We begin our Epcot morning bright and early on November 4th at 8am. Here’s how the pre-opening crowds progressed:
Larger 8:45am crowds: https://i2.wp.com/easywdw.com/reports10/eightfortyfive.jpg.
Many of the turnstiles on the left side of the entrance are still behind walls, causing lines at the open tapstiles to be longer than they would be otherwise. By 8:45am, lines are all the way back past the ticket booths and near security and the monorail ramp. As usual, I headed down to the far right tapstiles that were uncovered, which is a sign they will open when it’s time. There were two sets of tapstiles further down on the right that were covered with cloth, which is an indication they won’t open. Should you arrive by 8:15am, you could just as easily get in line somewhere in the middle. If you arrive later, look to the right where lines are often shorter.
At the moment, tapstiles just right of the center are used for breakfast reservations at Akershus and there will be no line formed until about 8:40am when cast members pull people from other lines. If you’re running late and find long lines, have somebody in the group hold a spot in one of the regular lines and have the rest of the party hang around the tapstiles used for breakfast reservations. When it’s time for the breakfast reservation tapstiles to convert to regular use, you’ll be able to quickly move over to the front of the newly formed line.
As usual, Epcot started admitting guests at 8:45am after a very brief opening show that consisted of two cast members clapping and one spinning a noise maker. Not bad for the largest media conglomerate in the world. It’s possible they won’t open until closer to 9am, but even if that happens, it doesn’t put you behind others as everyone is in the same boat. Guests arriving via the International Gateway in between the United Kingdom and Canada are supposed to be held until the same time the main gates open. Even if they are let in early, you’re only talking about a hundred people at most in line in front of you and even Test Track and Soarin’, with their lousy hourly capacities, can adsorb those limited numbers without much problem.
There are exactly two priorities at Epcot – Test Track and Soarin’. They are on opposite sides of the Park, which has historically made touring Epcot over one day more time consuming. With waits that build very quickly at both attractions, you’d either have to send someone to collect paper FASTPASSes at one attraction and have them meet the rest of the group at the other attraction or have the whole group race to one and then the other. It’s a 12-minute walk in between the two rides and each takes a minimum of 20 to 25 minutes to experience. That takes some time and energy first thing in the morning.
FASTPASS+ potentially helps alleviate this rush:
The circle is explained later.
In the morning, I’m headed to the left side of the Park for Test Track, Sum of All Thrills, and Mission: SPACE. On the evening of November 3rd, I conveniently set up FASTPASS+ for three attractions on the right side of the Park, which I knew I wouldn’t reach until after 10:30am. I’ve scheduled Soarin’ for around lunch time with plans to eat lunch right next door at Sunshine Seasons. Because of that, I don’t have to rush to Soarin’ in the morning to ride or grab legacy FASTPASSes. I can instead enjoy a less stressful walk over to Test Track, knowing I’m not going to be waiting long for Turtle Talk, Seas with Nemo, or Soarin’ later in the morning.
Legacy FASTPASSes are still being distributed for all attractions that have historically offered them. Expired Key to the World cards without tickets attached still work at the machines, as do Annual Passes and Key to the World cards issued at the time of check-in.
Legacy FASTPASS distribution at the headlining attractions remains much faster than before October 2013, when Disney began limiting the number distributed due to increased FastPass+ usage. Note that the first return time here is 9:10am, which is a mere 18 minutes in the future. This is not the norm, but it is possible.
Standby at Test Track first thing in the morning makes a lot of sense if you’re among the first people through the tapstiles. The initial wait is short and you’ll enjoy the full design experience.
I arrived at the entrance at 8:53am and completed my (ABSOLUTELY SICK) design at 9:01am.
Then it’s a short wait to board your vehicle.
Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee. As I mentioned a few days ago, the technology side of Test Track is working a lot better these days, making for a better experience. Mechanically, it’s still garbage, but such is life in a small family owned theme park like Walt Disney World with a limited budget and resources.
I was back out front at 9:16am for a total wait/ride time of 23 minutes. This is the minimum amount of time you can expect standby or FASTPASS to take. Later in the day, your FASTPASS or FastPass+ experience will take 30 to 35 minutes.
FASTPASS was out to 10:30am.
I could have used my FASTPASS at this point, but the plan was to rely on standby and my three FP+ experiences.
