavilion dining and Morimoto Asia, the new restaurant will open either to the left or right of Mission: SPACE. Hopefully we’ll see Epcot’s version open before Musk opens an actual restaurant in space. You just never know with Disney’s construction timelines.
Apparently, it looked like Disney was testing Sum of All Thrills a couple of weeks ago, with some speculation that the ride simulator would reopen without Raytheon as a sponsor. While it does make sense to increase capacity with Ellen’s Energy Adventure’s closure, Sum of All Thrills has an hourly capacity well south of 200 riders per hour and would not make a meaningful dent in wait times. The only reason that the ride worked was because so few people knew it existed, which kept interest down and in turn, wait times relatively low. But you never know. Weirder things have happened.
Taste Track is the name of the kiosk/cart/trailer in between the side entrance to Mouse Gear and the Test Track store.
If you walk straight out of the Test Track store/exit, you’ll see this kiosk on your right in front of the car wash that sells slushies.
The menu has changed here a bit over the years. Above is current.
The previous menu focused more on alcoholic beverages and basic ice cream offerings.
Before that, it was hot sandwiches and soup, which is perhaps not what most people are looking to order outside in Florida in July.
Otherwise, the three $6.50 sundaes are somewhat new additions, here with the “Berry Explosion Sundae – Vanilla Ice Cream layered with Berries and Pound Cake, topped with Whipped Cream, Strawberry Pearls, and Cotton Candy.” This was my favorite of the bunch – I thought the sweet fruitiness of the berries made for a refreshing, cool snack with a variety of different textures and flavors going on all at once. Plus, cotton candy.
The $6.50 “Chocolaty Churro Sundae – Vanilla Ice Cream and Hot Fudge, topped with Whipped Cream, Chocolate Curls, and a Churro.” Churros are $4.29 by themselves, making it easy to rationalize an extra two-ish dollars for the ice cream. This is best when the full-size churro is used as a spoon to scoop up the creamy ice cream and chocolate sauce. It’s the most straightforward of the sundaes, but the churro mixed with the ice cream tastes really incredible for those that like the cinnamon sugar punch that the crunchy fried dough pastry provides.
And finally, the $6.50 “Apple Pie Sundae – Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Sauce, topped with Whipped Cream, Caramel Popcorn, Salted Caramel Pearls, and Warm Apple Pie.” The apple pie pockets, which there are two of atop the sundae, were surprisingly good with a fluffy crust and a delightful cinnamon-apple flavor. The caramel corn added a nice crunch to the ice cream as well, making this another refreshing cold treat.
This is what the $5 ice cream sundaes look like with “hot fudge” on the left and one topped with caramel sauce on the right. For a buck fifty more, it seems like a no-brainer to order one of the larger, more opulent sundaes.
On the downside, there’s no telling when or if Taste Track will be open – you’ll usually see the kiosk serving from around 12pm to around 6pm when it is operating. There’s otherwise no shortage of treats throughout World Showcase and beyond.
Summer is always a trying time for Test Track as the threat of lightning shuts the attraction down, in addition to the usual mechanical problems. Here’s a look at wait times so far in August:
With each blank box indicating about 15 minutes of downtime, it looks like Test Track only experienced 100% uptime on four days over the last four weeks. It also looks like the ride was down at or immediately after Park open on seven of twenty-seven dates, which isn’t good, in addition to being down at Park close on four dates.
Looking over Epcot FastPass+ priority:
One wonders if Test Track will again reign supreme, but using FP+ at Frozen Ever After probably makes more sense in most situations as there are fewer experiences to go around and Test Track does offer the single rider option.
Here’s a chart of Frozen Ever After posted wait times in August:
Test Track’s overall average wait time is nine minutes longer than Frozen and the Norway Pavilion attraction also enjoys much better uptime. We’ll see if the pattern holds this fall, when lightning is typically less common, resulting in less downtime and lower wait times at outdoor attractions.
We continue to wait and see if any announcements are made regarding a re-imagining or outright replacement for the Imagination Pavilion.
But at least in the middle of a storm, Journey into Imagination pulls in enough guests to fill the departing vehicles:
You would think a similar ride to what they’re installing over at The Great Movie Ride would be viable in this space. White Walkers aside, smiling purple dragons are an evergreen property – you’d think a ride featuring Figment could be just as or more successful than something based around Inside Out.
There’s not much going on in The Land Pavilion these days, but it’s always fun to hop on Living with the Land and see what’s fresh:
We’ll be able to enjoy watching the greenhouses transition over to fall colors heading into September and October in between Food and Wine margaritas.
That’s what’s going on in Future World where most of the construction work is still on the horizon. Guardians of the Galaxy remains several years out and there’s no noticeable movement on the Space restaurant construction. A couple of projects that should get underway in the next year or so still haven’t been announced. So what you see is what you’re going to get for the next couple of years, for the most part.
A couple of nighttime pictures on the way out:
We should have a quick opportunity to take a walk around World Showcase before Food and Wine gets underway…in three days…