We’ll meander a bit around Epcot on the afternoon of April 5th on a pretty afternoon as temperatures heat up and then cool back down. Monday’s high was an even 90 degrees, while today’s is 75. There is really nothing of much value in this post in case you have more pressing matters.
Flower and Garden continues for about five more weeks as the Park enjoys its prettiest season of the year.
MagicBands and their accessories are infiltrating every orifice of the Parks.
MagicBands are available to all guests for $12.95 a pop. I am not real sure why anyone would want one considering they don’t do anything your ticket doesn’t and trying to press “Mickey head to Mickey head” is more of a hassle than simply pulling out and scanning a ticket.
But they are there if you want them. And also there if you don’t want them as the case may be. I’ve worn my MagicBand inside the Parks maybe two times. And when I say “my MagicBand,” I mean one of the 15 or so I’ve collected over various resort stays and Disney insisting on sending me one every other week for one reason or another.
Chairman of Disney’s Parks and Resorts Division, Thomas O. Staggs, made a rare appearance on the Parks Blog last week announcing some major news: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2014/04/mymagic-now-available-to-walt-disney-world-resort-hotel-and-day-guests/:
As expected, most of our guests think that securing times to ride our attractions is one of the best ways to maximize the fun of a Walt Disney World Resort vacation. We’ve heard from a number of guests that they would like the opportunity to add additional FastPass+ entitlements during their visit, in addition to the three they can plan in advance. So, we’re working on providing them with the ability to add and enjoy additional entitlements on the day of their visit. Once they’ve used the three they’ve booked, we’ll enable them to select another at kiosks in the parks. And once they’ve used the fourth, they can select another, and so on. We also heard that other guests liked the fact that with the FASTPASS service they could use FASTPASS when they park hopped. So we’re working on a service enhancement to add that feature to FastPass+ as well.
This is not necessarily good news. When people say “We need more FastPass+,” they are not talking about you or I. They’re talking about themselves. As we saw in How FastPass+ is Affecting Wait Times, guests arriving at attractions with FP+ priority are having a significant impact on many secondary attractions, to the point where waits at it’s a small world, Spaceship Earth, and DINOSAUR have basically doubled under the new system. FastPass+ is great when you have one and sucks when you don’t, much like traditional FASTPASS. The ability to schedule more and more and more FP+ into the evening means more people with priority and longer waits in standby lines.
It remains to be seen how this new wrinkle will be implemented. Right off the bat, it makes it sound like FP+ for nighttime spectaculars are a serious waste as the implication is that you have to use all three of your FP+ before a fourth becomes available. You might plan a Peter Pan’s Flight FP+ for 1pm – 2pm, an Enchanted Tales with Belle FP+ at 2pm, and an Electrical Parade FP+ for 8:25pm. As written, you would not be able to schedule a fourth FP+ until you use your Electrical Parade FP+ nearly seven hours after Enchanted Tales. It also doesn’t mention how far in advance a fourth FP+ could be scheduled. At the moment, you can enter Magic Kingdom at 2pm, head to the Town Square FP+ kiosk at 2:05pm, and schedule a FP+ for as early as 2:10pm. If your third FP+ window ends at 5:05pm, can you schedule one for 5:10pm – 6:10pm? And then another at 6:15pm or immediately after?
We’ll cross this bridge when it comes. My advice remains to schedule three priority FP+ attractions beginning in the late morning when crowds peak. FP+ earlier are useless for most attractions as they’re either walk-ons or you want to be riding some of the secondary attractions early before waits develop. Trying to schedule 9am, 10am, and 11am FP+ will result in each one saving less time, in addition to spending precious morning touring time using unnecessary FP+ when standby at secondary attractions will be short. By the time you can theoretically select a fourth FP+, many of the top selections will be gone, including Toy Story Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Soarin’, and Test Track most days. Over the busy spring break season, Soarin’ and Test Track were routinely out of FP+ by noon.
It’s 1pm on a Saturday in almost exactly average attendance at Epcot with an overall crowd level of “6.” This is the calm before the storm as Easter looks to again be completely nuts. We snuck our way onto one of the last remaining times for Test Track at 6:25pm – 7:25pm.
Florida Lager has made its way to Future World. It’s an average-at-best lager similar to Sam Adams Boston Lager.
FP+ kiosk lines should be much less of a problem now that everyone (other than cast members using their maingates) can prebook and change their FP+ selections via the app or website. Still, the more obscure the location, the fewer people that will be there.
Further down toward the Land Pavilion, even more cast members are ready to help.
On the Imagination side too. So much for FP+ reducing staffing levels as we have over a dozen cast members largely twiddling their thumbs at $8.52 per hour each.
Unnecessary ropes force guests to the right upon entering the Land Pavilion and make it difficult to cross near Garden Grill. Since wheelchairs and scooters have to cross over to get to the elevator, it is more than a little silly. Add another cast member to undo the rope every 30 seconds.
Living with the Land waits are up a bit with daily FastPass+. It used to offer FASTPASS under the busiest conditions. This line is about ten minutes long.
Living with the Land’s FP+ machines are located just to the right of the standby entrance.
We’ll continue around to the right.
And walk right on.
Living with the Land is one of the lower priority Tier 2 FP+ experiences. Most people will want to select Spaceship Earth and Mission: SPACE.
From the same family as the spaghetti tree.
Hopefully this shot will finally put the website on the map. The key to photography is tilting every shot.
Your average 70 minute wait for Soarin’.
Fortunately things are not quite as bad at Journey into Imagination as they are at many secondary attractions, perhaps due to its relatively remote location, despite “literally” being just a few feet from Soarin’.
Pretend like I Photoshopped a monorail on.