I entered the single rider line at 9:18am for a second ride. Remember that you don’t complete the full design experience in this line. You spend about 30 seconds selecting a pre-designed vehicle or you can use your original vehicle from your initial standby ride. Or you can design a vehicle at one of the kiosks in the ride exit area. Not caring a whole lot, I bypassed the area altogether.
There was nobody else in the single rider line and I strolled right into a waiting vehicle.
The design of the automobile does not affect the physical ride in any way. Your designed vehicles simply show up on a screen throughout the attraction (if everything is working right).
I was back out front in ten minutes, which is an astonishing turnaround time.
By 9:28am, standby was already out the door with a posted wait of 30 minutes and FASTPASS out to 11:35am – 12:35pm.
Sum of All Thrills in Innoventions East is the next priority. If you’re looking at the Test Track entrance, simply make a 180 degree turn and you’ll be looking at Innoventions East, which houses the ride.
Thrills is a design-your-own Kuka Arm simulator, not all that different from the ride system at Forbidden Journey over at I****** of A******.
Capacity is extremely low here with just eight to fifteen people or so moving through each stage of the process every five minutes. That’s why we’re here instead of Mission: SPACE.
Your ride does not need to be intense. The options on the left are milder and the options over on the right are wilder. Choose the bobsled and other smooth options for an easier experience or the fighter jet and the corkscrews for a more intense experience.
After the five-minute pre-show and the five-minute design stage, you’ll proceed up to the Kuka. There are lockers for all of your belongings. The ride lasts about 90 seconds. There is sample vehicle seating to the left of the entrance if you’re wary about fitting in the seats or concerned about claustrophobia. It is a small area once the top comes down. In related news, on the ride announces, “Look who’s riding with you!” This is extremely depressing when the seat is empty.
I always make a point of riding Thrills when the line is short in the morning. I arrived at the attraction at 9:31am and was back out front at 9:50am. This is about the minimum amount of time you can expect it to take.
At 9:56am, the posted wait at Test Track is 60 minutes with the standby line stretching out the door.
With the limited number of legacy FASTPASSes distributed, the return time is already 3:05pm. Yes this is a recommended day, no it doesn’t get much better than this, no there was no better day to visit this week, and yes you’re looking at long waits if you don’t arrive first thing in the morning or plan to use FASTPASS of some variety.
Mission: SPACE is the last priority on this side of the Park. After a brief bathroom break, I arrived at 9:59am to a five-minute wait for Green and a 10-minute wait for Orange.
Mission: SPACE is probably the first example of a Disney ride with a neat, expensive next-generation queue leading to a lackluster attraction. In case it’s not obvious, I’m referring to Journey of the Little Mermaid.
The details are pretty stunning.
You even walk by a command center.
SPACE is another lengthy attraction with the pre-show, then an additional wait for your vehicle to be cleaned of the vomit and fear from the previous riders, and then the joyous mission itself.
Amusingly a child asked, “Where are his legs?” when Gary Sinise welcomed us. Lieutenant Dan!!
What a cool cucumber. This is the key piece of advice here. Orange versus Green is a common discussion on the forums.
I recommend starting with Green, which is a little underwhelming. If the tight quarters don’t bother you, Orange later in the day is a good decision. Waits are generally nonexistent after 6pm.
Synergy. I arrived back out front at 10:20am for a total wait/ride time of 21 minutes. That’s the minimum amount of time you can expect the attraction to take with FASTPASS or first thing in the morning.
That concludes our priorities in Future World East. Ellen’s Energy Adventure is an attraction you can walk on at any time and it takes about 45 minutes, so it is detrimental to do it this early in the morning unless you literally have nothing else to do in Future World. Habit Heroes, Stormstruck, and Vision House in Innoventions East near Sum of All Thrills can also be done any time of day before the building closes down at 7pm.
Back at Test Track at 10:23am, the posted wait is 70 minutes with FASTPASS all the way out to 5:45pm.
As currently written, the Epcot Cheat Sheet for one-day at Epcot reads:
Ideal One Day Touring Plan:
1. Ride Test Track: 9am – 9:30am
2. Ride Sum of All Thrills: 9:35am – 9:55am
3. (Send someone to collect Soarin’ FASTPASSes for the group here if possible. They
could go earlier if someone isn’t interested in Test Track or Sum of All Thrills, but you
don’t want to take time waiting for them to return to ride with you or waits will rise too
4. Ride Mission: SPACE: 10am – 10:20am
5. (Collect Soarin FASTPASSes if you haven’t)
6. Ride Living with the Land: 10:35am – 10:55am
7. Have lunch at Sunshine Seasons: 11am – 11:45am
You’ll notice that we’re right on schedule as I disembarked Mission Space exactly at 10:20am. From here, we’re going to make a few modifications with the ability to schedule our FastPass+ priorities.
