We’ll skip ahead here to this afternoon at Epcot and then head off to Magic Kingdom for the return of the Enchanted Tiki Room in “Part 2.” I’ve still got lunch with David from yourfirstvisit.net at Liberty Tree Tavern and a look around Magic Kingdom, dinner at Columbia Harbour House and another look at Magic Kingdom, and then another day in there somewhere back at Magic Kingdom from this past week. But we might as well get quasi-caught-up rather than languishing in the past staring at wait times for Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook.
Here we are arriving at Epcot around 12pm. I’ll just echo what I’ve been saying – don’t get in line for Spaceship Earth until after 2pm if you can help it. Note the queue off to the right is full and people are winding their way around the area. We’ll take another look on our way out in a couple of hours.
Epcot is our most recommended Park today, so we can hope for relatively short wait times. These are similar to what we saw last Sunday and aren’t bad at all considering the time of day and overall crowd level. I’ll try to visit one of these days when Epcot is expressly “not recommended” to do a good side-by-side comparison. Maybe Tuesday. Test Track was down from about 11am to 4pm. There is a lot of question about whether Disney can swing a lengthy refurbishment of several months to “fix” Test Track. We’re talking a refurbishment that would most likely last from the second week in January through the end of July. There were similar questions regarding a major refurbishment of Kilimanjaro Safaris about a year ago and it was ultimately decided that Disney couldn’t close Kilimanjaro for seven months without a significant drop in attendance. However, Kilimanjaro at least operates smoothly, whereas Test Track continues to have mechanical problems. Test Track could certainly use a refurbishment to update the ride system, but it’s unclear whether a complete shutdown for months on end would be too detrimental to the, “Where are the rides?” crowd.
Here we are at a shut down Test Track. When a ride shuts down, the FASTPASS machines still operate and they go much quicker than when everything is going smoothly. People show up and not wanting to return to wait later, instinctively collect a FASTPASS. This is common at Space Mountain as well, which has a tendency to shut down for hours at a time, particularly in the morning. FASTPASS return times were already between 8pm and 9pm. which is about five hours further ahead than normal.
Headed up to the World Showcase.
On our way to Mexico.
The Norway Pavilion.
Maelstrom is the only World Showcase attraction to offer FASTPASS. It’s rare for FASTPASS return times to be any further into the future than 40 minutes and wait times are generally 10 minutes or less until around 1:30pm. From 2pm to 6pm, standby wait times can fluctuate between 15 and 30 minutes as more and more people enter World Showcase. If you see a wait time of 20+ minutes, consider grabbing FASTPASSes. There’s so much to do in nearby Mexico, Norway, and China that those 40 minutes will fly by.
This is the line to meet Mulan in China. You can sort of see Mulan in hte background there. Character Meet and Greet lines in the World Showcase are shorter than you’ll find in the other theme parks, generally speaking. To minimize wait times, take a look at your week’s Times Guide (this week’s available here: https://www.easywdw.com/times-guides/epcot-times-guide-august-14-august-20-2011/#more-4976) and identify which characters you want to meet. Because they appear at a staggered times beginning at 11am, it’s very easy to start in Mexico and move your way up through France hitting each character around when they begin appearing. For example, you could visit Mulan right after she begins appearing at 11:00am, then Snow White at 11:30am when she appears in Germany, then over to France for Princess Aurora and Belle also around 11:30am, and then over to Jasmine and Aladdin in Morocco at 12:15pm. You would be able to meet a lot of quality characters in a short period of time and also get a good look at World Showcase with minimal whining from your “little prince or princess.”
Lunch is at Sommerfest in the Germany Pavilion today. Sommerfest is located in the back of the Pavilion on the right side. Hopefully this professionally constructed diagram will help.
This is probably the least robust menu of any “major” Disney World quick service. It’s evident that they aren’t expecting a ton of people because there are only two cash registers and a dozen tables. Today, there was only one person working the register (though he was about seven feet tall) and only a couple of people in line.
This is the bratwurst and “authentic hand-twisted pretzel.” These pretzels are the best at Disney World (and huge) and the bratwurst is one of the cheaper entrees available in any of the Parks. Don’t discount Sommerfest just because you don’t “like” sauerkraut. First of all, they’re happy to serve it without sauerkraut. Second, it’s a mild sauerkraut. For example, I don’t like sauerkraut. Even the thought of sauerkraut makes me a little nauseated. But I like Sommerfest’s sauerkraut. Maybe that means I like sauerkraut, I don’t know. Anyway, this is the only place I’ll eat it. For the slightly less adventurous, the frankfurter is basically a hot dog. If you’d like to eat here and you’re uncertain whether junior will oblige you, you might just sit him down away from the menu and tell him that you’ll bring him a hot dog. I also like the fact that on the Disney Dining Plan you can order the pretzel as your “dessert.” And because there’s no “kid’s menu,” you’ll have no problem ordering the kids the full-size entree. Overall, I really enjoy Sommerfest and it’s an excellent choice for a quick, relatively inexpensive meal.
