If you’ve been following the blog for a while now, you may remember back in April of this year JL Knopp and I completed the Ultimate Magic Kingdom Tour. It had been a goal of mine for some time to complete, and together we tackled it and won. It was an amazingly fun time, and when all was said and done, we swore we’d do it again. If you’re interested in what that adventure was like you can check it out in these two posts:
- Ultimate Magic Kingdom Touring Plan Part 1 – Fairytale Garden Fail
- Ultimate Magic Kingdom Tour Part 2 – Winning The Day
At IHOP immediately after our UMK, we both agreed that the park to try next would be Epcot. While many had tried, no one had yet completed the Ultimate Epcot Tour (at the time). It seemed like the best choice – if you’re going to fail, then do so spectacularly or why bother, right? As soon as I had submitted the data and pictures for the UMK Tour, I immediately began planning the next adventure and set about picking a date.
After talking some with my wife, Cheryl, I began comparing a list of dates we came up with against the Crowd Calendar. And jackpot! One of the dates stood out as the absolute best against the others: September 11, 2011. So why this day? For starters, it was the weekend after Labor Day weekend – well known for notoriously low crowd levels. This was strongly indicated by an overall Walt Disney World crowd level estimate of 2. And Epcot was listed as a 1.1 and the Best Park.
Time would be limited as there were no Extra Magic Hours to be taken advantage of, but this didn’t matter to me as I’m a local and not staying at the resorts – so even if there was EMH I couldn’t take advantage of it. We were looking at a 9am opening time and a 9pm closing time – 12 hours to complete. Doesn’t seem like enough time. However because it’s a Sunday there would be fewer shows to go see as many do not operate on Sundays. Also, there was no show scheduled at the America Gardens Theater as September 11 falls between Sounds Like Summer and Eat to the Beat.
From there you just need to prepare, and back in April I wrote a post all about Preparing For An Ultimate Touring Plan. The big difference from UMK is that the easiest way to break up your Epcot day is to do Future World first and then World Showcase, not to mix and match – at least when you’re not doing EMH. The Epcot plan supports this, whereas for Magic Kingdom, you’re constantly back and forth between the lands. Also, since Epcot does not have a parade, there’s only a single anchor waiting at the very end: IllumiNations.
The night before I got a call from JL, she was very sick and going to have to bow out from the tour. I was upset that she wasn’t going to make it, but I completely understood. Also, I wasn’t going to have to go it alone either. Over the summer another friend of ours, Megan, had asked if she could join us for the UE tour. Bright and early Sunday morning I let Megan know about JL and we adjusted our planned morning so Cheryl would drop me at Megan’s instead of JL’s and from there we headed to Epcot. We were off to the races.
8:20am. We arrived at the Epcot main gate, and immediately got into line for entry. It wasn’t all that busy yet, and we started going over some things, but I quickly realized Megan had studied up well for the adventure and that she was ready. We talked a lot about Vinylmations with a couple behind us who was there for The Florida Project Event. They cringed in fear when we explained what we were going to do that day.
8:46am. We’re through the park gate, and the fear of my pass not working is behind me. Megan grabs us a handful of Times Guides. Some are stored in our pockets for reference, and the rest go into a plastic bag in case it rains. All this while we press on to rope drop.
8:48am. After having positioned ourselves front and center, we get to see the Epcot Welcome Show for what I now realize was one of the last times ever. Getting to meet the the Fab Five up close and personal so early in the morning was totally awesome.
9:00am. As soon as the rope dropped we headed West toward Soarin’ and walked right on the heels of the castmembers as they led us into the Land Pavilion, down the staircase, and all the way through the queue. We sat in A1. As soon as we were done we headed out of the Land to run across Future World.
9:30am. As we’re entering the Test Track queue the wait time drops from 10 to 0. Very cool. No one is in the queue except for the family in front of us. At the front of the line they direct us straight through to the ride – the pre-show is turned off. Minutes are precious even early on. This is good. We practically walked right onto a ride vehicle.
9:42am. We’re walking through the queue for Mission: SPACE Green (Megan declared no Orange!) – walking right into the pre-show. The line for Orange was long – another moment in our favor. This is good, thank you Megan.
10:03am. It’s time for a grand and miraculous journey on Spaceship Earth. We used this as our first snack break of the day. We needed to remember to keep well hydrated and fed, the day was already very hot and there was a lot of running ahead of us. Megan made us a fun video – it had a scene with a pedaled hover bike that I had not seen before.
10:20am. We get into line at the Epcot Character Spot to meet with Mickey Mouse. We’re only required to get an autograph and a photo with a single character. At 24 minutes this turned out to be our longest wait all day, but he’s worth it.
11:00am. In Innoventions East there is only one choice for us, Sum of All Thrills. It is after all the only ride that shares my birthday – I can’t pass it over. I hadn’t done the bobsleds in a while, I forgot about the snow & ice.
11:34am. Cha dudes and dudettes, it’s time for Turtle Talk with Crush. Megan and I discuss that at shows the best place to sit throughout the day will be in the back closest to an exit door. That way we can always bolt out he door as needed. We talked a bit about the updated Animator’s Palete on the Disney Dream. The plan works, we’re the first ones out, and afterward we take our first bathroom break.
11:59am. We head back into the Land to ride Living with the Land. Biggest disappointment of the day is being in the Land at lunchtime and not eating at Sunshine Seasons – only made worse by being on a ride where you go past lots of food. Megan laments the moment.
12:16pm. Time to watch Simba yell at Timon and Pumbaa in The Circle of Life. There’s no education in this “environmental message” other than “people stink and they’re ruining the planet”. A better, stronger, more coherent message is so needed here.
12:41pm. We head on over to Figment’s open house inside of Journey into Imagination with Figment. I always enjoy the music in here, but I do miss the old ride. Afterward we take a short break over near Innoventions West.
1:00pm. Right on time the JAMMitors show up to perform their garbage pail playing music. The feigned “impromptu” act of the show cracks me up. It is oversold and over-performed, but that’s what makes it great. We’re only required to watch for 5 minutes though, so we move on.
1:06pm. We managed to walk into Captain EO just in time to see the spectacular 80s-ness of the pre-show. I’ve said it before, this movie is just pure cheesy awesomeness. There is no finer tribute to the “King of Pop.”
1:36pm. We take a super brief detour into Club Cool, and quickly grab our three samples. I went with my 3 standby flavors: Smart Watermelon from China, Kinley Lemon from Israel, and my favorite, Mezzo Mix from Germany. Megan set hers up for a picture. We got in, chugged, and got out.
1:42pm. It’s our last attraction in Future World, Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and it’s also the longest Attraction in the park. We sat ourselves in the front row, as far away from castmembers as possible. Declaring it lunctime, we ate while Bill Nye the Science Guy did his cool geeky thing.
We exited the Universe of Energy at 2:18pm, or 5 hours and 30 minutes in (going by the start of the Welcome Ceremony), the Future World portion of our Ultimate Epcot Touring Plan was complete. It went very smoothly and we made only one deviation when we stopped for JAMMitors earlier that the Plan suggested. At this point Megan and I still weren’t sure if we would finish, but our determination and confidence were strong.
Did we win? Come back next week to find out. Face front, true believer! Excelsior!
- Read Part 2: Ultimate Epcot Touring Plan Part 2 – World Showcase
- Photos: All the photos we took