Our morning at Epcot continues after setting the framework for what we are attempting to achieve in Part One, in addition to experiencing Test Track and Frozen Ever After in standby without too much trouble.
The big hassle with visiting Frozen Ever After early in the morning is its relatively-remote location in Norway. The rest of World Showcase doesn’t open until 11am so until then, the only things to do over here are ride the attraction, visit Kringla Bakeri og Kafe, meet Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus, use the restroom, browse a store, or head into the Stave Church for the Gods of the Vikings exhibit. Written out, that sounds like a lot, but most people are probably riding Frozen and then returning to Future World.
Here’s a look at Royal Sommerhus wait times, where you’ll be able to meet Anna and Elsa:
Interestingly, the longest waits of the day develop between 9:45am and 11:15am, when the average wait eclipses 30 minutes. The wait to meet Anna and Elsa is actually higher than Frozen Ever After in the early morning, which is likely due to lower capacity rather than increased demand. For that reason, it makes sense to visit the Arendelle elite later in the day and ideally, as late in the evening as possible. You’re looking at an actual wait of 15 to 25 minutes most of the day with the likelihood that it will be closer to ten minutes after 7pm.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Meet and Greet, see this post with a lot of pictures. It’s nicely done.
Looking back towards Norway at 9:48am, there’s quite a bit more traffic through here than we saw 25 minutes ago, prior to riding Frozen.
Things aren’t too bad at Test Track with the standby queue contained inside the building. While crowds and wait times are typically higher on Saturdays, it’s also a late-arriving crowd for the most part, which helps open our morning up.
An hour is probably about right.
Single rider is posted at 25 minutes and could be that long if a large tour group has entered the queue, which isn’t uncommon. Unfortunately, you can’t say for sure how long the single rider line actually is until you’re well-inside the building. Test Track’s seating arrangement, with two rows of three people each, benefits single riders much more than Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Expedition Everest, where you’ll find two people per row. A single rider will sit with every pair and two single riders will sit with each group of four. At the roller coasters, a single rider would only be seated with a single rider from standby/FastPass+ or groups of three, five, seven, and so on. All of those party sizes are less common than a pair or foursome.
If you’re trying to guarantee being followed around for an hour by undercover security, walk down this path to the left of Test Track and snap a few pictures of the space restaurant construction. This is about as far as I go.
Mission: SPACE is our next stop.
As you may recall, the Orange Mars Mission will always post a higher wait than the Green Earth Mission because Disney doesn’t want to push people to ride the more intense version because they think they’ll wait less.
Somewhat surprisingly, Mission: SPACE is actually the toughest Tier 2 FastPass+ experience to acquire. You’ll typically find very little to no availability the day before a given date, even for a party of one. With relatively low waits most of the day, the ride is easy enough to experience in standby, particularly if you’re interested in the Green Mission.
I’ve managed to capture Mission: SPACE’s essence pretty well in this picture, which shows us entering the Orange Team standby line at 9:55am with a 15-minute posted wait.
I would reassert my contention that the queue is one of the most underrated spaces on property.
Unfortunately, the large gravity wheel hasn’t spun in years.
The lack of movement does afford a better opportunity to snap some pictures.
Even with a minimal initial wait, Mission: SPACE takes about 25 minutes from the time you enter the queue to the time you’re queasily standing back out front.
We basically walked into the pre-show room.
Unfortunately, what was probably a protein spill caused our set of simulators to go down while we were watching the pre-show video, so we had to head into the other pre-show room and watch the same video again.
That caused a delay of about 15 minutes. I arrived at 9:55am and wasn’t back out front until 10:32am, for a total experience time of 37 minutes. It would have taken closer to 25 minutes if not for the pre-show switcheroo.
Here’s a look at Orange Team posted waits:
Poor Mission: SPACE, which doesn’t see an average wait above 20 minutes until 10:45am, or nearly two hours into operation. It makes sense to avoid the standby line from then until 12:45pm, but you’re looking at an actual wait of around 15 minutes most of the day. The trouble with securing FastPass+ may be due to a limited number of experiences being distributed for any particular time slot, which in turn gives more capacity to standby, resulting in shorter waits.
We’re heading to the other side of the Park.
Crowds are certainly picking up as we inch towards the fountain.
Character Spot is strange in that its posted wait is typically much longer than the actual wait will end up being. It’s still posting 45 minutes, despite the fact that there’s “literally” nobody in line. You can pretty easily assess the length of the line through the sliding doors before committing. With Character Spot currently a Tier 1 FastPass+ selection – the same as Test Track, Soarin’, Frozen Ever After, and IllumiNations, it makes sense to visit Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy at some point in standby. Long actual waits are somewhat rare.
Soarin’ Around the World is another inconveniently-located ride up the hill in the distance. We’ll be pairing a visit with Living with the Land, which is located next door, and we might also check out the cupcake situation at Sunshine Seasons.
Up we go.
While we might all have scoffed at the idea of needing FASTPASS at Living with the Land five or six years ago, the fact is that you’ll be waiting 15 to 35 minutes between 10:30am and 4pm most days.