We now head to Future World West, where we’ll find Innoventions West, Fountain View Starbucks (the horror), Character Spot, The Land Pavilion, The Seas Pavilion, and The Imagination Pavilion.
Passing Character Spot on the left, I noticed the posted wait was 25 minutes. If you’ve been following the website’s updates, you’d know that Character Spot wait times have diminished greatly since the refurbishment, when Disney added a second room, cut the number of characters from five to three, and put up a blank wall shielding the characters so kids can’t peer in at Mickey.
Ordinarily I would not have waited at Character Spot at this point. The website’s recommendation remains visiting after 7pm when the majority of Future World closes (both Innoventions buildings, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, Captain EO, Journey into Imagination, Circle of Life, and Living with the Land). People move in to World Showcase for dinner, shopping, and IllumiNations, freeing the attractions not named Soarin’ or Test Track.
I arrived at Character Spot at 10:29am and was not through the characters and back out front until 10:55am, for a total wait/attraction time of 26 minutes. This wouldn’t be so bad prior to the refurbishment, but it’s far too long to wait these days. I think Disney was only operating one of the two rooms, which doubles wait times. And anyone arriving with FP+ goes straight in to meet the characters.
As mentioned previously, Goofy replaced Pluto not too long ago. I might have gotten that backwards on the previous post. Mickey, Goofy, and Minnie greet here in that order.
The standby line was not very long, but FP+ pushes wait times out due to how ratios work.
It’s 11am, which means it’s time to head over to Turtle Talk with Crush in The Seas. Remember that we also have that precious Soarin’ FP+ for the afternoon, which means we don’t have to wait and don’t have to walk all the way up there and back to grab a 1990s era FASTPASS.
Most people enter The Seas via the Nemo attraction, but you can use the door on the left side of the Pavilion.
Enter through the Gift Shop.
Turtle Talk is just inside on your right. As you exit The Seas with Nemo and Friends, it’ll be on your left.
Turtle Talk did not offer legacy paper FASTPASSes. The following post will highlight how FP+ works at each attraction along with some other information on prioritizing them, how long you can expect FP+ to take at each attraction, etc.
FP+ has variable worthwhileness (not a word) at Turtle Talk. In my case, it was a complete waste as I arrived right as the last people for the previous show were entering the theater.
However, like other shows, FP+ guarantees you’ll be admitted into the theater for the next available show. The people in the standby line in the back have been roped off and won’t be admitted into the next show, while anyone that arrives later with FP+ will be admitted right up until show time. Ideally, shows run every 20 minutes beginning at 9:40am with the last show beginning 20 minutes before Park close. Expect shows to start at 9:40am, 10am, 10:20am, etc.
There are a few aquarium exhibits to look at and other interactive activities for the kids in this extremely noisy waiting area.
With kids, I think Turtle Talk is a must-do. For adults, you can skip it if there are other things you want to do, but it’s a really cute show and I don’t throw around the word “really,” so it really has some meaning here. Shows last about 15 minutes and Crush is voiced and animated in real time, interacting with kids in the front and adults in back. Crush responds to people by name and what they’re wearing. The technology and voice work are pretty neat.
After the show, the standby queue spills out into the Seas Pavilion. With FP+, you could walk right into the next show if you arrived right now, saving you at least 19 minutes of waiting. It’s 11:44am, so Turtle Talk took a whopping 44 minutes, which is longer than both rides on Test Track took. Had I been two minutes earlier, it would have saved me 20 minutes of waiting.
My The Seas with Nemo and Friends FP+ is in the middle of its window here at 11:45am. I have a first generation Android phone so you’ll have to deal with these pictures of it instead of some fancy screenshot. I cannot overemphasize enough how this is not a professional website.
I wasn’t in the mood for Nemo and wanted to push the time back later, so I fired up the My Disney Experience app that’s available for Android, iPhone, and whatever else. My Disney Experience (MDE) was an embarrassing mess of garbled code and error messages for months, but recent updates have improved functionality. The button at the top is the menu.
Clicking “My Plans” brings up your FP+ reservations. Other information is also stored here, like dining reservations, wait times, your social security number, how many Mickey Bars you’ve consumed in the last 12 hours, your favorite color, and whether you’re prone to vote democrat or republican.
