As the website attempts to claw its way back to something resembling relevance, we’ll head out to see what’s going on at Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The answer is not a whole lot, so this update is probably going to be even more boring than usual!!!! But it’s really not my fault. There’s nothing going on outside the Fantasyland Expansion at Magic Kingdom. And even those super exciting updates aren’t much more than the pouring of new concrete. Or GASP!!!! New beams or something.
On the plus side, summer crowds are winding down, which is nice. It’s 4:40pm on a recommended Monday. Rewind a month and this would be a 20 minute wait most days.
Obviously no discussion of photography can start without a camera phone (circa 2003) picture of a bunch of lenses. But I got a new one. It’s the cute little bugger on the far left. Or to be more specific, it’s this 40mm F2.8 lens that runs $199. I normally use the lens on the far right (NOT THE BEER BOTTLE THAT IS ONLY FOR SIZE REFERENCE PURPOSES IT WOULD BE RIDICULOUS TO ATTACH A BEER BOTTLE TO A CAMERA), which is kind of cumbersome as one might imagine. Attaching the 40mm Pancake basically adds zero heft and the weight is the same as the 50mm F1.8 lens that sits to the right of it. It’s extremely sharp and because it focuses faster than the 50mm lens, I think it’s more useful overall, even if it’s a stop slower. I also like that its slightly wider. So all of these pictures are taken with the new lens. Amusingly, I get an occasional “Wow, nice camera!” when I’m carrying it with the bigger lens. What people really mean is, “Wow, you have a lens hood attached, you must know what you’re doing!” Which is false. I carry it so people think I know what I’m doing.
Still pretty dark through here.
But the 50mm lens couldn’t focus fast enough to get much of anything usable here during the beginning of the ride.
A few more:
For $1500 – $2000 each, Canon’s F1.4 L series lenses would perform better. But $200 for this sucker is a steal as many of the reviews indicate.
Not much has changed over at Test Track. Don’t take this to the bank, but I’m hearing that they’re on schedule for a late November reopening. Which means nothing has gone significantly wrong yet.
The entirety of Disney World appears to be sold out of Merida dresses in any size larger than small. They didn’t have any here at Mouse Gear or at Hollywood Studios. They do have more frontier themed bow and arrow sets though.
Not much going on in merchandise land at the moment. This probably isn’t new, but I thought it was cute.
I really can’t wait for the return of the cranberry bog. I have so many bog jokes to tell. I just hope we don’t get bogged down with the Food and Wine Festival in the meantime. The website may or may not sell “Don’t bog on me bro” t-shirts to raise money so that I can go to the Mexico Tequila lunch every day. In other news, it’s insane that Perry from Phineas and Ferb doesn’t meet up in the Italy Pavilion or something.
With it being wet out, the characters have moved inside. There are few worse things in this world than soggy chipmunks. This is Chip and Dale greeting inside near the Character Spot’s exit. Occasionally you’ll find other characters in here as well, so it’s worth checking out if it’s raining and you’re looking for something to do inside. Likewise, it’s the worst time to do Storm Struck and Sum of All Thrills when it’s raining. Sum of All Thrills was looking to be a 60 minute wait.
Donald is supposedly on his way out at Character Spot. Which sounds crazy to me. If they’re going to pull one of the Donalds, you would think it would be Sombrero Donald, who is equal parts unpopular and racist. I “love” how World Showcase plays on so many stereotypes. Of course Mexico Donald dawns a poncho and sombrero. What else would he wear, he’s Mexican! Anyway, pulling Donald in his classic sailor outfit would be something that would make me hold up a sign that says “Save Donald” and start an online petition.
Hard to see wait times at 5:24pm:
It’s a pretty chill day with appreciable waits at only three attractions. Soarin’ at 55 minutes, Character Spot at 30, and Maelstrom (not pictured) at 20 minutes.
If you have the displeasure of frequenting the various Disney blogs, you’d be aware of that new canopy thing on the left that RUINS THE PICTURESQUE SEAS MURAL and MEANS THE SEAS WITH NEMO AND FRIENDS IS GOING TO HAVE FASTPASS SOON AND THAT’S SO STUPID.
These walls have been up for some number of months now. It’s either Nemo FASTPASS, Alternate Entrance to Turtle Talk with Crush (conveniently abbreviated to AEtTTwC), or both.
I have a feeling we’re going to have a lot to talk about once FASTPASS+ comes to fruition. FASTPASS is one of those things that’s awesome when you have one, but totally sucks when you don’t. You can wait 30 minutes at the Princesses with 25 people in front of you thanks to FASTPASS. On the other hand, you can skip that 30 minute wait if you have one!
Obviously Nemo and Friends needs FASTPASS like Disney World needs another Winnie the Pooh Meet and Greet, but more FASTPASS attractions should translate to additional FASTPASS availability for the “good ones.” Over at Peter Pan’s Flight at Magic Kingdom, FASTPASS return times have been sooner now that Dumbo offers it. At Epcot, there’s nothing worth FASTPASSing other than Soarin’. But don’t underestimate how dumb people are. That doesn’t mean they’re not going to start collecting FASTPASSes at Nemo once Disney puts up a 30 minute standby wait all day.
Otherwise, Nemo is a perfectly pleasant omnimover ride into the Seas Pavilion. I recommend riding before you plan to spend more time inside The Seas since it lets you off in the middle of the Pavilion. The jellyfish are probably the coolest element.
Though the upcoming projection of the Nemo characters in the aquarium is neat too.
