With the Food and Wine Festival being the focus of most of our Epcot coverage in just a couple of weeks now, I thought it would be prudent to take a Pavilion-by-Pavilion look at a variety of things that I haven’t had time to impart yet. Here we’ll begin in Future World then move to Mexico to review the breakfast menu at La Cantina de San Angel and the kiosk that temporarily replaces the Margarita stand, in addition to a look around the pyramid. Then on to Norway for a review of Kringla’s breakfast and some cupcakes and to see how Frozen Ever After and Royal Sommerhus are doing. China includes a look at the Shanghai Disneyland exhibit, a few new entrees at Lotus Blossom, and two dinners at Nine Dragons. Germany might be sparse at the moment but we’ll check in on the new entertainment and drink offerings. Italy is Via Napoli dinner. U.S. might just be merchandise. In Japan, we’ll take a look at new drinks and alcoholic kakigoris. A look around Morocco. A review of the all-day menu at Chefs de France, in addition to the new croissant sandwich at the Boulangerie and some Paris merchandise. I’ll probably forget that I’m doing this by the time we get to the UK but you never know.
Longer waits persist at Spaceship Earth as this 25-minute wait around 2:40pm this past Saturday might indicate.
A look at wait times in August:
This isn’t so terrible with attendance down so much this summer. We may or may not compare June-August wait times this year to the last couple of years. Maybe at just a few attractions at each Park or something. But the website continues to advocate using FastPass+ here if you plan on riding between 10am and 5pm and in particular between 10:30am and 1:15pm. If you’re heading in or out later in the day then you can usually walk on after 5pm.
The “big news,” at least as far as things that are actually happening is concerned, is that StormStruck and Sum of All Thrills will close on September 14th.
I kind of liked StormStruck although it was more than a little dated, opening eight years ago. But being extremely low capacity, I’d be surprised if more than 10% of the people reading this have ever experienced it.
Sum of All Thrills is a potentially bigger loss, though it should simplify morning touring by losing one of the bigger priorities that didn’t offer FastPass+.
There was a guy trying to break into Vision House as we walked by. I’m not sure if he knew that you don’t actually have to commit a crime to become a resident here.
One wonders if any company has ever gotten less value for sponsoring something than Florida Blue Cross with Habit Heroes. You might remember that it was originally open for fewer than three weeks before it was forced to close by advocacy groups for promoting negative stereotypes. After it reopened nearly a year later, maybe 25 people per hour experienced it.
That will leave just Colortopia Presented By Wal-Mart Paint, which I reviewed positively back in December.
The experience, which will take about 25 minutes to complete, is low key and air-conditioned. I think I like Pixar Short Film Festival a little more for seated downtime, but Colortopia is a lot more interactive and the kids may enjoy running around a little bit more.
“Rumors” continue to swirl about a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction, and potentially a roller coaster, replacing the Universe of Energy. Plans do exist, but whether they come to fruition is anybody’s guess.
A couple software updates have made the Test Track design process a little more fun.
You should find more customization options.
Mission: SPACE wait times don’t seem to be impacted too harshly by moving back to a Tier 2 FastPass+ selection. So far in August:
At 21 minutes, the overall average is similar to Spaceship Earth and the highest average peak of 32 minutes is shorter than Spaceship Earth’s highest of 38 minutes. But because Disney reduces capacity in the evening, waits can sometimes be longer at 8pm than in the heart of the afternoon.
For a while, Taste Track outside of the Test Track store offered grilled sandwiches and beer. But like other “seasonal” locations, you never really knew when it was going to be open and when it was, it closed by 6pm. Like the baked potatoes at Fairfax Fare, you sort of wonder how many people wanted to eat a hot sandwich standing up outside in Florida in August.
Not very many is the answer as ice cream and floats are now what’s offered.
And the sundaes, one with hot fudge and one with caramel, are pretty good for a quick treat. If there’s nobody in line, as there often isn’t, it’s also a good place to pick up a free cup of ice water.
Ice Cream Floats are available for $5 or with an alcoholic option for $11.25. A refreshing choice.
If you can hold off and don’t mind venturing a bit outside Epcot, I think the best value in the area is the $8.49 Ample Hills Creamery Sundae at the BoardWalk.
I’m not sure how obvious it is, but this thing is stupid big with a brownie or slice of ooey gooey cake underneath then ice cream is piled on top with a choice of hot fudge or caramel sauce then rainbow or chocolate sprinkles and then m&m’s or chocolate chips. It’s safest to share among three people. While the ice cream is a large portion for the money, some of the single scoops or milkshakes potentially offer smaller portions and less value. More on Ample Hills here: https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/ample-hills-creamery-review-on-the-disney-boardwalk-with-bonus-bakery-sandwiches/.
