When I started this website some number of years ago now, I never thought I would live long enough to see Spaceship Earth top a FastPass priority list.
But that’s exactly where we’re at here in late 2k14. Here at 12:40pm on one of the least busy days of the entire year – at a time when “literally” nobody is in the single rider line for Test Track and less than 100 people in standby – we have a 20 minute wait for Spaceship Earth with hundreds of people in line.
Looking over wait times in August:
At 10:30am, the average posted wait was 25 minutes in August, which is over three times longer than the same period last year. That makes the ride difficult to experience without FastPass+ between 10:15am and 6pm when crowds are heavier, like they are all summer.
Late August into September:
Spaceship Earth also helps show just how much waits drop from the last week in August to the first week in September. On Thursday September 4th, the wait is never longer than 10 minutes, compared to Thursday August 21st, when peak waits of 30 minutes continue for over an hour.
The main tip board is still listed as a FastPass+ kiosk location, but it hasn’t been operating on my last half dozen visits.
Fortunately, there are locations in both Innoventions’ breezeways. Here across from Electric Umbrella and on the other side across from the entrance to Character Spot, in addition to the kiosk inside Innoventions West and the Service Center in Innoventions East.
While Labor Day Weekend makes up the busiest few days in September, it’s still a far cry from August.
A 40 minute posted wait for Test Track at 12:45pm.
Looking over Test Track posted waits on Mondays in August compared to the holiday Monday in September and the following Thursday, you can get a better idea about how much crowds reliably fall off throughout the end of summer. The average wait time falls every week.
There was otherwise nobody waiting in single rider and less than 100 people waiting in standby on a ride that has been much more reliable, at least technologically, in recent memory.
Where’s the Fire? is a diversion in Innoventions West, in addition to THINK – Presented by IBM, the Great Piggy Bank Adventure, and the bank of PS3 consoles that still run last year’s Madden Football.
It’s presented by Liberty Mutual insurance, ostensibly to teach people how to pay for Liberty Mutual insurance and then not set their house on fire.
Open the door and stick your head in to see if it’s hot.
Players are first broken up into small teams of one, two, or three (or four?) people based on their party size and then into two larger teams that ultimately compete against each other on separate sides of the “house.”
The presenter is demonstrating what players then do inside each room – shine these flashlight-like devices around to uncover and identify potential fire hazards. For example, you might shine your light at the ceiling to find a fire alarm with old batteries or a propane tank next to a shotgun. There is a video game aspect as each room is timed and points are awarded based on how many hazards you identify.
It may or may not be more fun than that sounds. The attraction takes about 15 minutes from start to finish and your wait will be somewhere between a few seconds and 15 minutes depending on how you time it. We enjoyed The Great Piggy Bank Adventure much more, but Where’s the Fire would be a lot of fun for kids from around five to around ten probably.
With or without experiencing the attraction itself, you can enjoy several interactive activities right outside. Fire fighters occasionally meet and greet in the same area. Their next appearance is September 9th and 10th at 10am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, and 4pm.
Badges of honor.
Coral Reef is one of Future World’s two sit-down restaurants.
The lunch and dinner menus are virtually identical:
At dinner, the Caesar Salad moves to the appetizer section and a fish dish is added.
Like many Disney restaurants, the main pull is the setting, here with a view of the massive Seas’ aquarium.
Drinks and creatures:
If you like Safari Amber, you’ll really like Reef Amber…
We were seated at an awkward table on the lowest level in between the tables lining the glass and the booths staring at it,. Someone must have taken some measurements and calculated that the people seated would only be elbowed in the head by every fourth person that tried to inch by. They weren’t wrong.
I started with what sounded like a signature dish of the restaurant, the $12.99 Coral Reef Sriracha Shrimp. They came out less than five minutes after they were ordered and were on the sad side of things – basically six small, previously frozen shrimp covered in a bland sauce that might at one time have been in the vicinity of a bottle of Sriracha.
Lisa ordered the Creamy Lobster Soup made with Tarragon and Brandy – $8.49, a murky blend of cream, lobster meat, and other spices. It was a serviceable cup with a few odd strands of lobster clinging to the bottom of the bowl, but it did not enjoy the depths of flavor you might find at a seafood restaurant that actually has seafood on the menu.
Our appetizers arrived out of the kitchen so quickly that they beat the bread, which is among the blandest of any Disney restaurant. The “Hawaiian black sea salt” didn’t do much to liven things up, but it at least did not arrive alongside a seven minute lecture a la Victora & Albert’s.
While the starters disappointed, my Roasted Pork Belly with Barbeque Baked Beans, Jícama Slaw,and Jalapeño Cream – $26.99 was on point. This had a terrific meat-to-fat ratio, unlike what I was served at Artist Point, which was primarily fat. The flavorful pork was fork tender on top of the al dente bbq beans. The jalapeno cream added a bit of spiciness that was missing from the shrimp and the slaw on top added a crunchy fourth dimension to what is otherwise an impressive dish.
Lisa continued with a second appetizer, the Tuna Tataki – Pickled Seaweed Salad, Yuzu Soy Syrup, Wasabi Cream, and Tobiko Caviar – $12.99. This lightly seared tuna has a simpler flavor profile than the description probably insinuates. It’s similar to what you’d receive alongside a salad at Sunshine Seasons or Be Our Guest Restaurant.
Our favorite dish remains the trout.
On the Coral Reef front, my usual advice is to take your time enjoying the aquarium “for free” in the Seas Pavilion and then head elsewhere for a meal, but it’s unlikely that the restaurant will be the disaster it was for many years. I think Disney has done a good job of making the traditionally lousy restaurants better, while at the same time making some unfortunate cuts at the restaurants that traditionally exceeded expectations. For example, you’d have a hard time convincing me Yachtsman Steakhouse or Le Cellier are anything special, unlike 10+ years ago when they were doing some impressive things.
Otherwise, there isn’t a ton going on at Epcot.
The area outside Innoventions West remains walled off for pipe work and landscaping.
Fortunately the waterways are pretty again.
Food and Wine booths are up in front of the first day of the Festival on the 19th.
That’s about it.