Sommerfest has very little seating. There are a lot of outdoor tables at Italy next door (if the pizza window isn’t open, as it usually isn’t) and a few benches and ledges here and there. Even with few tables available, there were still several open at 1:30pm today.
Let’s take a look around the Pavilion while we’re here. I don’t want you bypassing Germany just because there isn’t an “attraction,” after all. Or maybe you can bypass it now that you’ve seen everything? Either way.
Snow White appears intermittently throughout the afternoon and early evening. As you walk from China and the Outpost, she appears in the back left corner before you come to any of the shops or restaurants. From Italy, she’s located in the back right corner after you pass all of Germany’s restaurants and shops on your way to China.
Germany has two carts outside. The first is right on the promenade as you can see World Showcase Lagoon in the background. The second is inside the Pavilion’s courtyard on the right side. There’s a lot of overlap with the menu choices, but there are some subtle differences.
These shots are from Der Teddybar (fun to say), which sells bears, toys, kids clothing, and other assorted furry goods. A lot of high quality Steiff branded items are sold here. You’ll also find the Kidcot station inside on the left. Dar Teddybar (still fun to say) is located directly to the right of Somerfest – apparently I forgot to photograph the exteriors to the right of the restaurants. I guess that makes this only a three-quarters tour.
You’ll find a lot of beer steins and other various glassware intended to hold liquor, beer, and wine on the way to your lips. Also a lot of apparel that says Germany on it. And books about Germany.
This is Volkskunst (more difficult to say and please make sure you pronounce the second ‘s’ strongly), one of my personal favorite stores, and one where I will most certainly never be able to afford anything from. These gorgeous cuckoo-clocks are handmade in Germany. Maybe someday.
Rounding out the right side of the Germany shops is a clothing store full of Adidas and Puma apparel. Handy if you need a new pair of shoes or hat, I suppose.
That’s better. I like it when we have a picture of the exterior of the interior that we are looking at. It makes me feel more grounded. This is the Kunstarbeit In Kristall store, which is the furthest store in the Pavilion on the left side, just before you would enter Biergarten. There’s a great variety of crystal items in here, including Swarovski and Arrabas Brothers items. More beer steins and other stuff too. It’s not all expensive either (though most of it is).
A look inside the Weinkeller, where you can buy wine by the bottle or glass. Remember that anyone can use Package Pickup (where they send your purchased item to the front of the Park for pickup) and Disney Resort guests can take advantage of Package Delivery (where Disney will deliver your purchased items to your resort). There’s no reason to lug a heavy beer stein or fragile bottle of wine all over Epcot – unless you’re in a race back to your hotel to consume it, of course).
Stein Haus, with more beer steins and apparel.
Die Weihnachts Ecke, the Christmas Store in the Germany Pavilion. Maybe people would think the Germans are friendlier if the names of their Christmas stores didn’t start with “Die?” I’m just saying. It was relatively slim pickings at the Christmas store today – I was surprised. Usually these stores are stocked top to bottom with stuff. Nonetheless, there are some high quality goods as you can see.
The popular Karamell Kuche opened its doors on September 30th, 2010. It joins a lot of “goody-joints” in the World Showcase, including the popular Boulangerie Patisserie and Kringla Bakeri og Kafe.
Last one I promise. This is the Glaskunst kiosk outside on the promenade. More steins, shot glasses, and whatnot. Sunglasses are also popular here.
This it the “main attraction” in Germany – the miniature train set. It’s a lot of fun for kids and enthusiasts.
On our way through the American Adventure to Japan to check out the Yakitori House refurbishment.
The newly opened Kabuki Cafe (kakigori stand) is unaffected.
The entirety of Yakitori House is behind construction walls until mid-November.
This snack cart has a new menu – beer, plum wine, more sake options than you’ll find elsewhere, and an assortment of “pea snacks” as listed.
This is the temporary “Yakitori House” outside on the promenade, offering limited options. It would suffice if you’re hellbent on teriyaki or sushi.
On our way through the United Kingdom and Canada Pavilions.
Here we are on our way out around 2:30pm. I told you no one was going to be in line, didn’t I? It’s a walk-on now.
The Monorail over to the Ticket/Transportation Center and then over to Magic Kingdom for Enchanted Tiki Room.