Clicking The Seas with…
You don’t have to switch the time for everyone if you don’t want to. You can select individual members or the entire party.
Available times show up on the next screen. It starts at 1:25pm because I have that Soarin’ FP+ that ends at that time and you can’t have two scheduled for the same window.
1:25pm sounds convenient.
Done. Even with fiddling around and taking pictures at each screen, the entire process took less than two minutes. Without a phone, you’ll need to find a kiosk somewhere in the Park. I’ll highlight these in the future, but they’re available at the central wait times board, Soarin’ FASTPASS machines, across from Character Spot, and elsewhere.
Current waits via 11:45am:
Yay for Soarin’ FP+.
Checking in on said attraction, the posted wait is 60 minutes with FASTPASS out to 7:55pm. 60 minutes is about as low as wait times get this time of day. You might see 30 or 40 in September.
Joffrey’s has arrived at Sunshine Seasons.
Seasons’ electronic screens make updates easier. We have a seasonal Pumpkin Squash Soup available.
I was interested in the only entree I hadn’t tried, the Steak and Blue Cheese Sandwich with Potato Salad that was introduced in late August. You can substitute a bag of Disney potato chips if you prefer.
The sandwich is sizable with a layer of thick cut steak, lettuce, tomatoes, and blue cheese on a thick French bread roll.
It’s artsy because it’s tilted.
The steak was on the tough side and the predominant flavor was the blue cheese crumbles and spread, which overwhelmed most other things. Probably due to cost, Disney seems to be serving only diced tomatoes, which are prone to fall off.
The potato salad “felt” lighter than the typical Disney potato chip. The potatoes were perfectly al dente, but there was a bit too much green onion for my tastes. I still ate it all.
I prefer the Turkey Ciabatta, but you may prefer the Steak if you love blue cheese. For the same money, you could opt for the more interesting pork chop, rotisserie chicken, seared tuna salad, or something else. All Epcot quick service menus, including the rest of Sunshine Seasons, are available here.
I spent a total of 20 minutes on lunch, which is probably on the short side. At 12:20pm I moseyed over to Living with Land, also located on the bottom floor of The Land with a 10-minute posted wait.
I boarded the boat five minutes later at 1:25pm.
Hops Mickey is looking better than ever.
Too much “fertilizer” in the tank, apparently.
And back at 12:38pm, for a total wait/ride time of 18 minutes.
Time to use that 12:25pm – 1:25pm Soarin’ FP+ with a posted wait of 90 minutes and FASTPASS out to 8:30pm – 9pm at 12:39pm.
Even with the 90 minute wait, there are not a lot of people in the standby line.
Though they are backed up to the fifth screen.
It’s probably not that obvious, but this is as far back as I’ve ever seen the FASTPASS line.
Continuing on. I think without exception, FP+ works exactly the same as legacy FASTPASS at all attractions that have offered legacy FASTPASS. So we just scan our Bands at the FASTPASS entrance and proceed forward. Then scan them again at the merge point.
Soarin’ has one of the longest waits after the merge point as we wait in this dark, boring hallway.
Then the pre-show. Soarin’ remains in abysmal condition with dirt and grime covering the screen and dirt and artifacts visible throughout the ride. They’re never going to fix it. It’s just a matter of time until it’s upgraded.
I wasn’t back out front until 1:15pm, so the total wait/ride time was 36 minutes. That’s about 10 minutes longer than the minimum amount of time you can expect it to take using FASTPASS or the standby line first thing in the morning.
NextGen apparently includes a half of a single FP+ kiosk attached to a legacy machine. Very magical.
80 minutes and FASTPASS gone.
Just about four people in line at Living with the Land as we exit.
Despite a busy Sunshine Seasons.
I arrived five minutes early for my The Seas with Nemo and Friends FP+. Your Band should work without fail up to five minutes before the FP+ window and up to 15 minutes after. I would not plan to arrive early or late, but the cushion is there if you need it.
The relatively new FP+ line is elevated a bit.
Nemo can actually see decent waits in the 30 to 45 minute range when Epcot is “crowded.” Today, the standby wait would be less than five.
It’s almost impossible to see the FP+ scanners at the front of the queue. It’s important that you touch the Mickey head on your Band to the Mickey head on the scanner. Touch any other part of the Band to the scanner and it most likely won’t read it.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends is the new Splash Mountain as far as non-working effects and maintenance are concerned.
The jellyfish often don’t move.
