It’s 8:28am on Saturday December 8th. We’re standing outside Epcot.
Lines out here have been longer because several of the turnstiles down to our right are behind refurbishment walls. Hopefully they’ll be operational by Christmas or Disney is going to have a (bigger) problem on their hands.
The plan was to test out my new ideal morning touring plan at Epcot:
- FASTPASS Test Track
- Ride Test Track
- Ride Sum of All Thrills
- Ride Mission: Space
- Ride Test Track with FASTPASS
- FASTPASS Soarin’
- Ride Living with the Land
- Do something else on this side of the Park (anything in Imagination or Seas Pavilions would be fine along with lunch at Sunshine Seasons or Circle of Life)
- Ride Soarin’ with FASTPASS
- Head to World Showcase
The main purpose here is to get you over to Test Track with the shortest possible standby wait so you have an opportunity to experience the full queue and design process. We then hang around that area hitting Sum of All Thrills next because it has a much lower capacity than Mission: Space. Then it’s over to Mission: Space and Test Track for a second ride with FASTPASS. Because of the lengthy walk from Test Track to Soarin’, I don’t think it’s wise to head to one and then the other to ride in the standby line at both. We’ll see if Test Track pulls far more people than Soarin’, which would potentially make it easier to ride both attractions in the standby lines first thing in the morning. But by the time you get over to Soarin’ after riding Test Track, it’d be around 9:30am. As usual, you can also get in line for any attraction right up until Park close. If you don’t want to deal with Test Track and Soarin’ in the morning or with FASTPASS, you can skip IllumiNations and get in line five or ten minutes in front of the stated close to experience shorter waits.
Unfortunately, we’re not going to get a good idea about timing on this particular morning because Test Track was down from Park open through around 10:30am. As I type this at 4pm on the 9th, Test Track is again down. As I mentioned in the original look at “the newly refurbished” Test Track 2.0, Test Track has historically been an attraction prone to mechanical failures. Add in the new technological layer and you’ve introduced a whole slew of additional things that could cause it to go down. I would expect Test Track to go down at some point virtually every day moving forward. The fact that they can’t even get it online in the morning doesn’t bode well either. This is the line that formed immediately after opening. It winds back toward Innoventions East and then continues down to Mouse Gear. It will be just as long at 10am as hopeful people continue to wait.
I had an unfortunate run-in with the Brickers, whom you may recognize from DisneyTouristBlog.com and Disney’s new The Looking Glass project. They somehow coerced me into joining them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, the Osborne Lights, and whatever else. I think I was drugged as some events are a little hazy.
Of course I’m joking. We love Tom. I just wish I could turn up the colors as much as he can.
Above is the Breakfast Panini, which wasn’t as good as the last time I had it.
They’re baked sort of like a pie and if there isn’t anyone to purchase the slices, they end up sitting out for a while. The one I ate originally was fresh out of the oven. This one had obviously sat for a while. If you’re planning to eat breakfast here, you may want to wait for a fresh batch to come out of the oven. It shouldn’t be long.
I’m sure Tom knows I’ve terrified of everything under the water, so they brought me to The Seas Pavilion next. Actually now that you mention it, they may have been trying to ditch me the whole time.
After making sure Test Track was still down (it was), we then over to Magic Kingdom around 10:30am for lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant.
This is the largest tour group I’ve ever seen – this time from Argentina. Or they really like Argentina as that’s what they were chanting in between clapping and singing down Main Street.
Those standing around basically watched with jaws dropped as the mass moved through The Hub. It’s probably about time Disney addressed the behavior. These kids all have money though. Lots of money. And because they’re all trying to show off to each other and those back home, they purchase a ton of stuff. But Disney needs to figure out some way to control them – even if it’s just telling the guides not to lead chants down Main Street and show up for lunch at the exact same time.
Lunch is at the now-officially-open Be Our Guest Restaurant. Lines have been long just to get inside the building. It was about 30 minutes between the time we got in line (around 11am) and when the food arrived. Be Our Guest has begun lunch service at 10:30am and it continues allowing people to enter until around 2:30pm. To minimize waits, you want to be in line at 10:25am.
I got a kick out of the fact that Disney had been hyping the Grand Opening of New Fantasyland on December 6th for some time. Then December 6th rolls around and Be Our Guest is completely closed to the public so “media” can broadcast inside. The same thing happened with Test Track, where the entirety of Future World East was closed to the public after 3pm on the 6th.
We’ve spent a lot of time over at Be Our Guest in this original dinner review and then again on a return visit, so I won’t bore you with more pictures of the interior or how it’s the Grandest Cafeteria Inside of a Theme Park ever created.
We’ll have to return for a better look at the ordering process. You’ll first be given one of these RFID roses and then you’ll be directed to a kiosk with a touchscreen that display’s the restaurant’s menu.
You tap the rose to that device on the left to start the process. When you’re seated, a cast member will find you and deliver your food and they use the rose as a means to figure out where you’re sitting. They confirm your order with you before leaving, so it would be nice if someone was at the table with the receipts before you go exploring. Otherwise, you’ll come back to a grumpy cast member and cold food.
