We’ll head over to Epcot on what turned out to be a pretty evening.
I ordinarily have an excuse for visiting the theme parks. That excuse is usually pretty thin – Pocahontas relocating to Bradley Falls or a new drink appearing at the Joy of Tea Stand are two examples.
But there’s really no use for this post. Lotus Blossom Cafe, the quick service arm of the China Pavilion, has a couple new menu items. If you have something else to do today, the following is completely skippable.
I was trying out my new Sigma F1.4 35mm lens.
The auto-focus on the lens in the dark seemed to be slower than I was hoping.
More and more turnstiles are being converted into RFID. I still have not seen a date on when Annual Passholders will be able to exchange their passes for an RFID ticket. Lines at the regular turnstiles seem to be shorter these days as all newly purchased Magic Your Way tickets are RFID-enabled.
This area will transform on the evening of March 5th as Disney sets up for the Food and Wine and Beer and Mixed Drinks and Flower and Garden Festival.
Crowds otherwise were light, though I’m sure we’ll hear some dire stories on the DIS about wall to wall crowds.
We’ll just about walk on Spaceship Earth at the best time to ride it – around 7pm.
Spaceship Earth is one of the more difficult rides to photograph because it’s dark and (hopefully) constantly moving.
Longer waits than we might like at Test Track and Soarin’, but that’s the reality of two attractions that are incredibly popular in a theme park short of “rides.” Waits next week at this time would be in the 40 to 50 minute range. Come September, we might see waits that drop down to 20 minutes at Soarin’ and 30 at Test Track.
When I walked up, the posted wait for single rider was 110 minutes, which seemed a little on the long side. I asked the cast member about it. She started laughing and changed it to 10. Single Rider is the easiest way to experience Test Track, with waits that are ordinarily shorter than FASTPASS. That’s due to the six-person cars. On Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Expedition Everest, the other two attractions that have single rider lines, you’ve got two people across and a lot of groups come in twos and fours. If you have four here, they usually put two in front, two in back, and take two single riders. At Everest, no single riders would board with a group of two, four, six etc.
It’s probably a little dramatic to characterize the Test Track refurbishment as a disaster. But the attraction has been down at Park open three days in the last week. Test Track was originally a ride with terrible reliability. And now that they’ve added another layer of technology that often doesn’t work, you’ve got much bigger problems. The good news(?) is that because it’s so popular and there really isn’t anywhere else to send people, they often operate the ride without the RFID technology working. The entire design process could be down and they’ll just funnel people through to ride.
Mission: SPACE’s refurbishment continues.
The longpants aren’t getting any shorter. Or on the flip side, they aren’t getting any longer!
A longshirt to go with it.
I want one.
Vinylmation y u do dis? Actually, Disney is almost completely doing away with the trading boxes at the Parks and resorts.
With Doc McStuffins’ arrival at Disney. Jr. at Hollywood Studios, her merchandise has arrived in stores:
I’m pretty sure this is the same stuff you can find at the Disney Store, where prices would probably be lower. A lot of the theme park merchandise can be found at the Disney Store – theme park exclusives have a separate tag stating so.
As you’ve probably heard, the Food and Wine Festival is coming to the Flower and Garden Festival. Food and Wine brings huge crowds to Epcot, particularly on the weekend and it seems inevitable that the Flower and Garden Festival will look more and more like Food and Wine in the coming years.
Disney’s expectations for crowds at this year’s Festival are slightly higher than last year’s, but it’s not a substantial bump. Once word spreads, my guess is we’ll see a bigger bump in attendance each year moving forward.
Food and Wine brings a more ruckus atmosphere to Epcot. You’re going to hear a lot more swearing. I’ve spent a lot of time at Epcot during the Festival over the last two years and I wouldn’t characterize anything I’ve seen as being particularly offensive. But with young kids, you may want to plan to be somewhere else after 5pm, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays.
My original plan was to grab a quick bite to eat at La Cantina de San Angel at the Mexico Pavilion, but you’re never going to find a table this late. It’s a small area and people squat at tables ahead of IllumiNations. I would have rocked my usual garbage can as a place setting, but we’ll be seeing a lot more of that come March 6th and I don’t want to wear you out before the Festival even starts.
Required Pyramid pic.
I had gotten a kick out of this MiceChat post, “A Great, Big Broken Down Tomorrow” that catalogs several problems with Disney World. While Disney certainly has some problems with hacked maintenance budgets and broken effects, I wasn’t sure using flash pictures on a dark ride and an obscure candy container hanging down from the ceiling at the Confectionery were the best examples.