A 30-minute posted wait at 10:40am is probably exaggerated by about ten minutes.
We’ll be using FastPass+ at Soarin’ first.
Where the posted wait is 80 minutes and the standby queue is actually backed up to the entrance.
With this many people waiting, 80 minutes is probably about right.
With FastPass+, we’ll be bypassing at least 85% of the wait, but you’re still going to wait between five and fifteen minutes in the corridor leading up to the pre-show. Then there’s the pre-show.
FLASH POLL: what is the worst part of soarin?
— josh (@easywdw) February 9, 2019
I should have added “All of the above.”
I was back outside the entrance at 11:07am for a total experience time of 27 minutes, which is a minute or two longer than average. The posted wait has gone down to “just” 60 minutes.
Here’s a look at posted waits over the last month:
The 42-minute overall average is surprisingly low for a major attraction. It’s also surprising to see that the posted wait is basically the same whether you get in line at 9:15am or 9:45am. Of course, the actual wait at 9:15am is probably lower than what you’d experience at 9:45am. Still, if you were to ride Frozen first and Soarin’ after, you’d be arriving around 9:30am, where the posted wait is typically between 15 and 25 minutes. Waits return to low levels in the final hour of operation as well. You could get in line at 8pm and at least 90% of the time be off the ride by 8:45pm, which would give you just enough to find a spot for IllumiNations. I’d recommend refreshing FastPass+ availability as Soarin’ often becomes available with more than 10,000 experiences distributed each day.
Cupcake reviews are big business these days, despite my hope that there’s a 0% chance anyone is going out of their way to visit the All-Star Sports for a dessert that’s probably already been switched out for something slightly different.
Probably just available for another week or so, this $6 “Seasonal Cupcake” caught my eye.
Themed to the Festival of the Arts, there’s quite a bit going on here that makes the cupcake look like a cross between a murder scene and Jackson Pollock’s drip period.
While the dessert is probably on the small side, I appreciated the surprising peanut butter flavor given the fact that nothing appears peanut-butter-esque. The pretzel paint brush, fondant painter’s palette, and colorful vanilla cake make this a fun cupcake to pass around and enjoy.
You also have the opportunity to drop $6.69 on this Fruit and Cheese Plate.
The Publix cheese aisle sends its regards.
Living with the Land was posting a 45-minute wait at 11:43am.
It’s probably closer to 15 or 20.
With FastPass+, I was on-board in about three minutes:
I was back out front at 12:03pm for a total experience time of 20 minutes, which is right around average. The posted wait is still 45 minutes, despite the fact that there’s very few people in line. The actual wait at this point would be under ten minutes, due in large part to the long posted wait deterring people from getting in line. Fortunately, Living with the Land is an attraction where you can quickly see how many people are actually in line, which isn’t going to be the case with The Seas with Nemo or Journey into Imagination with Figment, which we’ll happen upon shortly.
Here’s a look at Living with the Land’s posted waits:
It’s smart to avoid 10:30am to 1:30pm on low crowd days. On busier days, like January 19th and 20th, waits are going to be higher later into the afternoon. One thing worth noting is that Living with the Land usually closes at 7pm, but remains open through 9pm and into evening Extra Magic Hours on days when the Park hosts it. Our particular visit is on Saturday, February 9th, and you’ll notice that the posted wait drops from 40 minutes at 12pm to 10 minutes at 12:15pm to better align with reality.
Riding Living with the Land after dark is a bit of a surreal experience that I recommend if you have the chance. With the sun currently setting at 6:15pm, you’d be able to enjoy the ride shrouded in darkness with a visit sometime after 6:45pm on a regular day as well. That will be much less true come March 10th when we turn our clocks an hour ahead.
Flower and Garden is only about three weeks away.
We’ll head over to The Seas Pavilion.
Surprisingly, The Seas with Nemo is posting a 50-minute wait as the sky clouds over.
I was planning on coming over here to ride after Mission: SPACE, but our delay pushed us back far enough that it was time to head to The Land instead.
Here’s a look at wait times at all attractions on the day of my visit:
As I’ve mentioned before, low wait times are not always a benefit to us because they cause people to get in line, in turn pushing up the actual wait. Long posted waits are also a deterrent and if they’re posted long enough, actual waits are typically lower. Few people are getting into a Nemo line that’s posting 50 minutes. That phenomenon proves true from 12:15pm to 12:30pm, when the posted wait drops from 50 minutes to 15 minutes. Our 12:10pm arrival put us smack dab in the middle of the 50-minute span. If I was particularly interested, I could check on the physical length of the line by heading inside the building, but it would be kind of awkward backtracking if the line really was backed up near the entrance.