I’m not sure if the ordering process is any more efficient than simply telling a cast member what you’d like to order. With the small size of the room (you’re looking at several of the kiosks in this picture), it may be the best use of space. But there seemed to be some amount of confusion and it’s crammed with people during the busy lunch service. Also worth noting is that when you scan your credit card, you do so with the strip facing away from you. That didn’t seem to be particularly intuitive.
One nice thing about the kiosks is that they tell you the ingredients and nutritional information in the food. My $11.99 Braised Pork – Slow Cooked Pork with Vegetables and Bacon with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans Jardiniere has 492 calories according to the screen. The Steak Sandwich is just north of 1,000. I enjoyed the Pork quite a bit – it was tender and flavorful. It was easy to cut with a fork. The picture insinuated peppers and onions along with the green beans, but we seem to just have green beans here. They were probably cooked properly – which is less than I normally do myself. Still, very good. Overall, I would recommend this highly, though it isn’t a ton of food for the money. But the fact that Be Our Guest doesn’t serve up gut bombs is probably good. Also note the real bowls and silverware (not pictured). After you finish your meal, a cast member comes and cleans up.
Tom ordered the $10.99 Croque Monsieur – Grilled Sandwich with Carved Ham, Gruyere Cheese, and Bechamel with Pommes Frites. He described it as “Good, not great.” That’s about how it looks.
I was hoping Disney would serve up the delicious fries that accompany the steak at dinner, but that doesn’t look to be the case. These appear to be extra limp.
Sarah opted for the $9.99 Quinoa Salad with Green Beans, Potatoes, Olives, Roasted Red Peppers, Golden Beets, and Tomatoes. A big thanks to Sarah for ordering this so I don’t have to. She said she liked the quinoa more than the salad part.
And the $2.99 Lemon Meringue and Strawberry Cupcakes:
Which they both enjoyed. I think I’m going to have to order the Lemon Meringue iteration one of these days myself. I also recommend the Potato Leek Soup. For whatever it’s worth, the $2.79 fountain beverage cups are sitting right next to the fountain beverage machines and refills are free.
Be Our Guest was very pleasant for lunch. It’s certainly a cheaper way to experience the restaurant if you don’t want to opt for dinner, even if a couple of the dinner entrees are in the $16 range. You can also choose where you sit. The wait times are unfortunate, but at least there weren’t problems with finding a table. Arrive around 10:25am to lessen the wait or be prepared to wait 15 to 45 minutes later in the day.
Journey of the Little Mermaid wait times have been surprisingly long. You can see it sitting at 90 minutes with the line down to Gaston’s Tavern at 12:27pm. The area back here is also cramped with so many people and what now seems like a very narrow corridor outside Mermaid and Ariel’s Grotto.
With two Ariels, wait times have been more reasonable down at the Grotto Meet and Greet.
Enchanted Tales with Belle also continues having longer waits. Lumiere and the gears are now animated so that Lumiere dances a bit.
This is the line for Journey of the Little Mermaid FASTPASSes outside of PhilharMagic. I’m not sure if the line looks as long as it is – I would guess you’d have to wait 20 minutes just to collect them. And they are now connected to the system, meaning you can’t collect FASTPASSes for Peter Pan’s Flight and then Mermaid right after. FASTPASS is also the reason for the long standby waits. The FASTPASS return time is only 40 minutes out to 1:10pm at 12:30pm, which means they’re probably printing at least 1,000 FASTPASSes per hour. And with the absurd posted wait, more people seek out FASTPASSes, which only causes the standby line to move slower.
On the plus side, FASTPASS at Mermaid, Dumbo, and Barnstormer has helped bring down FASTPASS return times at Peter Pan’s Flight. Here at 12:34pm, the posted wait for Pan is 55 minutes with FASTPASS “only” out to 2:20pm. Last year on comparable days, FASTPASS would have been out to around 4:30pm.
The tower continues to mark the location of Disney’s next generation bathroom experience. I wouldn’t want to be the guy behind data mining on that.
Is there a Roger Rabbit reboot I’m unaware of?
And even with the crowds that have already arrived, full ferry boats continue pulling up.
Moving over to Epcot, we see waits that are typically long at Test Track and Soarin’ along with 15 or less minutes at most other attractions.
With the downtime in the morning, Disney was allowing those of us with morning FASTPASSes to use them later in the day. My FASTPASS was pulled at 8:47am with a return time of 10:05am – 11:05am. As it has been, Epcot opens its turnstiles around 8:45am. On this particular morning, it was closer to 8:50am.
FASTPASSes were long gone and the posted standby wait was 60 minutes. The standby line looked to be short, but you’ve got a ton of people returning with FASTPASS, many of them later than their window. I waited just under 20 minutes to ride with my FASTPASS.
The single rider line looked to be moving faster. People that had entered the single rider line after I entered the FASTPASS line boarded before me, so that remains a viable option. The only problem there is that you don’t know how many people are in line ahead of you.
I didn’t notice before, but those standing in the FASTPASS line can creepily look in on those designing automobiles. Remember me talking about the additional layer of technology? I counted 12 design consoles that weren’t operational in this room.
