We pick things back up at Epcot.
It’s 9:55am on Friday, July 26th. In Part One, we checked out all of the construction and changes that are coming to the Park’s front entrance along with a good look at what to expect from rope drop. Part Two followed with seeing how long it takes to ride Test Track and Soarin’ back to back, along with our consideration of many of the construction projects that will begin here before the year is up.
Living the dream pic.twitter.com/I3g3ptcKI7
— josh (@easywdw) July 26, 2019
Living with the Land remains a walk-on just before 10am. At 11am, the average wait hovers around 20 minutes most of the year, with 30+ minute posted waits not uncommon.
I lucked into a front row seat after waiting just about 60 seconds:
I was back out front at 10:15am for a total experience time of 17 minutes, which is right around the minimum amount of time that the ride takes. On busier days, you’ll want to get here by 10:30am.
Or you’ll risk running into something like this at 10:45am. You can usually tell if a ride is going to be seeing longer-than-usual waits based on the number of day-of FP+ available. If there’s no FP+ available for Living with the Land in the morning, then you’re going to want to get over there by 10:30am because FP+ priority is going to be bogging down the standby line. If FP+ is plentiful, then you’re safe arriving later in the morning. On this particular day, morning FP+ availability was wide open, indicating I was going to be just fine.
I’m not sure whether the first half or the second half of Living with the Land is most people’s favorite. I prefer the ever-changing second half with a look at plants, fruits, and vegetables that I’ve never seen growing before. Erin prefers the first half, probably because of the dog.
Soarin’ is up to a paltry 20 minutes at 10:16am, which is about half of the average wait at this time slot for the year. That’s July at Epcot for you.
I’m not a big advocate of the theme park breakfast. From a touring efficiency perspective, wait times only go up, and if you spend 20 or more minutes eating breakfast after the Park opens, you’re just going to wait that much longer at your next couple of attraction stops. Of course, the rides and character meets may not be as big of a priority as the Ciabatta French Toast that you’ll find at Sunshine Seasons. Something like the Breakfast Croissant is probably on the portable side and one of the Kids’ Meals may be filling enough without spoiling that Via Napoli lunch.
Sometimes I play Souffle Frisbee with the other bloggers. It’s better if you don’t tell them that you’re playing before you fling it.
Sunshine Seasons is offering an “Annual Passholder exclusive” treat through August 28th, which I’m sure is not coincidentally the day before the Food and Wine Festival starts. It’s this Ice Cream Sandwich, which seems like a reasonable value at $4.39 given its size.
If you’re wondering just how dead Epcot is these days, Disney has actually done the unthinkable, and discounted beer. Annual Passholders receive 10% off at Block & Hans and Fife & Drum in the United States Pavilion through August 18th. That makes this beer flight from Block & Hans *checks notes* “just” $10.35 for four 4-ounce cups. Here’s Disney’s official announcement of the discounts, which includes a couple more, including a complimentary dessert at Coral Reef and some exclusive PhotoPass opportunities here.
Back to The Land, there are quite a few people taking advantage of the Sunshine Seasons breakfast and/or sitting Soarin’ out. I’d sit it out too, just on principle, if I had a choice.
I would call your attention to the Behind the Seeds tour, the desk for which you’ll find at Living with the Land’s exit and to the right of the entrance into Soarin’. For $25/adult and $20/child, it’s one of the least expensive tours available. It will take you…behind the scenes at Living with the Land for about an hour, visiting the various greenhouses and the fish farm.
The actual wait for Living with the Land looks to be up to a couple of minutes at 10:23am. On a busier day, you’d still be okay at this point, but you’re looking at an actual wait closer to 15 minutes. By noon, it’s not uncommon for the wait to be 40ish minutes. You’ve got additional people coming in for lunch at Sunshine Seasons, along with the people wanting to ride after Soarin’, or instead of Soarin’, given longer waits there.