Disney opened a lounge for DVC members and up to five guests back on June 6th. Potentially better pictures of the interior are available directly from Disney here: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2016/06/new-disney-vacation-club-member-lounge-opens-at-epcot-today/.
Lounge access is available from the store attached to ImageWorks/the exit of Journey into Imagination with Figment.
Just show your membership card and they’ll motion you up the stairs.
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll find three Coke Freestyle machines with “free” soda. A snack cart is circulated every hour or so with “free” items like Doritos, Lay’s, gummy bears, Chips Ahoy, and granola bars.
K-Cups are available upon request so nobody fills a backpack full. Or if they do, it has to be one K-Cup at a time.
There’s a play area for kids and a couple game systems with Disney Infinity.
Charging stations are available at each table along with outlets if you have a quick charger or use a cable that isn’t provided (like USB-C). Giant iPads, perfect for all of your vacation photo needs, are available. Surprisingly this website is accessible.
Computers and a printer are available just in case you want to print out an easywdw.com post and take it with you.
There’s an elevator, but unfortunately nothing to see as it heads up or down.
The Lounge is usually open from 10am to 6pm and is a no-brainer if you’re a card-carrying DVC member or have the charm necessary to cozy up to one. It’s pretty comfortable up there and you’ll save a few dollars on soda and snacks. You might look around the Park for a stray blogger and invite them along. We are a very needy bunch. The Lounge can get busy but I haven’t had to wait more than a handful of minutes for a table/seats to open up.
Non-members may elect to visit the flophouse that is the walkway behind Fountain View and Character Spot. Plenty of tables and chairs are set up with a variety of outlets around.
Soarin’ Around the World has been open for a little more than two months now. I offered a lengthy review of what I thought about it here: https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/soarin-around-the-world-wait-times-fastpass-availability-strategy-and-review/. If you’ve had the opportunity to experience it, you might leave a comment about what you thought.
As part of that review, I said:
I’ve highlighted wait times of 45 minutes or fewer in green as well as 75+ minutes in red to make it a little easier to see which times of day see the shortest and longest waits. The distribution is somewhat interesting I think with some of the longest waits of the day posted from 9:15am to 10:15am.
This makes some sense as there is an initial rush to the ride and anyone that arrives after that rush will wait behind all of those people. So if you were to start your day at Test Track from 8:55am – 9:15am and then hurry over to Soarin’ to get in line around 9:25am, then you’d be behind everyone that arrived at Soarin’ before then. With FastPass+ returners already clogging up lines, your actual wait could easily be 75 minutes with a 9:30am arrival.
With more data to go on and no longer having to rely on the few days immediately following the opening, it looks like wait times in the first hour are a lot more forgiving. At 10am, the posted wait is only longer than 45 minutes on 3 of the 26 dates. If you’re visiting over just one day, it seems like it makes sense to start at Test Track, then move to Soarin’, then use FastPass+ at Frozen Ever After if you can snag one. If you’d rather not rush around in the morning and don’t mind missing IllumiNations, then last thing at night is a better idea. Remember that you can get in line for an operating attraction up until a minute before official close regardless of the posted wait. For those trying to decide between visiting Joy/Sadness or doing Soarin’ first thing, then I’d go with Joy/Sadness first. Their capacity is much lower and the soonest you’d be able to get over there is 9:30am if you ride Soarin’ first thing. You’d then wait 30-60 minutes for the characters. Doing things the other way around, you should wait about ten minutes for the characters and about 20 for Soarin’. Not bad.
Here’s Test Track wait times:
Each blank box indicates about 15 minutes of downtime and while there is a lot more of it at Test Track, the good news is that it was operating at Park close every night during what is typically one of the wetter months. I have seen arguments that it makes more sense to start at Soarin’ because Test Track is more likely to be down at Park open. And while that is true on around four mornings out of the last 26, I’m not sure the chances of it happening are great enough that it’s what you want to do. It’s also down on three days at 9:45am, which is the time you’d be in line if you went to Soarin’ first thing.
So looking at updated priority according to the Epcot cheat sheet:
Frozen Ever After FastPass+ remain difficult to acquire even 60 days out and are far and away the highest priority at any Park. If you’re staying on-site, you’ll want to schedule Frozen on your Epcot day furthest from when you check in for the most availability. Granted I’m not checking right at 7am, but here in the middle of the afternoon there is literally no Frozen FP+ availability 30 days out.
Some Soarin’ merchandise:
I think the artwork on that shirt is more realistic than the CGI in the new “film.”
Sunshine Seasons has again moved away from serving hot breakfast, though they do have “continental” items available. Get it…continental items in the Land Pavilion…never mind. Starbucks/Fountain View would serve breakfast sandwiches and such and we’ll take a look at La Cantina breakfast in Mexico next.
That’s what’s going on in Future World.