Flower and Garden kiosks…excuse me…”Outdoor Kitchens” remain strikingly unpopular as the ropes are down and one register has already been removed on this side at Hanami in Japan. The one gentleman in the frame is asking for directions.
Frushi from Japan remains one of the most popular items – a cool, refreshing, and-not-overly-sweet few bites.
One item we skipped previously is this e $3.25 Japanese puffed rice cakes with green tea whipped cream and azuki. A reminder that the website reviews basically every item on every menu in this post with a link to Part 1. It is perhaps the sprinkles that make it Japanese. This is a good portion for the money, though the rice cake portion seemed stale and lacked much crunch, perhaps due to the fact that they don’t sell any of these outside of the blogosphere. We enjoyed it as a little ice cream sandwich, though your money may better be spent on The American Dream up at Fife and Tavern. I can appreciate Disney and its third parties wanting to go with fresh vegetables and interesting names for Flower and Garden, but it seems clear that it isn’t working. This would sell much better as a “Japanese Ice Cream Sandwich – Green Tea Ice Cream with Raspberry Sauce and Whipped Cream In Between Frosted Rice Cakes.” You get that one for free, Disney.
I gave the $4.95 Temaki hand roll – Sliced Panko fried chicken, curry sauce, rice and pickled julienne carrots wrapped with Nori another try. It is the same curry, panko-fried chicken, and rice that you’ll find inside the quick service at Katsura Grill.
Said $12.99 Chicken Cutlet Curry from Katsura Grill. Not the most visually appetizing dish, but the curry is mild and this is more food than it looks. It remains easier to grab a $5 sushi roll outside, but if you like the flavors or are looking for something with more heft, Katsura Grill is a good option for the curry.
For the sake of bloggability, I headed for Liberty Inn in the U.S. Pavilion for their Southwest Chicken Salad, a version of which I had already tried and liked at Pecos Bill. I ordered simply “The Chicken Salad” and ended up with this Caesar Salad instead. Such is life. This is just your basic Caesar with a sliced chicken breast over crunchy romaine, Ken’s Caesar dressing, and a lot of croutons.
It will do the job if you’re in the mood and refuse to try something more interesting, but it’s as forgettable as food comes, for better or worse.
Lisa tried the Three cheese manicotti – Egg pasta stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, tomato sauce and béchamel – $5.75. They are made well ahead of time elsewhere and kept warm at the booth. It is a hearty dish, perhaps made less hearty without the typical meaty marinara they ordinarily serve at Food and Wine.
I am not sure it is unique enough to drop nearly six bucks on, but you can always try to mimic this ridiculous shot as a bonus.
Each day around 3:15pm, the bridge in between China and Germany raises and the Disney fireworks team drives the globe and the fireworks barges out into World Showcase Lagoon.
It’s far more interesting than the show itself LOL
Norway is legitimately out of control. You’re looking at the beginning of the line for Anna and Elsa.
A few guests at a time are walked from here next to Akershus over to the rest of the line at the Puffin’s Roost.
The rest of the Pavilion with a 40 minute wait at Maelstrom and the waterfall behind generic brown tarps.
Straight out of the camera.
Single rider waits at Test Track continue to be exaggerated. Here at 3:45pm, the posted standby wait is 50 minutes as the line spills out the door.
Single rider is listed at 45 minutes.
Of course, this turned out to be greatly exaggerated as we could see the loading platform before we encountered an actual line in single rider.
Exactly 10 minutes after getting in line, we were ready to vroooooom.
This remains the only website where you will be updated on this hole.
Confusion remains how standby, FP+, and single rider work in regards to who goes through the design process. Standby and FP+ users are both funneled into the same design rooms. Designing a vehicle via the kiosks takes less than five minutes. Being the last person out of this room instead of the first will result in about three minutes longer waiting in the next room. In other words, try to just chill out. Single riders do not go through the full design process as part of the queue. They have an opportunity to scan their MagicBand/RFID ticket and select a pre-made vehicle. This takes about 30 seconds. Single riders have the option to design a vehicle near the ride exit as indicated above.
Three kiosks are available. Scan your MagicBand/RFID ticket and design a vehicle before proceeding through single rider if you like. Single riders can also skip choosing a pre-made vehicle easily if they so choose by simply walking through the area.
A prime example of “what were they thinking.”
See you at the outlets.
I <3 this 1 tho
Character Spot waits continue to be short to nonexistent later in the day. This is 4:15pm and there is literally nobody in line.
The fact that it’s a Tier 1 FP+ precludes it from being considered by the vast majority of guests. At least as long as you don’t arrive late and it’s the only option.
The Great Piggy Bank Adventure is located in Innoventions West.
It’s an extremely cute way to introduce topics like inflation and diversification to kids.
Each station is a video game of sorts with animated pigs and wolves.
Better yet, you’ll carry around an actual piggy bank throughout your adventure.
Here he is being launched into the game before it begins.
It’s a really fun diversion in the middle of the day when crowds and temperatures peak, particularly if you have some time to kill before a FP+ as we did. Expect to wait five to ten minutes at peak times.
For the older or uninterested, there is a wall of PS3s and Disney games near the exit. Remember that a one-day ticket costs over $100 to get into Epcot and there are people waiting to play the Wall-E game on PS3.
FP+ continues its destruction on Spaceship Earth as we look at a 20-minute wait at 4:50pm.
FastPass+ puts you through a short winding queue before you arrive at the second set of scanners.
You then march up the usual ramp. I will mention that FP+ is a little different as you’ll be looking directly at the standby guests you’re “cutting” in front of before continuing on. Ordinarily, Disney tries to have FP+ either hidden from standby riders or both sets facing the same direction to minimize unruly confrontations:
The joys of ISO 25,600 on a 35mm F1.4 lens.
Not a whole lot going on as the FastPass+ landscape continues to change. One wonders if it will ever be “it.”