I visited Epcot and Downtown Disney today to check out the Pixar Weekend events. Epcot was hosting evening Extra Magic Hours. According to the May Crowd Calendar, “Epcot is almost always at its busiest and lines are the longest when it has evening Extra Magic Hours.” It also states, “We’ll want to avoid Epcot today” and “I would urge you to visit a different Park.” Was that recommendation justified? Was Epcot really busier than other days this week? And what was Pixar Weekend like? Let’s have a look.
The turnstiles closest to the bag check on the left.
The turnstiles one bank over to the right.
The turnstiles to the far right.
The turnstiles on the left are the ones people immediately see after emerging from the bag check and are thus the most crowded. Look to your right for additional turnstiles that will be much less crowded. As you can see, people are lined up ten deep for no reason.
It’s the last weekend of the Flower and Garden Festival.
This is the line for Spaceship Earth at 8:50am, before Epcot opens. Remember, there is absolutely no reason to head to this attraction first thing in the morning because the wait is so short in the afternoon. You’ll want to head to either Soarin’ or Test Track in the morning, either to FASTPASS or ride in the standby line. If neither of those attractions are of interest, consider the Character Spot as a first stop. Spaceship Earth routinely has a wait of ten minutes or less after 12pm and that wait is usually closer to two minutes, even on a busy day like today.
Epcot rope drop usually occurs in front of the Fountain in Future World. Those headed to Soarin’ go right and those headed to Test Track go left.
Looks like most people got the memo that they should be headed right. This is most of the rope drop crowd headed to Soarin’ right at 9am.
A posted wait time at Soarin’ of 20 minutes at 9:07am. I prefer to get in line for Soarin’ first and then collect FASTPASSes on the way out unless I’m in the very front of the rope drop crowd, in which case I’ll get FASTPASSes first and then hit the standby line. Because the line and wait time build so fast as more people arrive, you may find a much longer standby wait by the time you collect FASTPASSes and proceed to the standby line.
Why is that? Because you never know when you’re going to get behind this lady. See those stacks of cards? Those are FASTPASSes for Soarin’ for her entire group. On one hand, it makes it easier for the rest of us because there aren’t 1,000 kids in the FASTPASS area, but it certainly isn’t a good idea to get behind her and a lot of people did before realizing she wasn’t going anywhere. She purportedly stood at that machine feeding it tickets for 35 minutes.
Here’s my FASTPASS collected around 9:40am. Because of the high crowd level, the FASTPASS return time is already more than two hours out.
Here we are at 9:43am with a standby wait time that’s already 45 minutes. Yesterday, when Epcot was the most recommended Park, the wait was 25 minutes.
The Butterfly House for the Flower and Garden Festival – unfortunately, it gets pretty light on the butterflies near the end of the event.
A very cool sand sculpture promo for African Cats.
Disney didn’t exactly push this Pixar Weekend very hard. Here we have one stack of Pixar Weekend pamphlets amongst a sea of the usual Epcot map.
The crowds behind me to get into World ShowPlace at 11am. The funny thing about lines is that when people see one, they get in it. I guarantee you that most of these people had no idea Pixar Weekend was going on. In fact, a lot of people asked if it was the line for the nearby pastry cart.
To Disney’s credit, they did let people enter the ShowPlace in order. They have a tendency to announce that no line exists and everyone should fill in the empty space two minutes before it’s time to file in. The meet and greets officially began at 11am. I got in line at about 10:35am and was 20th or so in line.
The red carpet leading into the ShowPlace was a nice touch.
Each of the surrounding billboards listed interesting trivia and easter eggs from the various Pixar films.
Check out the Unofficial Disney Character Hunt for better pictures of the characters than I took here: http://unofficialdisneycharacterhuntingguide.blogspot.com/2011/05/pixar-weekend-may-13-15-2011-at-epcot.html.
Overall, it was a fun meet and greet with a variety of characters that aren’t often found in Disney Parks. Boo and Mr. Potato Head were two of the favorites, along with the characters from Disney’s Up.
Going to be sad to see the topiary (topiaries?) leave. This is my favorite, but I’m a sucker for the Seven Dwarfs.
I decided to have lunch at La Cantina de San Angel in the Mexico World Showcase Pavilion. Unfortunately, this is the first meal in a while that I’ve been completely dissatisfied with. We all know about the “Disney upcharge” and how we can expect to pay a little extra, just because we’re at Disney World. However, you’re looking at an $11.95 Tacos De Carne entree. With a Coke and tax, this meal cost $15.64. While it looks pretty, note the lime wedge sitting in front of the three tacos. That isn’t Godzilla’s lime (thanks to Dr. Brian Noble for the phrase). We’re talking three tacos that barely span the length of a small lime wedge. To add insult to injury, the beef was dry and flavorless. While the tacos did have a nice flavor with the addition of the pico de gallo and salsa, it doesn’t make up for the small portion size and lack of quality in what should be the most important part of the dish. Each mini-taco was basically two to three bites. Are there a lot of chips? Sure, you would probably be plenty full if you ate all of the chips. But for $15.64, I want more than chips and a soda. I’ve had a few less than stellar meals at La Cantina recently and it’s dropped near the bottom of my quick service list, at Epcot and in Disney World overall. I just can’t recommend it. It would cost about $60 to feed a family of four here, which is just ludicrous. Add dessert and it’s $75+. Not recommended.
Another big part of Pixar Weekend is the addition of this “Race Around the World Showcase” game. Anyone can collect stickers from each of six different locations around World Showcase. Collect them all and receive a complimentary button.
Back to crowds for a moment. This is Sunshine Seasons inside the Land Pavilion at 12:30pm. There were so many people trying to find tables that most of Garden Grill was full of Sunshine Seasons diners as well.
A 95 minute wait for Soarin’ around 12:30pm with a FASTPASS return time of 6:51pm – 7:51pm. Yesterday, when Epcot was the most recommended Park, the wait time was 50 minutes and the FASTPASS return time was 3:15pm – 4:15pm. While this is somewhat inconsequential because any good easyWDW member would have ridden Soarin’ long ago, it helps illustrate the difference that just one day makes. Remember, virtually no one in Epcot has any idea that Pixar Weekend is going on and that isn’t why we’re seeing crowds that are this heavy. It’s simply due to the fact that it’s a Friday with evening Extra Magic Hours. Every Friday is like this.
Here we are walking to the Beach Club Resort from Epcot. Beach Club is just about a five minute walk away from Epcot’s International Gateway entrance/exit, making it the perfect resort for anyone that enjoys Epcot, especially during a major event like Flower and Garden or Food and Wine.
This is the Pixar Weekend Cars event that was taking place in Downtown Disney over the weekend. It was underwhelming. It’s basically a big State Farm Insurance advertisement with Cars characters that are available elsewhere (including back at Epcot and Hollywood Studios). On the plus side, it did come with a free key chain and pencil. The pictures with the Cars will also be uploaded to the internet and you will be provided with a special pin code to access your pictures for free, at which point you can print them or simply admire yourself on screen (as I often do). On the down side, the line moved frustratingly slowly because they only take one group through the pictures at a time. While the attention is nice, you can imagine how long it takes to move through people one at a time. I waited about 15 minutes before I gave up and maybe four groups had moved through the event area. The event with the muscle cars in the parking lot isn’t going on until Saturday and Sunday, so I wasn’t able to check that out today.
All in all, things were about as one might expect. Epcot was extremely busy, as predicted, and Pixar Weekend offered a nice opportunity for people who happened to be in Epcot to take pictures with a variety of rare characters.