In order to mix things up a bit, we’ll take a look at some things going on that don’t have anything to do with FASTPASSes or the Flower and Garden Festival. This isn’t for your benefit or enjoyment. I would just like to type about something else for a moment or two.
The Resort and Magic Kingdom Express Monorail may be closed from 11:30am to 6pm through the end of the month. The Grand Floridian Resort’s Disney Vacation Club construction is the cause. Just another reason to hate anyone staying there.
You can see here that both entrances to the Monorails are shut. I’m not sure why Disney decided it was necessary to set up all of these ropes in the middle of the afternoon.
Disney has set up alternative bus transportation to the right of the Epcot Monorail Station. This would be faster than the ferry. The trip is less than five minutes long and we have three completely empty buses waiting. It’s important to note that the Monorails will be running as usual from 7am – 11:30am and 6pm through one hour after regular close. Most people staying on the Monorail line will ride the Monorail in the morning and then most likely again in the evening. Disney had about a dozen buses waiting in the Transportation and Ticket Center’s bus parking lot if they were needed to transport additional guests. Should you be leaving Magic Kingdom in the middle of the day and don’t want to ride a stinky old bus, I would recommend the ferry boats. It’s an extremely pleasant trip out on the water. Disney also boosted the number of boats servicing the Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian resorts.
There had been a question over at the easyWDW Forums regarding whether or not there was coffee outside the turnstiles at Epcot. The answer is “Yes,” though it wouldn’t surprise me if most people had no idea this existed. The kiosk is in just about the least obvious location possible. The great majority of people will arrive at Epcot over at the Main Bag Check arrow, take a right toward the main entrance, and head to one of the turnstiles. Very few people will turn the corner, look over their shoulder, and notice this box hiding behind a wall almost completely out of view. If you’re looking for Disney coffee or a quick snack while you wait for Epcot to open, this is your only choice. Lines are usually short. If Epcot is open, you’ll probably want to grab something inside the Park.
Here’s the menu and a closer look:
There is a virtually identical location at the Transportation/Ticket Center to the left of the Resort Monorail entrance. At Animal Kingdom, you’ll see this better themed kiosk on the right side as you approach bag check. I’m not aware of a similar offering over at Hollywood Studios. Your closest location would be over at the BoardWalk, which is really quite a trek away. We’ll take a look momentarily.
Switching gears a bit, we’re back at Hollywood Studios on March 7th at 8:28am, which was a “not recommended day.”
The lines to the turnstiles were already backed up past the ticket windows. That’s a ton of people waiting to get in over 30 minutes before the official open.
Buses to Animal Kingdom and the front entrance of Epcot were already running before 8:30am in the Studios’ charter bus lot. I can’t imagine anyone would ride them at this hour, but they do exist and operate if you get on the wrong bus or something.
Heading over to the International Gateway entrance at Epcot from Hollywood Studios. It’s a solid 20 to 25 minute walk depending on your route. I have an extended look at the walk over including my favorite shortcut and lots of red arrows here if you have interest. That also includes a better look at what I was able to accomplish in the early morning after entering through the International Gateway. Spoiler: It’s just about the same as what I accomplished entering through the main entrance.
The BoardWalk Inn’s Feature Pool. Warning: A picture of the clown slide is coming up.
A small play area attached.
A hot tub.
The wooden roller coaster themed pool slide is a lot of fun.
If the nightmares don’t keep you coming back, I don’t know what will.
Based solely on aesthetics, this is my favorite of the Disney pool bars, though I love the room on the one over at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Uzima Pool Complex.
A sign outlining the breakfast options since the BoardWalk Inn/Villas has no traditional quick service location inside the resort. BoardWalk bakery is your best bet, though it isn’t uncommon to see the line extend well out the door in the morning.
Unfortunately, I’m running a bit behind. This is 8:53am and the turnstiles are already open. The turnstiles opened just after 8:45am – the same time as the main entrance, where people are usually allowed into Epcot at 8:47am. I’ll do another formal International Gateway rope drop later this week. My main goal today was to check out the Flower and Garden Festival and FASTPASS situation.
This fountain is the bane of my existence.