It’s worth pointing out that Nemo can actually see appreciable waits when Epcot is completely slammed. I’ve seen actual waits in the 30 to 40 minute range.
Which may be more common if Soarin’ starts printing Nemo SURPRISE FASTPASSes.
Continuing up through World Showcase.
It looks like Disney is building a permanent kiosk of some sort here, but it may just be another DVC booth. Food options are somewhat slim up through here. You’ve got nothing much in Canada. Just Fish & Chips in the UK. And then once you cross the bridge into France, there’s the mini-bakery, which we’ll visit shortly. On the plus side, you may remember that those Cheese and Chicken Poppers at the Refreshment Port were very good! As were the Fried Shrimp.
Over at Yorkshire County Fish Shop, the prepackaged shortbread seems to be a thing of the past, as this “English Bay Sugar Cookie” has taken its place. The cookies were displayed at the register. The website will try to try one one of these days. You should also be able to order just a side of Chips for $2.99, despite that option being removed from the menu. We will investigate.
France is one of few places where “change” is occurring, outside of Test Track and to a smaller extent, Mexico. Bistro de Paris is closed for refurbishment. Disney Parks Blog posted this interview last week that explained what’s happening upstairs at Bistro. Bistro was one of the last bastions of “upscaleness” at Walt Disney World. One of few places that didn’t offer a Kids Menu, didn’t cater to the least common denominator, didn’t sell out with Spaghetti Burgers and Chicken Parmesan Nuggets. But that’s changed.
The other major change in France is the expansion of the Boulangerie Patisserie, which is located through that unassuming door on your left.
The good news is the Boulangerie will remain open while construction continues.
The current Boulangerie iteration is going to be a “Glacier ice cream parlor!” The emphasis is theirs. That’s the new building behind the current building that houses Les Chefs and Bistro.
But I have nothing but “hope you can believe in” in the new Patisserie. For the money, it’s hard to do better. And the website should probably spend more time here. I think this is the first time we’ve officially set foot inside.
And unfortunately, it’s going to be a quick visit! It really is cramped in here, which is the reason for the expansion in the first place.
But we’ll make up for lost time and try one of everything once the new Bakery opens in December.
I opted for the most expensive item on the menu, because you know, I’m a baller like that. The $5.95 Cheese Plate.
Which includes the baguette as pictured.
That’s a hunk of three Swiss, Mu(e)nster, and Brie…I think. I’m a cheese connoisseur in the same way I’m a wine connoisseur. Looks like wine. Tastes like cheese. Or something along those lines. Anyway, this may be more food than it looks like for the $5.95 price tag. I was as hungry as any healthy American who had already eaten two meals that day could be and I left more than adequately full. As sacrilegious as this may be, I didn’t care much for the cheese. The brie and mu(e)nster both seemed to have very strong, bitter flavors. But that is probably why people enjoy them. By all means, if you enjoy cheeses, this is a very good value. We’ll see what’s available once the new Boulangerie opens in December.
The are two major problems with the current iteration of the Boulangerie. This is just about the entire seating section, other than a few tables inside the French gift shop ahead. The Boulangerie is also extremely small. The new version will be much larger, seat 90 people, have a bread oven, and offer an expanded menu. It all sounds very nice.
Looks about right.
Moving up through Italy, there isn’t a whole lot going on.
With La Cava’s overwhelming popularity and Tutto Gusto doing well, I’m surprised there isn’t more chatter about additional wine/champagne selections at the expanded Boulangerie. You’d think nice French champagne would sell itself.
You’d also think Radeberger would be interested in opening a permanent boozery in Germany. They probably do well enough with their beer carts.
Preparations for next month’s Food and Wine Festival are underway. To the left of the Germany Pavilion here should be the Germany and Brewer’s Collection booths.
Presented by Chase, Paid for by the Federal Government.
Work continues on Maelstrom’s exterior.
Still running short on water.
Inside the Mexico Pyramid, La Vida Antigua is the new exhibit.
Inside the Pavilion, this space had been sitting empty with the woodwork being moved further inside.
So you can pose with this rock.
We took a look at most of the exhibit last time, but here are a few new elements.
Mexican Hunger Games.
Home is where the hut is.
They would have given me the weaving equipment.
Looking back at World Showcase, expect low crowds most days until the Food and Wine Festival picks up at the end of September.
These plants continue to be all the rage. My guess is they’re cheap and easy to maintain in Florida’s climate.
My condo complex has apparently hired Disney’s gardener. You’ll see this same Christmas-y getup all over property.
At least there’s a bit of color in the flower bed near the main Agent P World Showcase Adventure booth.
Looking at wait times at 6:46pm, we really only have appreciable waits at Character Spot and Soarin’.
The Times Guide now lays out the fact that the Land Pavilion stays open through 10pm. Character Spot does as well. With a lot of people returning after IllumiNations around 9:15pm with FASTPASSes in hand, wait times have been longer at Soarin’ from 9:15pm – 10pm. For shorter waits, get in line between 8:15pm and 8:45pm or after 9:50pm. Even with the longer waits, it still isn’t necessarily a bad time to be waiting because so few other things are open. Just a reminder that you’d be better off riding Living with the Land at 9:15pm where there’s no wait. Otherwise, you’re just spending that time in a longer Soarin’ line.
Really nice to see this after such long waits over the summer.
Next, we’ll head to Hollywood Studios, where even less is going on. And also check out a few new Halloween 2012 items.