Whoever is calling the shots at Epcot needs to be punished.
Your intrepid investigator ventured out to Epcot this evening (the 16th) to see how Disney was going to handle the Land Pavilion staying open through 10pm. The answer is not well. As we learned four days ago, the Land Pavilion and Character Spot are going to be open until 10pm during Test Track’s refurbishment. This seemed like a good idea. You could put off Circle of Life or Living with the Land along with Soarin’ until after IllumiNations. Skip IllumiNations and you would have no problem experiencing all three after 9pm and you might be able to add in the Character Spot as well.
I expected this to be noted on this week’s Times Guide and advertised around the theme park. The 10pm closures are not listed on the Times Guide. In fact, Living with the Land and Circle of Life are expressly listed as closing at 9pm. Cast members are instructed to tell guests, only if they ask, that they “may be able to get on the rides after 9pm.” That’s actually what they’re supposed to say. So Disney is leaving the Land Pavilion open until 10pm due to the inconvenience of Test Track’s closure, but they will not tell you. Which makes sense, how? Walt Disney Company is legitimately one of the cheapest companies in the world. This is a company that will not hire Flynn Rider to greet guests because he costs $8.65/hour. But they have no problem running an entire Pavilion full of cast members for an extra hour? And they won’t tell anyone they’re doing this?
In two weeks, Disney will reassess the situation and decide if they are going to tell guests that the Land Pavilion will remain open. Apparently management was expecting the Land Pavilion to somehow be mobbed with people. As if those exiting from IllumiNations in the World Showcase would trek up the hill to the Land Pavilion to stare through sliding doors they expected to be locked. Why would anyone go to the Land Pavilion if they thought it was closed? Especially if cast members are specifically told to tell guests that Epcot closes at 9pm. Here are a few reenactments of conversations I had with cast members this evening:
At Circle of Life:
Josh: Is the Land Pavilion really going to be open until 10pm tonight?
Cast: How do you know that?
Josh: The Internet.
Cast: Yes, but we’re not supposed to tell anyone that.
We continued discussing the situation for a solid ten minutes and then I returned to chat for another 30.
Outside the Land Pavilion:
Josh: So the Land Pavilion is going to be open until 10pm tonight?
Cast: Epcot closes at 9pm tonight.
Josh: But the Land Pavilion will still be open until 10pm?
Cast: If you return after 9pm, you may be able to get on the rides.”
Josh: Until 10pm?
Cast: We’re not supposed to tell you, but yes, it’s 10pm.
At Living with the Land:
Josh: Is Living with the Land really going to be running until 10pm?
Cast: *Not sure what to say look* Epcot closes at 9pm, but you may be able to get on the rides after that.
Josh: So it’s safe to come back in 20 minutes and you’ll still be here (it’s 8:50pm)?
Cast: We’re not supposed to say.
Josh: But yes?
I’m not making any of this up. It’s completely bizarre. Add the incomprehensible handling of the Test Track refurbishment and the a cappella group in front of it during the refurbishment and you really have to wonder what’s going on at the top. I know first graders that make better decisions.
It’s moving day at Test Track. It will be interesting to see the construction as it progresses from the Epcot monorail.
The entire Pavilion is behind walls.
Spaceship Earth has regained its walk-on status after seeing bananas lines over the last two weeks. It’s 7:39:26pm. Yes, I’m that accurate.
This is the a cappella group’s sign outside Test Track with their performance times. Or “break times” as they call them. If you haven’t seen the video of them performing, you must. Can’t you just imagine someone being so enraged that Test Track was closed that they ripped the sign in half? I wonder if Disney will print another or try to save money and tape it.
I stood there for about a minute and saw no less than 17 people arrive who had no idea Test Track was closed. And Epcot really wasn’t busy at all. Mission: Space Orange had a 10 minute posted wait.
So the posted wait time for Test Track is “RENEWAL.” About how long is that? And Maelstrom is down again.
What the heck does “Renewal” mean? You can’t even make this stuff up.
The big wall and ropes are gone at The Seas with Nemo and Friends.
But these walls around the entrance are still up.