Here’s a look at The Seas with Nemo waits over the last month:
35- to 45-minute peak waits aren’t uncommon beginning as early as 11am and continuing until about 1pm. That makes a lot of sense given Epcot’s typical crowd flow with most people arriving at the main entrance between 9:45am and 11am. They’ll spend a couple of hours in Future World before giving up due to high wait times and head to World Showcase for lunch. Unlike Living with the Land, The Seas Pavilion stays open through 9pm. Nemo and Turtle Talk see nonexistent waits as early as 5pm, but almost certainly after 7pm. In a perfect world, you’d arrive for rope drop and tour Future World intelligently from 9am to 10:45am, before heading up to World Showcase from 11am to 5pm. Once 5pm rolls around, you’d return to Future World when waits are much lower than the afternoon.
Wreck-It Ralph and Vanellope will move over to the Imagination Pavilion later this week.
They had been meeting in this temporary location from late November.
Waits were typically 20 to 30 minutes.
Their new location inside the Imagination store, which doubles as the exit from Journey into Imagination with Figment, should give them more exposure. I’d expect waits to be between 25 and 35 minutes most of the day, not unlike the Monsters, Inc. Meet and Greet over at Hollywood Studios. People spend a lot more time taking pictures when there’s two characters involved, which is part of why we see longer waits for pairs.
Speaking of the Imagination Pavilion, we’ll head over to find a 30-minute wait for Figment, or the longest of the day, at 12:17pm.
Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival offers a nice opportunity to get off your feet in a reasonably-comfortable theater.
I like that the wait time sign actually counts down to the theater doors opening for the next show. Over at something like Muppet Vision 3D, the posted wait will almost always be five minutes, even if it’s going to be 17 minutes until the next show. You can always ask the cast member at the front how far off the next show is, or peek at their screen, but I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re trying to keep human contact to an absolute minimum.
I would reiterate my surprise at just how violent “Get A Horse” is, but “feast” is absolutely darling and “piper” is cute as a button.
We arrived at 12:17pm and found ourselves back out front at 12:48pm for a total experience time of about 30 minutes. Seeing the 3D clips certainly isn’t a “must do,” but it’s a nice diversion, particularly if you’ve been running around the Park for a few hours and want to get off your feet.
Figment’s wait has dropped to 20 minutes with the actual wait probably a few minutes lower.
Character Spot’s 20-minute posted wait is still about ten minutes overstated.
Crowds have dropped in Future World as we head towards 1pm. Most of the people that we saw around 11am have moved on to World Showcase.
We’re moving on to our third FastPass+ of the day at Spaceship Earth.
We prioritize FP+ here for a variety of reasons. First, wait times are longer than most other secondary attractions and our principal use of FP+ is to save the most time in line. Second, its location near the front of the Park is inconvenient and we won’t naturally pass it a we progress through our morning. If we were to ride Spaceship Earth first, a ride that takes about 20 minutes, then we’d be looking at a 60-minute wait at Test Track, a 30-minute wait at Soarin’, or a 25-minute wait for Frozen immediately after.
Third, the queue is often boring and unpleasant as it switches back outdoors. At least the queues for Living with the Land, The Seas with Nemo, Journey into Imagination, Mission: SPACE, etc. are indoors and climate-controlled.
The posted wait is just 25 minutes, which seems optimistic, particularly considering the fact that the ride was down for the first 2.5 hours of operation and a lot more people with FastPass+ are going to be returning into a shorter window.
With FastPass+, I’ll be on-board in three minutes:
I arrived at 12:59pm and was back out front at 1:21pm for a total experience time of 22 minutes, which is right around average.
Overall, my morning went well. I was able to accomplish:
- Test Track: 8:59am – 9:20am
- Frozen Ever After: 9:26am – 9:45am
- Mission: SPACE: 9:56am – 10:32am
- Soarin’ Around the World with FastPass+: 10:42am – 11:09am
- Cupcake Time: 11:10am – 11:40am
- Living with the Land with FastPass+: 11:43am – 12:03pm
- Disney Pixar Short Film Festival: 12:17pm – 12:48pm
- Spaceship Earth with FastPass+: 12:59pm – 1:21pm
While I didn’t wait more than ten minutes to experience any of these attractions, moving through the eight things still took almost four and a half hours with all of the pre-shows and time spent walking from attraction to attraction. With two days at Epcot, you probably want to compartmentalize things a lot more, focusing on one side of Future World each day along with half of World Showcase. I would have cut down on the amount of time I spent walking substantially by starting my day with Soarin’ and then staying on that side of the Park until 10:45am, when it’s time to head up to World Showcase to take advantage of the lowest crowds of the day. See this post for specific, timed one- and two-day touring plans.
With Ellen’s Energy Adventure and almost all of Innoventions East now closed, there isn’t a tremendous amount of stuff to do on the Test Track side. We could ride Test Track first thing in standby followed by a second ride in single rider, which would take a total of about 35 minutes. Mission: SPACE adds another 25 minutes. Then we could head over to Character Spot to meet the characters and then use FastPass+ at Spaceship Earth before heading up to Frozen Ever After to use FastPass+ and explore that side of World Showcase.
In Future World West, there should be plenty to occupy your time between the Imagination, Land, and Seas Pavilions.
We’ll finish things up at Hollywood Studios next.