Observations from Epcot: June 12, 2013

by on June 17, 2013 24 Comments

Filed under: Observations, Walt Disney World (FL)

001When I found out several months ago that my aunt was visiting Walt Disney World for the first time ever with a friend, I was so excited to help them plan! I immediately sent her a copy of the Unofficial Guide, made sure she had a TouringPlans subscription, and told her I was available any time to help plan things. There were a few phone conversations about park hoppers and car rentals…but then she said she was all set. I should have known better.

The night before she arrived I asked her where they were going there first day and what plans they had. She then informed me they had made no plans: they were going to sleep in and then show up at Epcot whenever and just wing it. WHAT?! No. You can’t say something like that to me. My JOB is planning and Disney World. You can’t just tell me you’re going to show up and wing it. She hadn’t even looked at the Unofficial Guide I sent her.

Immediately I rescheduled my whole day and instructed her to meet me at the Epcot turnstiles at 8:30am. I was going to last-minute plan their vacation to make sure they saw everything they wanted.

014When we met up the next morning and she saw there was already a large crowd at the turnstiles, my aunt clearly regretted her decision to not plan anything. I told her not to worry and began to put things together. I started by asking what her “must-do’s” were for Epcot and suggested a few of my own, as well. I made a Touring Plan on my phone and got it ready for the day about to begin. I then went through the other 3 parks and made plans for the following few days based on what they really wanted to see. In less than 30 minutes we had basic plans ready to go for all 4 parks.

003As soon as the turnstiles opened we headed in and began checking things off the list. Soarin’ FASTPASS, Test Track (where I designed the most fuel-inefficient monster of a car ever),  Mission: SPACE, The Seas with Nemo and Friends, Living with the Land, Spaceship Earth, and Journey into Imagination…by 11:00 we had finished all of Future World. The only ride we hadn’t done was Ellen’s Energy Adventure, and I told them to save that for if they had time later that day. It was so great to see the parks through the eyes of people who had never been to Epcot. They both really enjoyed everything.

005The only major new thing we noticed in Future World was all the construction going on in the Land Pavilion. One of the escalators is completely walled off, and the buzz seems to be that it could take up to six months to be fixed. To help with the flow of traffic, the emergency exit doors near Soarin’ (by the bathrooms) are open, and there is a pathway that winds around backstage and takes guests back into the park near Imagination. I’m not sure if this actually helps with crowd flow, but it was neat to see a little bit of backstage and convenient to not have to go all the way upstairs just to then go right back down the hill.

013Before we left Future World my aunt wanted to take a look around Mouse Gear. While we were there I noticed a few new items. They had some really great attraction poster magnets with original artwork from Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, it’s a small world, and Tropical Serenade. They were really good looking and only $4.95 each (very cheap in Disney-prices). They also had a few new phone cases for iPhones, including one that featured Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. There also were 3D Marvel cases with Iron Man, Thor, and Spider-Man.

We then headed into World Showcase. At this point a lot of my worries about their having a great experience at Epcot had melted away. They had the rest of the day to explore World Showcase, and that was plenty of time to enjoy everything. After riding Gran Fiesta Tour and Maelstrom we decided to split up for the rest of the day. The Advanced Dining Reservation System was down, so I couldn’t make them any dining reservations. But I left them with instructions to try to get a walk-in at Via Napoli and if that failed to eat in the bar at Tutto Gusto. I reminded them that IllumiNations was at 9, told them to call if they had questions, and then headed off to find some lunch for myself.

016After browsing menus in my Lines app on my phone, I settled on Liberty Inn in the American Adventure Pavilion. I had only tried one thing on the menu there previously and wanted to try something new. When we walked in I noticed that in the dining room there was a fancy table set up with a table cloth, silverware, and flowers. I was curious what it was doing in a counter service dining room and decided to ask a Cast Member. The Cast Member told us that was a special table set up for the family of the day and then asked if we wanted to be that family! I was so excited! She instructed us to go ahead to the register and order and then she would help us out.