Sorry, none of these images are edited. It’s late and I wouldn’t be able to get this up if I spent an hour adjusting things. I checked into Guest Relations to see if they had printed new Times Guides with the “Test Track All Stars” listed. They weren’t on the Times Guide I picked up on Sunday and they still aren’t. I asked about it and the cast member said they weren’t printed because they are “kind of a temporary thing.” I told her I was surprised they lasted the day and asked what people’s reactions had been. She said that she hadn’t heard anything about it yet. She may have just arrived on this planet. She asked what I thought. I told her I thought the handling of the Test Track refurbishment was ridiculous and the fact that people were going to be expecting to ride Test Track only to find an instrumentless band was even more ridiculous. She smiled and agreed. But you could tell them Mars Needs Moms should be represented more in the Parks with a feature attraction and a multi-character meet and greet and they would do the same thing.
Maelstrom is finally online with a 5 minute posted wait.
One of the prettiest sights at night.
It’s about 8:50pm at Circle of Life and there’s about three minutes to showtime. No one is waiting. We took a look at Circle of Life last month if you’re unfamiliar.
Living with the Land at 8:50pm as well. No one waiting or boarding. At least six cast members working it. With IllumiNations beginning at 9pm, few people are interested in anything Future World, particularly these two “anytime” attractions.
Sunshine Seasons at 8:52pm. During the Test Track refurbishment, the bakery and grab and go items will be available through 11pm. Yes, 11pm.
The Sustainable Fish (Grilled Salmon in this case) from Sunshine Seasons ($10.69 as I recall). This was really good other than the fact that the potatoes weren’t seasoned or cooked well. Considering few people are eating at this hour, they’re probably a bit on the old side. The salmon was great. This is another recommended dish from Sunshine Seasons to go along with the Caesar Salad, Sandwiches, Pork Chop, and Rotisserie Chicken. Basically everything is good here other than the Asian food.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen Soarin’ this “dead.” There is virtually no one in the Land Pavilion. Everyone either thinks it’s closed or is watching IllumiNations.
No one in line. People were “literally” sprinting through.
Even up here, two people. You’re basically walking into the preshow.
Back in the other direction.
A 10 minute posted wait. It’ll be 5 when we swing back around.
I hopped on Living with the Land. It’s a completely different experience in the dark (once you get out to the greenhouses). The lighting (or lack there of) is really neat. When Living with the Land closes at 7pm, you ordinarily wouldn’t have an opportunity to ride in the dark. It’s something you may want to take advantage of if you’ll be visiting Epcot during the refurbishment.
No natural light seeping in.
We’ll revisit later.
As you may be aware, fish freak me out. I almost had a panic attack in here all by myself surrounded by the lil fishies.
There’s no one in my boat, the boat behind me, or the four in front of that.
A 5 minute posted wait. There were empty seats.
A basically empty Pavilion. Remember, Disney is telling people that it’s closed! Why would you even come over here?
It’s almost impossible to find it this empty while attractions are operating. The cast member to guests ratio here is 3 to 1.
Character Spot is the other attraction operating from 9pm to 10pm.
There’s no one in line. It’s about 9:40pm.
To the point where Mickey actually left his meet and greet inside to corral guests.
Mickey marching in with a haul of two people.
Even though The Land remains open until 10pm, you couldn’t enter Epcot after 9pm. So get here before then if you’re planning to head over.
If you’ll be visiting over the next few weeks, you definitely want to stay through 10pm if you’re able and visiting Epcot. The Land Pavilion will see much lower crowds after 7pm and they’ll only get smaller. I would guess you could have ridden Soarin’ four or five times from 9pm to 10pm, which is unheard of. If you’re doing IllumiNations, you’ll probably only have time for Living with the Land or Circle of Life and then Soarin’ or Character Spot. Living with the Land or Circle of Life would set you back about 20 minutes. It would probably take you 15 minutes to get to the Land Pavilion from Norway after IllumiNations and much longer if you’re coming from further back. You can get in line for any of the four attractions right up until 10pm.
Extending the operating hours at the Land Pavilion and Character Spot is a welcome idea. You could put off the entire Land Pavilion and Character Spot until after 8:30pm. But why on earth isn’t Disney advertising it? Are they really going to go two weeks of this before even reexamining the issue? And why instruct your staff to lie about it? If I ask a cast member if Living with the Land is operating until 10pm, why am I getting the run around? Yes, Living with the Land will be operating through 10pm along with Circle of Life, Soarin’, and Character Spot. It’s not a difficult answer.
I’m expecting Disney to list the 10pm closures to the Times Guides in two weeks, if they don’t fast track it for next Sunday. There’s no reason an entire Pavilion should be operating for just me. It was nice. But add Flynn instead. I’ll try to revisit another night to see how things are going and then again if Disney begins advertising the extended hours.
Sorry if this was overly dramatic.