Hi, everyone! Glad you’re able to stop by for a look at the beautiful, sunny weather at Epcot on April 5, 2014! I have a lot to show you, including the new Muppets Scavenger Hunt that just started today. As always, I have lots of photos and video to share. If you were hoping for a look at the Flower & Garden Festival you can look here, this week is more about random fun in the park. Of course, this time of year you almost can’t take a photo without capturing some lovely flowers. So why don’t we start there?
Pretty, aren’t they? But just so you don’t miss the full experience, I grabbed a few seconds of the tram ride in. Doesn’t it feel like you’re really there?
All eyes in the theme park industry turn this week to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, where the grand re-opening of Disney California Adventure is being celebrated in the high style befitting the finish line of a billion-dollar makeover marathon. Before this massive expansion officially opens to the public on June 15, invited media and paying sneak-preview participants will have already had an opportunity to experience the new attractions of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street, and naturally the TouringPlans.com team is there on the scene. Touring Plans’ official photographer Tom Bricker, Unofficial Guide to Disneyland co-author Seth Kubersky, and new Touring Plans researcher Guy Selga, Jr. will all be on-property this week, documenting every detail to your touring advantage. Over the next few days, please check back on the blog for our hot-off-the-press first reviews direct from DCA, edited versions of which will appear in the 2013 edition of the Unofficial Guide.
Radiator Springs Racers (FASTPASS)
Our Rating: 5 stars
Tom Bricker says:
“Aside from ‘sacred classics,’ Radiator Springs Racers is the best Disney attraction ever, in my opinion. I was in absolute awe!”
What it is: Automotive dark ride with high-speed thrills.
Scope and scale: Superheadliner.
When to go: The first 30 minutes the park is open or use FASTPASS.
Special comments: Must be 40″ tall to ride; switching-off option provided; Not to be missed.
Duration of ride: About 4 minutes
Average wait time per 100 people ahead of you: 3 1/2 minutes
The Dreamchasers virtual-reality simulation at the exit of Test Track in Epcot quietly closed down recently and has been replaced with a new interactive area exploring the wonders of alternative fuels.
The main focus is a full scale repliace of the undercarriage of a vehicle along the rear wall which lights up and explains new vehicles systems in a multimedia presentation.
There are also interactive kiosks to explore. Though fairly basic, these seem to harken back to an old-fashioned Epcot feel of interactivity rather then computer screens and keyboards which are commonplace at home and the office.
One often overlooked element is the large projection on the floor.
The image cycles through corn (shown above), lightning, and bouncing words in water. It’s actually a large interactive projection. When you walk through the corn kernels pop into popcorn, the lightning zaps around following you, and bouncing words bounce away and ripple when you step on them.
Test Track at Epcot has become the first ride to feature Disney’s Photopass service.
In place of the old video screens which displayed your image and claim number, screens display an image but direct you to a card reader for a Photopass card (to add the photo to the card) and display the number of seconds left to claim/swipe your Photopass before your image expires and a new guest photo appears.
You still have the option of turning around and directly purchasing the photo from the counter across from the video screens. You simply have to claim/swipe, then present your Photopass for purchase at the counter.
This technology is expected to be expanded to several other attractions over time.
Back when life was simple, Epcot only had one ride that had a reason for Fastpass – Test Track.
In the more complex modern day, a tour of Epcot requires comfortable walking shoes, stamina, and a good plan. The early morning zig-zag from Soarin’ to Test Track often leaves folks with less than desirable Fastpass return times in the mid-afternoon. This is peak time for summer storms though, and those storms will close Test Track temporarily.
The image above shows the mess of a queue that occurs when the ride reopens after one these closures.
Knowledge is half the battle though, and we’re here to help. First, when the rain subsides, try to stay within the general area of the attraction. You can hear if Test Track is running from a good distance. If you have a Fastpass, your ticket will be honored any time after your window when the ride is operating, you do not need to run to the crush of delayed Fastpassers. The crowd will be moved through and the lines will dissipate, often long before the evening crush for Illuminations.