I think my good looks set it off. You can kind of see how far the water sprays onto the walkway, which is always just far enough to soak my camera.
By 9:30am, the posted wait time was 20 minutes at the Character Spot.
With each person/group taking a minute or two with each character, it doesn’t take much for wait times to skyrocket. Waits will only get longer, quite possibly making this your top priority if you’re interested in meeting the fab five in their classic attire. Otherwise, plan to arrive after 8pm or prepare to wait for 40 to 60 minutes. Even so, it isn’t necessarily a terrible deal since you get to meet all five characters with just the single lengthy wait.
A lot of people headed up to Soarin’ at 9:35am. Almost looks like the rope drops of old around here.
Posted wait times at 9:35am:
Soarin’ in particular is already getting up there.
About two weeks ago I had pointed out a Breakfast Panini at Sunshine Seasons and mentioned that it “sure looks good.” There were conflicting reports as to whether or not it tasted like feet.
Dan Young: “DON’T EAT THE PANINI no matter how hungry you are! I had it once about a year ago, and it featured a cheese that tasted like FEET! Maybe it was just an off day and they’ve improved it, but I was burned so badly by this that I don’t think I’ll be trying it again in the near future.”
Not sure if you can really trust someone named “Anonymous,” but they countered: “We thought the panini was really good and a nice change from the usual.”
Karen: “My mother and I had the panini on our most recent trip. We both didn’t like it very much. It was too savory and heavy for our tastes.”
And another Anonymous: “I have to disagree with you here, Josh, that salmon sandwich sounds delicious. But then, I liked the pork breakfast panini at SS with the foot cheese, so I guess there’s no accounting for taste. I was near Orlando for a conference a couple of years ago during the Flower and Garden Festival, so I stayed over a day and wandered around Epcot by myself and took about a million pictures. It was so lovely!”
So we have a few different opinions here.
There it is on the menu.
And in front of us.
And a cross section. The Paninis are brought out sort of like a cake cut into pieces. If the Paninis aren’t ready, you’ll need to wait until the chef brings a new one out, as I did. It took a solid eight minutes of standing there with about a dozen other people as we waited our turn. In the earlier post, I had also mentioned that I wouldn’t ordinarily take the time to eat breakfast this early in the Park because wait times are only going to get longer and FASTPASS return times further into the future.
I really liked this. There is a lot going on with the cheese, scrambled eggs, pork, and bacon all piled high. It was quite filling and a nice size portion. I did not taste even a hint of feet, though I have never put my foot in my mouth before either. Do you see how I opened myself up to a really obvious joke there?
Just a mess down here around 10am.
A look from above. Enough diners that Disney had to open an additional seating section.
More construction walls are up at the Seas Pavilion. This is right in front of the Seas with Nemo and Friends entrance.
For a special event of one kind or another.
A queue modification of some variety on the way into Nemo.
Heading into The Seas on our clammobile. I don’t know how the ride was since I’m terrified of underseas creatures. Animated or not. I had my eyes closed.
Some confusion with the various ropes and walls in front of the Pavilion. Things can get jumbled up in a hurry as you can see the difference in crowds over the ten minutes we were riding Nemo and exiting the Pavilion.
The “water feature” out in front of Test Track has reopened.
Waiting a minute for Circle of Life, which is located on the top floor of the Land Pavilion. I think it’s safe to say that this one is entirely skippable unless you’re looking for 20 minutes of air-conditioning or you’re addicted to Timon and Pumba. And I mean really. Who isn’t?
Apparently you can just watch it on YouTube and save the $88 one day admission or whatever the cost is these days.
Plenty of benches in the air-conditioned waiting area. Not so much of a concern in March, but it’ll certainly be nice come July. Not sure if air-conditioning is worth suffering through Captain EO again, but in July I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune.
A supremely comfortable theater as well.
Living here wouldn’t be so bad assuming there is a Starbucks, McDonalds, and Wal-Mart around the corner. Or just a liquor store. With beer.
As before, this sign still sits outside Guest Services inside Epcot. Find it just past Spaceship Earth on the left side. Pop into Guest Services and they’ll be happy to discuss dining availability and make reservations for you.
A monster update of everything Flower and Garden Festival 2012 is on tap.