The shark doesn’t come out of his hole. The scary fish with the lantern doesn’t move at all and sits there in the dark.
The refurb is probably scheduled for fall 2018.
Disney’s dolphins are different than SeaWorld’s because I heard Walt was a nice guy.
That Turtle Talk FP+ is looking a little better with the line still out the door at 1:36pm. If you don’t want to use FP+ at Turtle Talk, a visit after 7pm should result in a wait only as long as it takes for the next show to begin. Which can still be up to 20 minutes. With fewer people around later in the evening, you’ll have a better opportunity to look around The Seas Pavilion without fear that the show will fill while you gaze upon the clown fish and other trapped sea life.
Journey into Imagination and Captain EO are offering FP+ these days. It’s completely and utterly useless at EO, but Imagination can theoretically have waits up to ten or fifteen minutes.
Not so much today with a whopping two people on the train that left as I waltzed up. The cast member mentioned they were on their anniversary and I yelled “THERE ARE CAMERAS ON THE RIDE” as they were leaving but I don’t think anyone understood what I was saying. Probably not the time to use your imagination.
FRONT ROW BABY.
I arrived at the entrance at 1:46pm.
And was off at 2:01pm. That includes a minute or two of taking pictures in the queue and post-show area.
So from 9am – 2pm I did:
- 2x Test Track with the opportunity to use two legacy FP if I wanted
- Sum of All Thrills
- Mission: Space Orange
- Character Spot
- Turtle Talk
- Living with the Land
- Journey into Imagination
Not a bad haul. I waited longer than I would have liked for Character Spot and mistimed Turtle Talk. FP+ was mostly a waste at Turtle Talk and Finding Nemo, but none of the current Tier 2 attractions are particularly attractive.
I headed up to Mexico.
The Three Caballeros are no longer the featured characters at the Mexico Pavilion.
Mexico had not reworked the queue to open up more space, causing the line to filter all the way out to the Arribas Brothers store.
Even so, I arrived at 2:14pm and was on the boat and took this picture at 2:18pm, for a total wait of less than five minutes.
A nice, relaxing, air-conditioned boat ride.
For everyone other than Donald, who is getting whacked with a stick.
I’m sure the DIS would tell you that Epcot was CRAZY CROWDED because the line for the Mexico ride was BACKED UP ALL THE WAY TO THE ENTRANCE, but you’re still waiting less than five minutes.
World Showcase crowds will die down substantially after the Food and Wine Festival concludes on Monday.
Maelstrom is currently a Tier 1 attraction on FP+, meaning it’s lumped in with Soarin’, Test Track, Character Spot, and IllumiNations and you only get to pick one. Legacy FASTPASSes are still widely available and a good decision in the afternoon. This 35-minute wait is why the website recommends heading up to World Showcase by noon beginning with the water rides here and in Norway.
Anna and Elsa from Frozen are meeting here in Norway to decent lines.
Get here by 10:45am to minimize waits.
I spent the next hour or so taking pictures of Christmas and other merchandise. At 3:29pm, wait times were:
The 55-minute wait at SPACE Orange seemed odd so I investigated. The attraction actually had a 10-minute posted wait.
I have not actually seen anyone in line at Habit Heroes in some number of months.
Heading back to the main entrance, Spaceship Earth is basically a walk-on at 3:37pm.
On busier days, actual standby waits can exceed 20 or 30 minutes from 10:30am – 7pm or so. You might want to consider FP+ if you have to visit between 10:30am and 4pm on a non-recommended day or with a crowd level of 8+.
Earth looked to be in pretty good shape.
I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be the black child or Michael Jackson (too soon?). Party time either way.
One last look at wait times at 4pm:
Things went pretty well. If I wanted, I could have done anything I skipped in Future World with mostly nonexistent waits. I might have to wait up to ten minutes for the next Ellen or EO show.I could have used legacy FASTPASS if I wanted to minimize other waits.
FP+ worked exceptionally well. I had no trouble securing Soarin’ FP+ on the day before and had no problem pushing back my Nemo FASTPASS. Scheduling Soarin’ could be more difficult in the future, depending on how many people are wise enough to schedule their FP+ in advance for an attraction that makes sense. But if you made it this far, I seriously doubt you have much to worry about the planning front.
I’ll have some additional thoughts on which Epcot FP+ attractions should be prioritized in the next post (or maybe the one after that) and then we’ll move on to the other Parks.
It’s going to be okay. I promise.