As originally pointed out last week, those using FASTPASSes or the single rider line can design their automobile in the post show area.
I confirmed this fact again. In the Single Rider/FASTPASS lines, you’ll only have an opportunity to choose from pre-made cars that leave a little something to be desired. If you simply don’t care, you don’t even have to pick a pre-designed car and can just continue through, shortening the wait by a minute or two. You may recall that your design has no effect on the ride experience.
Reactions to Test Track 2.0 seem to continue being mostly positive.
This time around, more effects seemed to be working.
But I still like being a test track dummy more.
There’s more to look at during the first half of the ride, but once you arrive at the old hot/cold tests, you’re basically traveling through empty rooms outlined in neon.
This is “literally” just a black wall on our left. Or you could look at your reflection on the right.
More neon Christmas trees. Very festive for the season, anyway.
Test Track is definitely worth experiencing yourself though. If for no other reason than a bumpy ride through Tron.
PhotoPass pictures are on your right as you exit into the post-show. For a more complete look at Test Track, see this post.
Cool Wash was operating for the first time in what seems like forever.
I don’t think I’ve seen the Frozen Raspberry Lemonade flavor before.
The Refreshment Outpost in between China/Germany and Fife & Drum Tavern in front of the United States Pavilion have added “Agent P’s Power Pack” and a “Beaker.” The Power Pack is different than what’s offered over at the Studios and looks to come with a cute pail.
The Beaker looks like Strawberry Frozen Slush underneath Soft Serve Vanilla?
To the left of the Germany Pavilion sits a kiosk similar to the ones found at the Food and Wine Festival. For the holidays, it serves up this delicious sounding menu of treats.
The Tutto Italia gelato cart now serves Montegrande wines, which we sampled at a Regional Lunch a couple of months ago. You’d have difficulty convincing me they’re anything special, but they’re there.
Never fear, the kiosk still sells gelato and other stuff, including the Italian Margarita and “Primavera” from the Food/Wine Festival:
That’s what’s going on at Epcot. Hopefully Disney can get their act together on Test Track, but I only see reliability getting worse. There are so many Chevrolet jokes I could make.
Epcot was recommended and Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios were not. It’s 4:22pm.
With the name recognition, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow continues to be popular.
We took a look at it in this post. This actually looks to be a 45 minute wait. It’s worth waiting 15 minutes for, but I’m not sure I’d stand there bored outside for 45. Try to visit before 11am to find shorter waits.
Across the way, you’ll see that a new kiosk has popped up offering these cupcake “treasure chests” for a pretty penny.
Along with bottled beverages. We’ll sample one a little later.
Dinner this evening is avec AJ from Disney Food Blog. She is as delightful as you might expect.
Seeing Disney added a new Sloppy Joe to the Studio Catering Company menu caused me to groan out loud. They also offer the same Treasure Chest ($9.57 with tax makes it 7 cents more expensive!) and a Gingerbread Cupcake for the holidays.
Bless her heart – AJ took one for the team and ordered the Sloppy Joe. This is the $8.99 Chicken Caesar Wrap – Oven Roasted Breast of Chicken, Romaine, Caesar Dressing, and Wheat Flour Tortilla served with Coleslaw, Apple Slices, or French Fries.
I was surprised this sucker was so large and so packed full of chicken. It’s served cold and would also be portable if you wanted to haul it over to Fantasmic. With its size and heft, it was quite filling. On the downside, there wasn’t a ton of Caesar dressing or lettuce, so it was almost entirely flavorless. I would have preferred to fill it with honey mustard dressing instead. You might want to order the dressing on the side or ask for it dry. But I love honey mustard. I’d definitely order this one again.
An overly edited shot of the Sloppy Joe, which may make it look better than it probably was. It wasn’t “bad” by any means, but AJ described the meat as “mealy” or like elementary school taco meat. I don’t think either of these are positive characteristics.
I ate half myself and the flavor was okay – kind of bland all things considered and the cheese was what I would consider to be a gross slimy texture. In the grand scheme of Disney food, this isn’t a terrible option.
But I’d order the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, Wrap, and Pressed Turkey Club (in that order) first.
When you hang with Disney Food Blog, you know you’re going to be sampling some cupcakes. Here we have the Gingerbread, which I thought was quite good. The texture and icing reminded me a lot of a carrot cake cupcake – not too sweet. I wouldn’t drop five bucks on one, but they would certainly be a more interesting dessert on the Dining Plan.
And the $8.95 Treasure Chest, filled with a cupcake and a couple of cookies. This was a chocolate-on-top-of-chocolate cupcake with rice krispies on top. It was moist and quite chocolate-y. Again, I wouldn’t spend nine bucks on this sucker, but I’m also not on vacation(?).
You can get the same cupcake for $2.50 more along the Streets of America during the Osborne Lights, Only this time it’s topped with a glow cube.
So that’s that.
Speaking of “vacations,” I’m headed back to Seattle from December 18th – January 15th.
During that time, information consolidation will continue.
We’ll also continue our tour of Universal Studios and (hopefully) SeaWorld along with whatever Disney updates are possible.