As soon as we ordered and paid the same Cast Member came to us, said we didn’t have to wait for our food, and led us to the fancy table. After we were seated she left and returned shortly with our drinks…in real glasses! It felt so silly to be served like in a real restaurant at Liberty Inn that we couldn’t stop giggling. It was so much fun.

021When our food came out it was brought on real plates under fancy silver domes! It was like something out of a movie. It was so odd to see normal counter service food being served like we were at some fancy French restaurant in a movie. I had ordered the grilled chicken flatbread with bacon, cheese, and red pepper aioli. I wasn’t expecting too much after my previous experiences here, but I was pleasantly surprised! The chicken was juicy, and the toppings were all very flavorful. It was a delicious sandwich that I will definitely have again.

After a few texts to make sure my aunt was all settled (they did get into Via Napoli and had a lovely lunch) we ended our day at Epcot.

Posted on June 17, 2013

24 Responses to “Observations from Epcot: June 12, 2013”

  • Is it weird that I want to know what happens with the rest of their vacation? What did they do when you weren’t there? Did they follow your instructions??

    • Haha! Exactly what I was thinking! I wouldn’t mind a play by play’

      • by Scarlett Litton on June 19, 2013, at 10:24 am EST

        They had a really great time. Star Tours, Toy Story Mania, and meeting Mickey were the highlights of their trip.

    • by Scarlett Litton on June 19, 2013, at 10:24 am EST

      Not weird at all! They did follow my instructions and had a wonderful time. They got to do all the things they wanted and are planning to come back again. My aunt has promised she is going to use the guide this time. 🙂

  • Awesome! Now that is Karma!!

  • I did the same thing when I found out my friends were going to disney the next day for just TWO days and they DIDN’T HAVE A PLAN (and they have two school aged kids!). I immediately went home, made a touring plan and emailed it to her. They had been to MK and AK a few times before, but they said that this time they couldn’t believe how much they were able to do at Magic Kingdom and Epcot. They had originally planned to do Hollywood Studios instead Epcot because they had heard that ‘there wasn’t anything at Epcot for kids’. Who spreads such hate-filled rumors??? I didn’t get to go with them like you did (I live in Michigan), but I loved hearing how much they loved the attractions when they got back 🙂

    • by Scarlett Litton on June 19, 2013, at 10:26 am EST

      I’m so glad you were able to help your friends! It was really great getting text updates from my aunt about all the fun they were having. Makes the heart attack she gave me by not planning almost worth it.

  • My wife’s cousin (notice how I disavow any blood ties to me)and family went to Florida without telling us. When Diane read their posting about how long the lines were at Magic Kingdom, I immediately performed an RATP (Random Act of Touring Plan) for the other 3 parks and sent them to their email.
    I know that I will never be thanked, but we have heard through the grapevine that they then saw more before lunch in DHS than in the entire 14-hour unplanned day at MK.
    My point being that Friends don’t let Friends do Disney Unplanned!!
    Be a Designated Planner!!

    • You’ve heard the line: Designated Drivers – nerds saving lives? Designated Planners – nerds saving vacations.

    • LOVE this. Now I have a label for when I start planning everyone elses vacation. Designated Planner.

    • by Scarlett Litton on June 19, 2013, at 10:27 am EST

      That’s is a truly good deed. She may not thank you, but I will. Thank you for ensuring one more family loves Disney and won’t go home to spread rumors about how awful and crowded it was.

  • Disney gets a bad reputation from the people who want to just go and wander around and wander into the rides and so on and so on. These people just don’t have the information. Why do people wait in the long lines? They think there’s no better alternative. 90% of people there are like this. Then they come back and say, it’s all expensive line waiting.

    That’s what a touring plan gets you. It gets you through the park in a way that takes the known data and plots out a path where the lines will be short.