I was happy to see “Grilled Beef Chimichurri” on the Garden Grill menu in place of the Pot Roast that they had been serving for the last year-plus. $52 for a Pot Roast lunch is pretty rough any way you look at it. It’s been a while since I’ve been here, so it’s probably time for a return. My girlfriend Erin and I actually met here a little over three years ago. You can pull up that review (of the meal, not her) here. It’s among my favorite character meals because it’s served family-style, so you don’t have to get up to get the food, and the restaurant’s circular layout offers a lot more privacy than the open dining rooms of most other character meals, like Crystal Palace or ‘Ohana breakfast.
It’s 10:24am as we head back down towards the rest of Future World.
The Pavilion hasn’t been demolished while we were inside, which is always nice. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if there is a proposal out there to potentially knock down the majority of The Land Pavilion, flatten the area, and build something else. It’s a bit of a climb up there with no strollers allowed inside. But Garden Grill is a popular restaurant, and at $52 an adult for what probably still resembles pot roast, you’d have to think that the receipts from dinner cover the operating costs of the Pavilion alone. And perhaps then some. Living with the Land is a gem and you’ve got $25 tours all day helping to supplement it. Sunshine Seasons continues to serve a very good breakfast and the grill items for lunch and dinner, like the Pork Loin, Salmon, and Rotisserie Chicken, remain some of your best quick service options anywhere at Walt Disney World.
My first FastPass+ is for The Seas with Nemo for 9:45am – 10:45am. It will prove largely useless today, but on a day with above average crowds, it would save me about 20 minutes in line around 10:45am. Because I have FP+ protection over there, I’m headed to Journey into Imagination first.
The souvenir popcorn bucket refill promotion continues and now you can officially get a flavored popcorn refill here, which adds a little value.
This cart is outside the Imagination Pavilion.
They’ll typically offer you a sample of each flavor, at which point you can grab a bite of the three flavors and make a run for it. In the unlikely scenario that they tackle you to the ground and demand the popcorn back, just tell them that you mistook the Park for Costco. No jury would convict.
There’s quite a bit of work continuing on this side of Epcot already, both widening the path that leads to World Showcase over here and installing some of the Food and Wine Festival kiosks that never really go away given the number of Festivals these days.
But these kinds of walls are what we’re going to see all over Future World beginning this fall. It’s far from the end of the world, of course, but it’s going to detract from the overall experience.
One of my favorite Food and Wine Festival items, in the Piggy Wings, won’t be returning to Flavors From Fire this year. Fortunately, there is an all-you-can-eat option at Whispering Canyon, as reviewed here.
They’ve got less than a month to clear most of this stuff out.
A couple more views:
The Fountain is still pristine, at least. Supposedly, there is a “secret announcement” of a major upcoming project at this year’s D23 Expo.
“Rumors” have persisted for years that big changes are coming to the Imagination Pavilion. At one point a couple of years ago, cast members working the Pavilion were told of its imminent closure and Disney was actively working on reassigning them to other positions, only for those plans to fall through. As unpopular as the Imagination Pavilion attractions are, you’d think that it would be ripe for a…re-imagination. But with all of the other projects about to get underway, it could be another ten years before we see any substantial improvements.
I like the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival as an easy way to get off your feet in a comfortable, air-conditioned theater for about 15 minutes. This picture graces us from a June 2017 entry, the title of which began, “There’s Nobody at Epcot.” Light summer crowds are nothing new here.
The Disney Visa Meet and Greet is also still up here with current hours of 1pm to 7pm.
Two out of four characters typically meet from the pool of Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto. PhotoPass digital downloads are included.
We’re approaching Journey into Imagination at 10:29am with a 10-minute posted wait.
But there was literally nobody in the queue and I had the entire ride vehicle to myself, despite not having to demand it:
My total experience time, including a minute or two of picture-taking in the queue, was ten minutes.
Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope continue meeting at the “Tech Expo” inside the store attached to Journey into Imagination. With the low crowds, there looks to be about eight groups in line, which should translate to a 12- to 15-minute wait.