But we’ll come back as FASTPASSes were still available at 7:45pm. We’re not going to need them, but why not, right?
Lotus Blossom Cafe has changed up its menu:
It used to look like this:
A Curry replaces the Vegetable Stir Fry and a “Chicken With Hong Kong Style Vegetable Curry over Rice” was added.
Does anybody love Lotus Blossom? I would consider it to be in the bottom five quick services on property in terms of quality, which is kind of sad since I consider mall Chinese to be serviceable.
With plenty of tables and a relaxed atmosphere, I took one for the team and ordered the Hong Kong Chicken.
I’m not sure if it looks like it, but it was a lot of food. I thought the curry was actually pretty good – served piping hot with a little bit of spice. It was hearty with large chunks of potatoes and carrots in a yellow curry sauce. I think the vegetarian version would be a good choice for vegetarians, though I didn’t come away with any impression of what “Hong Kong Style” meant. It tasted like a basic yellow curry and very similar to the one over at Boma.
The chicken, on the other hand, was greasy, fatty and didn’t have a lot of flavor. I took a disgusting half-eaten picture of it to demonstrate. The chicken was also difficult to cut with plastic flatware on a slippery plate. I don’t know if anyone else in the world has consumed the Hong Kong Chicken, but feel free to interject with your opinion. Lotus Blossom would be pretty far down my list of eatery choices at Epcot.
I have no idea why, but this is (I think) the only quick service on property that doesn’t raise its beverage prices in line with the rest of Disney. So if you’re looking for a fountain beverage, this is your best choice.
On the plus side, China is beautiful at night. I’d love to visit “the real thing.”
But only if it’s like this version.
There are some people back here.
But far from busy.
I felt kind of silly using FASTPASS since there’s maybe 25 people in line. You generally want to avoid Maelstrom from 2pm – 7pm when waits are longer. It usually peaks at 20 to 30 minutes around 4pm when the most people are in this area.
People hate on Maelstrom, but I’d ride it before Soarin’.
Unfortunately, I had switched lenses and this one was in “manual focus” mode without me realizing it. I thought it was kind of funny that it didn’t seem to be focusing, but because I’m stupid I didn’t put two and two together until after disembarking. But there was no visible damage on Maelstrom. Stuff goes wrong on the rides from time to time. This particular scene happens while you’re traveling backwards at a faster speed and I’m not sure you’d notice the damage in the dark even if it was still there. On one hand, I can understand the “SHUT IT DOWN” sentiment – when something that affects show quality negatively occurs, the ride would ideally be shut down for a short time while it’s fixed. But on the other hand, it would be a choice of being able to ride with damage that nobody notices versus shutting it down completely for the day.
The reality is that a lot of Disney attractions are old, break, and should probably be replaced altogether. I’m not sure what Disney’s show quality staff looks like. Ideally, you’d have a handful of experts that are constantly visiting the attractions in an effort to keep them working well. But as far I know, that position doesn’t really exist.
Is there a theme park in Norway I can cover?
As a reminder, Epcot does sell bottles of alcohol.
That’s about what two Disney drinks cost. You may want to pick up a bottle and make a few cocktails in the room before heading out for a $12 Long Island Iced Tea. 2-liter bottles of Coca Cola, Diet Coke, or Sprite run $3.50. A decent price for a bottle of Vikingfjord (my preferred brand of vodka!) would run you $13-$14, so the markup isn’t that crazy.
As always, you can get in line for an attraction right up until close. It’s 8:54pm here if memory serves and a few people are getting in line. If you want to do standby and can’t visit first thing, the end of the day is the second best option. If you’re skipping IllumiNations and don’t want to crisscross the Park in the morning, you could plan to start with Test Track and end with Soarin’.
To dissuade guests from visiting attractions at the very end of the night, wait times are often exaggerated. Soarin’ was still posted at 55 minutes.
Not a whole lot going on these days. Things at Epcot will be a lot more interesting come March 6th. Mickey and Minnie are moving from Camp Minnie-Mickey to what used to be Beastly Bazaar in “Spring.” Daisy and Donald will move to Winnie the Pooh’s current spot and the Pooh characters will move to Camp Minnie-Mickey. With an Annual Pass, you can now get 10% off at Jiko, Hollywood Brown Derby, Shutters, Biergarten, and Boatwright’s. The Segway tours at Epcot have been discontinued. But I think that’s it.