We’ve been discussing the possibility that Soarin’ would close for an extended period in the forums for a couple of weeks now, but Disney looks to confirm it as they’ve updated the Soarin’ attraction page with the following:
I believe Orlando Park News was the first site to discuss the imminent closure and they have some additional thoughts on what the refurbishment will bring here. Note that the attraction is not expected to reopen with the new film. That will debut later in the year.
I don’t often cover refurbishments in depth, but Soarin’ is a big one. You may remember the clustercuss that was the “Test Track Renewal” when management literally told front line cast members to lie about the Land Pavilion staying open late. I doubt we’ll see Test Track open for an extra hour during the refurbishment, but you never know. Maybe we’ll see the Soarin’ All-Stars.
Soarin’s closure means a few things. First, I wouldn’t expect any day-of FP+ for Test Track to be available on almost any date during the refurbishment and Test Track will likely be out of FP+ inventory several days in advance. You may remember this post from a couple of days ago that briefly discusses the 10+ attractions that already have no day-of FP+ availability. Add Test Track to that list come January 4th.
It obviously puts even more pressure on Test Track, which is one of the least reliable attractions on property. This chart below shows how often Test Track has been down so far in October:
This is actually well above average. Compare that to July:
This isn’t as bad as you might expect either. I guess the good news about Soarin’ closing in the winter/spring is that downtime due to weather will be less of a concern.
So what does it mean for those planning to visit Epcot during the refurbishment, which will likely extend through June?
You want to book Test Track FastPass+ as soon as possible. You’re also looking at less FastPass+ availability overall as this decreases Epcot’s overall FP+ inventory by nearly 10,000 experiences a day. As I’ve discussed time and time again, few people are probably giddy about using FP+ at Living with the Land. But when it’s the only thing available, they still select it. The potential good news with that is that fewer people will likely be headed to the Land Pavilion with Soarin’ offline. So you see fewer people arriving at Soarin’ with a 100-minute wait at 10am who in turn head to Living with the Land and clog up that line for a few hours. Living with the Land wait times in October:
The attraction does see some sizable afternoon waits that may be surprising for those that haven’t visited in a while. 50 minute waits in October is pretty batty. It will be interesting to see what demand looks like with Soarin’ closed and whether or not people purposefully seek out the ride along with Circle of Life and a meal at Sunshine Seasons.
As far as touring, Soarin’s closure means just about everybody at rope drop is going to be headed to Test Track instead, which should push up waits earlier and keep them higher for most of the day. I fear the days Test Track is closed at Park opening. It only happens about 8% of the time, but that number is higher than any other attraction. Hopefully we’ll see better maintenance and fewer closures. There really isn’t an excuse for Test Track not to be operational barring adverse weather.
Otherwise, Soarin’s closure, compounded by the numerous closures at Hollywood Studios, is rough. I think Soarin’ is a big reason why people spend two days at Epcot. Take it out of the lineup and the Park is a lot easier to cover in one day. I’m not sure where people will spend that extra day as the Studios doesn’t exactly beckon more time and Animal Kingdom’s nighttime stuff won’t be online until at least a few months into 2016. So you’ve got Magic Kingdom as the remaining choice, and that Park is already heavily stressed under record attendance and declining FastPass+ availability.
We’ll see what the future holds, but it looks like things are going to get worse before they get better.