A variety of soft sleepy-time character plush are coming out at the $35 price point.
Figment is particularly precious.
You can also access the Ralph meet from the doors leading into the ImageWorks/store.
And you may be one of about six people at the Short Film Festival at this point in the morning.
Toy Story 4 has grossed over 400 million dollars domestically, making it the third-highest money maker so far this year. That’s still less than half of the 856+ million that Avengers: Endgame brought in.
here’s what universal didn’t want to announce just yet pic.twitter.com/Ki22h930Oy
— josh (@easywdw) August 1, 2019
If Endgame could have had a monorail, they might have made a billion. We can discuss it at “The Courthouse.”
We may see Mickey and Goofy move inside this portion of Innoventions West next month. This is where Wreck-It Ralph previously greeted guests.
Looking back at the (still standing) Land Pavilion at 10:46am, the posted wait for Soarin’ remains just 35 minutes. That’s probably longer than we’d like to wait, but your typical tourist is probably happy.
We’re heading to The Seas Pavilion for The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
It’s a cute little ride that will take us comfortably into the Pavilion.
At 10:48am, the posted wait is 20 minutes, which is about ten minutes below average.
This picture of the standby line doesn’t do a great job of capturing its length, but it was basically a walk-on.
On busier days, the actual wait for Nemo can hit 30 minutes by 10:30am and as many as 50 minutes by 11am. Above is proof.
With FastPass+, I’m basically walking right on.
Our poor friend still doesn’t poke his head out.
But there isn’t much going on out here anyway. Maybe they will take a peek on September 9th.
My total experience time ended up being just nine minutes. In standby, it probably would have been about twelve minutes. It’s not exactly the best use of FP+ given these crowds, but I need to either use or let expire my two Tier 2 FP+, in addition to my original Tier 1 FP+, before I’ll be able to pick out a fourth FP+, which can be another Tier 1 selection. Because of that, I need to use a Tier 2 FP+ somewhere and The Seas with Nemo around 11am makes a lot of sense given heavier crowds. On a day like today, it would have made sense to use it at Mission: SPACE Orange/Mars. My other FP+ experiences are Spaceship Earth and Frozen Ever After. After using them, I’ll be able to book any available FP+, which could mean being able to ride Test Track, Soarin’, or Frozen a second time or I could book IllumiNations, which has become more popular now that we know the last show will be offered on September 30th of this year.
If all-you-can-drink beer at Rose and Crown, a three-course meal, and a guaranteed table outside on the Rose & Crown patio sounds like it might be of interest, then you should check out this review.
There’s wine and a cocktail selection too.
I always like to go upstairs to check out the manatees.
It’s hard to tell because I am bad at this, but one of the manatees was resting their head on the other as they swam around the tank. June’s “rumors” also included the teardown of The Seas Pavilion, which potentially makes more sense. The cost of maintaining the tanks must be on the high side compared to the amount of money that the Pavilion adds to Disney’s all-important bottom line. Still, the cost of razing the building, plus finding new homes for all the animals, along with the bad press, seems like it’s a nonstarter.
Apparently, some of the carpet is being replaced in here.
A pretty exciting conclusion to this post, if I do say so myself.
Looking down on what hasn’t been replaced, it could probably use it.
The Huskies…#12 in the pre-season Coaches Poll.
When the cornbread is delivered to the table at Boatwright’s.
Around to the right of the entrance to The Seas with Nemo, you’ll find the entrance to Coral Reef.
The current menu, which is actually heavy on seafood, is a big departure from what we’ve recently seen. It’s probably a good time to get back over there as well. If you come away without food poisoning, it’s probably time to buy a lottery ticket. On the other hand, lightning never strikes the same place twice.
The kids have some good options, too.
In the next part, we’ll take a look at some more construction projects and ride Spaceship Earth, where using FP+ will actually save us some time.