I had no alarm set for the day but was still up around 6am. The rest of the group was not nearly as motivated and we did not leave for the parks until 9ish. We walked over to EPCOT to begin our day. Decided to visit Test Track first. It was posted at 25 minutes. Took us 27 minutes from entering the queue until boarding a car. The nephews spent some time in the play area and the moms shopped. Next up Spaceship Earth. The wait time was posted at 20 min and it took us just under that. The plan was to then visit Journey Into Imagination but it was unfortunately down. So instead walked back to Connections and then over to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind for the Annual Passholder preview I was lucky enough to get a slot in. Went through the queue (the rest rode) then took a look around the area before heading out. Walked around World Showcase lagoon and some grabbed lunch. I hiked over to the Beach Club Marketplace and grabbed lunch for others then we met up back at the Boardwalk. Some went swimming the rest of us rested a bit and cleared some items off the to do list. Then we set out for EPCOT again. Grabbed some food in France then made our way around to the American Gardens Stage for the Commodores. After their set continued on around World Showcase walking through some shops along the way and snacking a bit. Some of the group headed back to the room at this point, I met up with others that were just finishing up dinner at the Space Restaurant. We then visited Figment before they returned to the room. I met another friend and we watched the Beacon of Magic then hiked out to Japan to watch Harmonious (it was their first viewing). After the show I strolled through the crowd to the International Gateway and returned to the Boardwalk to call it a night.
Thoughts & Observations:
My closing thoughts on EPCOT. I am not a huge fan of the direction EPCOT is heading in. I grew up in the 80s with the original park and it was my favorite Disney park for years. I agree the park that has existed the last decade or so was a shell of its former self and the original EPCOT Center is long gone. My core issue is EPCOT is becoming a random set of attractions that could be in any park for any reason and not organized around central themes. I would have liked EPCOT to take on a new and distinct theme/personality. For a park I prefer each to have its own unique set of attractions and concepts that reinforce the theme of that park. The ongoing transformation of EPCOT really brings it closer to the Magic Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios. An attractions or land could almost go into any of those three parks with the loose theme/concept for each. I think the neighborhood concept is too complex/thin and does not work. The simple Future World and World Showcase worked.
- We had a later start this morning and did not arrive at EPCOT until after 9:00am. We had nothing on our agenda until noon so as we walked through the International Gateway we took a look at the app to see the wait times. Overall they were moderate with only Ratatouille and Frozen being long.
- I cannot remember the last time I did the full stand by queue for Test Track. With single rider and FastPass it has been quite a number of years. The line moved at a good pace up until the room where you go in to build your car. It seemed like we had to wait a long time to enter then that process to build your car is relatively slow. My nephew had never done it and he really enjoyed customizing the car.
- I was lucky/quick enough to secure a time slot for the Annual Passholder Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind preview today. I had a return time of 12:00 – 12:30 which was one of the first slots.
- The AP Preview Experience was ok. I was notified of the reservation website quickly after it launched and was able to get a slot with only a couple minute wait. The email notifying me that the reservation system was available came over 30 minutes after I made mine and by that time the queue was full and most days unavailable. So I lucked out it seemed. As part of the preview you did not have to worry about a park reservation, Disney loaded that automatically for you. The confirmation said to bring a print out of the reservation, a photo ID and your annual pass. The checkin process was very efficient. They were just scanning passes/MagicBands so the line moved quickly. Once past the scan point you could walk around the courtyard or join the attraction queue. Once in the area it appeared you could stay as long as you wanted. They were letting guests rejoin the queue while I was there.
- I found it odd the gift shop was not open for the event and no merchandise was available. It seemed Disney left a lot of money on the table by not having AP Preview items or even regular merch items available. Also the on ride photo system was not available.
- My spoiler free first impressions:
- The queue – I found the queue pacing to be off. What I mean by this is the first room you circle through there is a large overhead screen and you had plenty of time to view this and look around but not a lot to see and you spend a good portion of time there. Then you move up a ramp into a second portion that has exhibits and videos but at this point cast members were urging us to move quickly and keep up so you did not have time to look at area. They were asking you to move quickly because the preshow room is large and needs to fill quickly with a large number of guests. With only standby that meant all from one queue.
- The queue seemed too small. It appeared to be about 30 minutes worth of guests only (with no Lightning Lane). As soon as it stretched beyond that guests were forced to wait outside along the attraction in a taped off queue with no shade. I saw several days after our preview umbrellas were added. But why does Disney seem to cut queues and weather protected queues? I am sure one issue is budget. The Imagineers want to use the budget for the Main Show or to plus portions of the queue vs going for scale. But why would anyone think having only 30 minutes of indoor space for a coaster is a good idea? I guess when you add in Lightning Lane that is probably going to be an hours worth of queue space at least since it will move twice as slow.
- The preshow does a solid job of describing the mission of the attraction and setting the stage. I thought it was enjoyable and more interesting than say Flight of Passage’s preshow. The first preshow room I thought the line where you stop is too close to the door and you really cannot see the screen well. Learned this the hard way as we were directed up to the line. It was nice to have the space and not be crowded in the middle of the room but the view was less than ideal (as you will see in my not so great pictures).
- The last preshow room features a couple of great effects and is well done.
- The load area seemed fairly standard and moved quickly with two load stations.
- As any long time follow of the site knows I do not do coasters… so at this point I left my group. They rode and I walked through a door and then to the exit.
- The exit area seemed extremely plain and almost like a utility corridor. You exit outside and walk by the gift shop entrance, but you are not forced to walk through the gift shop.
- I spoke to those that experienced the ride and the word they used was “fun”. They said the motion was a bit more intense than they had thought and were happy the plan was for lunch after vs before. Neither of them wanted to go a second time. They were satisfied with a single ride.
- We waited about 25 minutes from entering the queue until they boarded. By the time we finished the queue was at least double that we guessed.
- There was a single PhotoPass photographer taking pictures in front of the attraction and that had a couple dozen people in line the entire time we were there.
- When it came time for lunch we scattered and some wanted a hot dog, others BBQ and others something from the German Marketplace. I had never thought about it but there is only one place to get a regular hot dog at EPCOT, the Outpost. Of course they wanted a foot long one so we ended up at the Beach Club Marketplace.
- The Garden Rocks group was the Commodores. They put on an entertaining show that we enjoyed from the back of the theater.
- For dinner some of the group grabbed snacks from France and the others went to Space 220. France was slow moving at the bakery but tables were available due to this. The group that went to Space 220 ended up with a table by a window and the kids really enjoyed it. The food they said was better than they had expected but the fixed menu was not ideal for them.
- Spend some time with a friend who had not seen the Beacon of Magic or Harmonious so it was interesting hearing their initial thoughts. They seemed to line up with mine.. the Beacon of Magic exceeded expectations but Harmonious fell short of even low expectations.
My second issue with the choice of attraction is it is limiting. A coaster with a height and health restriction is not that inclusive. There is no alternative experience presented for those who cannot or will not ride. The coaster is not part of a set of attractions to the area to offset this. For example look at the original Wonders of Life. You had a mix of attractions spanning multiple audiences and tolerances to choose from.
Guardians of the Galaxy taken in isolation appears to be a crowd-pleasing Disney coaster, which is great. It will bring crowds and most guests who are able/willing to experience it most likely will enjoy it. But I would have really liked to have seen something else built there that a wider subset of the park’s audience can experience. As a side note/question is it ideal to keep adding thrill attractions to a park that has become a set of festivals that heavily rely on food and drinking?
Pedometer Information for the day:
Addition Blog Picture Posts from today: