*Twiddles thumbs. Checks Twitter. Reads a blog post.*
Done? Okay, let’s ‘soar’ right in!
Pick your mode of transportation! Soarin’ is a popular ride that allows you to hang-glide over California, feeling the wind in your face whilst smelling the fragrance of zesty orange trees. (Fun Fact: The first model for Soarin’ was made out of an erector set!) Once you land on solid ground, hop in a Chevy at Test Track. Strap yourself in and brace yourself for the ride of your life! Put on your space suit, join the NASA team and shoot for the stars as you travel to Mars in your rocket via Mission: Space. To ease back into Earth’s gravity, swim underwater to the ‘clamobile’ where The Seas with Nemo & Friends take you “under the sea.” Finally, use those feet and travel indoors to Innoventions where you’ll find interactive and educational games the whole family will enjoy.
There are many reasons why the Disney Parks stand apart from other theme parks around the world, but one of the biggest has to be Disney’s incredible attention to detail. You can see the extra mile in the form of details just about everywhere on Disney property, from attractions to parade costumes to resorts to transportation to even the bathrooms! Personally, I love the details. They are not only appealing to the eye and fun to find, but almost always meaningful to the history of an attraction or to the story the Imagineers are trying to tell. For today’s post, we are focusing on some of the hidden details of Epcot!
Did you know that a section of World Showcase is actually a drawbridge? If you have been to Epcot, you have surely walked over it but probably didn’t even know it! The purpose for the drawbridge is so that the barges carrying fireworks and the huge globe for Illuminations can pass from the backstage area onto the lagoon. This usually takes place in the afternoon near the Refreshment Outpost. Warning: If you happen to be in this part of World Showcase when the bridge lifts, you may be stranded for a short time!
Epcot’s France Pavilion
Epcot’s France Pavilion is absolutely lovely and picturesque, especially at night. However, the hidden detail we uncovered at this pavilion is near the water, next to the silhouette stand just over the bridge. In addition to an old fashioned camera and a case of postcards and photos is a a box of paintings. If you flip through the canvases, you may discover that a few changes have been made to these masterpieces, like this little reference to Mickey!
Epcot’s Morocco Pavilion is one of our favorites in that there are so many corners and streets to explore. Many guests don’t know that a little museum can be found in this pavilion. It’s not clearly marked and the doors are usually closed, but go ahead and pull it open. You’re allowed!
Inside, you will find exhibits and artifacts native to the Moroccan culture and it’s very interesting! I often use it as a go-to when it rains, as few know about it and it gives me something to do until the weather clears.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Several World Showcase pavilions, such as the Canada Pavilion, show entertaining films to inform guests about their respective country’s landscape and culture. However, few guests know that the O’Canada Theater is tucked at the very back of the pavilion among the rock work and waterfalls. The theater is meant to resemble a mine; and the waiting area inside truly looks like you’re in a shaft. It also offers another view of the waterfalls and streams! This little hideaway is packed full of details and shouldn’t be missed.
The Seas with Nemo and Friends in Epcot’s Future World is one of our favorite pavilions in the whole park and is home to a massive aquarium that can easily entertain young and old alike for hours. When you pass through the queue for the Finding Nemo dark ride at the pavilion entrance, look up to see the boat which Nemo was dared to touch in the film! Also, in the pavilion’s massive aquarium, look for a Disney character shaped out of rocks at the bottom of the tank. I’ve seen a Mickey in the past; but during my last trip, I discovered a Goofy.
Epcot’s United Kingdom Pavilion
Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion is packed full of history and details, but for one you may not have noticed, look up! The chimneys atop the shops in the United Kingdom pavilion are dark with soot. This is a clever hidden detail used for historical accuracy and to create the illusion that these chimneys are still working.
Le Cellier Steakhouse
Have you ever been to Epcot in the rain? If you have, think about walking under Spaceship Earth. You didn’t get wet, did you? It would make sense though that rainwater would flow down the grooves and onto the people below, but it doesn’t! This is due to a special system in Spaceship Earth which collects the water so that guests don’t get soaked entering and exiting the park, a truly hidden detail!
One of the most popular restaurants in all of Epcot, and one of my personal favorites, is Canada’s Le Cellier Steakhouse. This delicious restaurant is known for its filet mignon and Cheddar Cheese Soup. What guests probably don’t know is that each section of this restaurant is themed after a Canadian province. Be sure to ask your waiter or waitress about the history of the province in which you are dining, as well as what province they are from. It’s very interesting!
So these are just a few of the many details to be discovered at Epcot. Which of these have you found? Do you have a favorite?
Summer is here, and by now hopefully everyone has had a chance to enjoy a fireworks display. I got a chance to enjoy the fireworks in a small Colorado town on the 4th of July. My friends’ house had a great view of the town’s fireworks display from their back deck, so all we had to do was sit down and enjoy!
I did notice that something was missing. While the display was an impressive sight and had a variety of fireworks, there wasn’t really any plan to the show. One shot went up. BOOM! Another shot went up. BOOM! Oh – here’s a change of pace - two going off at the same time! BOOM BOOM! The only time the show really ratcheted it up was at the end, when the sky was smothered with all of the fireworks they had left.
Was your viewing of fireworks the same as mine? Did you feel like it was missing…well…a little Disney magic?
There’s something wildly appealing about special viewing for fireworks. Whenever we travel to Disneyland we always book packages that include exclusive spots to see the evening finales. But even as a local I was excited to see what FastPass+ viewing for IllumiNations would offer. Most of all I wanted to know if it was really worth burning one of your valuable tier one FastPass+ choices. So this week I set out to find out if IllumiNations is really worth your FastPass+.
I arrived on a Wednesday night around 7:15pm to very low crowds. Looking at the photo on the left, you can tell the park was pretty empty. My FastPass+ window for arrival was set between 8:35pm – 8:55pm. I had some time to kill, so I hopped a ride on Spaceship Earth with no wait before taking a leisurely walk back to the World Showcase.
Along the way I formulated a plan to try something completely new to me. You’ll have to forgive me if I take a little detour from the subject at hand, but have you tried a cronut? I hadn’t, and now I’m sad I waited so long! They’re available at Refreshment Port on your way to Canada when entering the World Showcase. Half donut, half croissant – but all delicious! You really have to try one the next time you’re here. You’ll be glad you did!
After finishing my snack I decided to find this FastPass+ viewing area. I lucked out because I was already in Canada. The entrance is on the right hand side of the Port of Entry gift shop you see when first entering that side of World Showcase. That’s where my luck ended, because at just a little after 8:00pm the line already stretched pretty far!
Last week I reviewed my first experience at the Epcot After Hours Wind Down. (You can find it here.) While I was excited to share the event with you guys, everyone had lots of questions for me that I couldn’t answer at the time. This past weekend I set out to get the scoop. (And some yummy Moroccan food at Spice Road Table!)
Are kids allowed? At this time children are not allowed and the event is only for guests over 21 years of age. I spoke to a couple different cast members and neither had heard anything about a children or family events being added in the future.
Is it busy? This is one answer that changed dramatically week over week. Last weekend I was honestly concerned that this after hours party might get cancelled before the scheduled end date. There were only a few other guests sharing the restaurant with us and that just didn’t seem sustainable. Wow- what a difference a week makes! Spice Road Table was hoppin’ when we were there Saturday. It looked like every seat was taken in the dining room.
Are reservations required? They are not required but they are recommended. Seeing how busy it was this weekend I would be very sure to reserve your table if this experience is important to you.
Which Location? I’ve been to Tutto Gusto and Spice Road Table, and I very much preferred Spice Road Table. I thought the food was much more appropriate at this location and the service was impeccable. If you’d like to see the menu, Seth did a great review of Spice Road Table and La Cava del Tequila you can find here. We at TouringPlans haven’t tried Rose & Crown yet. Personally, I think Spice Road will remain my favorite but everyone will have to look at the reviews and choose their favorite!
You can see Epcot from a unique perspective — for a price — at the new After Hours Wind Down.
Recently, we brought you the first word on Epcot After Hours Wind Down, a brand-new after hours program that began on April 17 at World Showcase in Walt Disney World’s Epcot park. Because we are will to sacrifice almost anything — including sleep, brain cells, and our livers — to bring Touring Plans readers complete coverage, my wife and I volunteered to be opening-weekend guinea pigs for this new food and alcohol tasting adventure (it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it…). Now that our hangovers have cleared, enjoy this exclusive in-depth Epcot After Hours Wine Down review, covering the experiences offered at Mexico’s La Cava del Tequila and Morocco’s Spice Road Table.
La Cava del Tequila Wind Down Review
Since I developed a new appreciation for tequila while reviewing Universal CityWalk‘s Antojitos, I chose to attend the Wind Down tasting at Mexico’s La Cava del Tequila, long one of my favorite bars inside any theme park. The tasting sessions are scheduled to begin at 9:20 p.m., but because we watched IllumiNations before from near Morocco (on the opposite side of the World Showcase lagoon), I didn’t arrive until approximately 8 minutes into the session. I suggested that they hold the start time until at least 15 minutes after the closing fireworks, but until that change is made I strongly suggest watching the show from a spot nearby your selected tasting venue.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six Things We Wish Theme Park Fans Would Stop Complaining About. It’s hard to believe that in a land full of fantastical theme parks, luxurious hotels, and wonderful memories filled with pixie dust that people could have anything to complain about. But they do. In fact, after a thorough investigation the Saturday Six staff has compiled a list of 548,321 complaints, and that’s just in the Florida parks. Today we’re going to look at the six of most prevalent complaints and say “STAHP!”
If you thought Talking Mickey was a hit, wait till Barista Mickey makes his debut….
# 6 – “They are building too many Starbucks”
Out of nowhere, Starbucks has seemed to have taken over the theme park world in Florida. The first step in theme park world domination for the coffee brand? The beloved Main Street Bakery at the Magic Kingdom. Starbucks then moved over to Epcot and replaced the Fountain View Cafe, complete with a hidden Communicore logo to appease the hardcore fans. Two more Starbucks are coming to Downtown Disney, and it is rumored that locations will be also be opening up at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, sooner rather than later. Not to be outdone, the Starbucks location over at Universal’s CityWalk is moving from its second floor No-Man’s-Land location down onto the ground level, and Island of Adventure’s Arctic Express has been converted into a Starbucks.
What’s going here? The answer is simple. People love Starbucks. Period. The Starbucks brand is strong enough that it can charge a premium price for a drink you can get almost anywhere else cheaper, and have people lining up for it. While the Main Street Bakery certainly wasn’t hurting for business before, it’s easy to see how successful the ones at Downtown Disney and Universal will be compared to what they are replacing. The new Starbucks locations are in prime real estate and will be all but printing money.
If these Starbucks locations were McDonald’s, you could make a case that there are better restaurants all over either property. If the locations were Dunkin’ Donuts you could make a case that there are better bakeries around. But no one at Disney or Universal is doing a better job than Starbucks at making good coffee and, as far as we know, the world didn’t end when the first Grande Latte was served on Main Street.
New Year’s Eve is just three short weeks away, and those lucky enough to be at Walt Disney World during this time are in for some amazing treats! Here is an idea of some of the fun you can expect to see at Walt Disney World for New Year’s Eve.
Celebrate 2014 with a bang…literally…as the Magic Kingdom will show not one, but two fireworks spectaculars on two separate nights. On December 30 and 31, guests may take in Holiday Wishes: Celebrate The Season at 9 p.m. and then Fantasy in the Sky, which is scheduled for 11:50 p.m.
This year, World Showcase will feature a variety of DJs found situated throughout the different pavilions. Guests can dance in the New Year at the Future World Fountain Stage, near the Italy Stage, at the America Gardens Theatre, and by the United Kingdom Stage, among others. As we mentioned a few weeks back, many World Showcase restaurants are also offering special dining opportunities.
Two showings of IllumiNations will light up the sky on New Year’s Eve, ending with the Holiday Tag after the 6:30 p.m. show and the New Year’s Eve Countdown spectacular after the 11:40 p.m. show.
The inferno barge from Illuminations is out for repairs for an undetermined length of time. The show will be running without its signature plumes of fire and brimstone for at least a few weeks. Earliest estimates are saying late March, others are saying mid-April before its return.
The Earth Barge has finished its refurbishment and is back in the show at Epcot’s Illuminations. The quality of the globe is much improved and we can actually make out the images now. Video is from wdwmagic.com via youtube.