    There are so many secrets, and especially cheats (tricks that are not really good to publish, because they will get shut down) at WDW. I call them cheats because cast members can’t and won’t and sometimes tell you that’s not an option. But it totally is possible.

    But one can’t just look around and wander the parks and glean this information. It takes planning and reading unofficial guide (and some other boards).

    Eventually though, Disney is trying to “equalize” the guest experience so that everyone is miserable equally. This process of updates only serves to increase the planner’s ability and the “in the know” person’s rewards for doing the shortcuts. Although it does make the process of executing and figuring out ways around the crowd control systems a process of constant updates. Fastpass+ is a good example. Enforced return times is another good example. “Free dining” has caused a shift in crowd patterns.

    In order to experience Disney without so much waiting or with much more fulfilling results:
    You’ve got to use the recent data from the data compilers. You can’t just look out on the crowd at the turnstile at 8:30 and go MAN IT’S CROWDED. And then follow the crowd slowly to every place they’re going.

    Don’t even get started on the ticket pricing information, hotel information, the travel to WDW information, the restaurant reviews, etc. etc..

    I just want to put in one gripe: The Hess gas stations are not mentioned in the unofficial guide as a quick and easy way to get food. They have a Quizno’s in one and gas station food in the other. Tons of CMs are always picking up food here. This has been a great little cheap place to save some $$ on food. And it’s usually better food than some of the less appealing options in MK or DHS or AK.

    Bottom line: People don’t want to put effort and thought into a vacation, but I don’t get it. I don’t have unlimited vacation funds. I would much rather that my vacation as a whole is spent in a much more enjoyable way, than to just view going to Disney as a once every 3 year chore/waste of vacation $$ I do because I “have” to for my kids.

    Done “right”, IMO, Disney offers the best vacation value in the US. Done “wrong” and it’s a horrible waste of time and money.

    • by Scarlett Litton on June 19, 2013, at 10:28 am EST

      I agree about Disney being the best vacation if you plan accordingly. You can have so many wonderful experiences if you just do a little research.

  • Oh my gosh! I KNOW! I guess we devotees of the U. O. Guide are just planning types. Our more spontaneous brothers and sisters don’t understand us, and we don’t understand them. We just got back from 8 days in the World and I couldn’t believe the number of people trying to stroll in at 10:30 and think they could walk right on to headliner rides. Even more amazing, some of these people were willing to stand in the stand-by lines for well over an hour. It makes me soooooo crazy! I loved the article about you coming to the rescue for your family, Scarlett! It’s what I would have done, too!

    • There are tradeoffs. Don’t want to get up for rope drop? Go during a slow time of year (last week of February 2013 and judicious use of Fastpass meant we waited very little)

      • by Scarlett Litton on June 19, 2013, at 10:30 am EST

        That’s an excellent point! In my aunt’s case that isn’t really possible since she is a teacher…but I tell people that all the time.

    • by Scarlett Litton on June 19, 2013, at 10:29 am EST

      I’m so happy to see all the comments from people who really understand the panic I felt knowing my family didn’t plan at all. Thank you!

    • I too have helped (or tried to help) my “wing it” friends on their vacations. It always amazes me the number of people who tell me, “oh, we don’t like to plan anything. It’s vacation. We jsut want to relax and let whatever happens happen.” What is going to happen is a whole lot of standing around in the heat, eating burgers and frenchfries on the curb, that’s what’s going to happen.

      I am one of those that doesn’t like to have my whole day planned out. BUT, I am one who makes my ADRs at the 180, plans a “start park” for the day and goes in September/October every year. I do some “wing it” but I can because my parks are a 1.0-2.0 and not a 9.0-10.0! We are not early birds, so I am all about the slow season.

  • I second the desire to know how the rest of your aunt’s visit went.

    We really are a self selected group of planners, and it’s so hard when people talk about going and have no clue. Then they don’t want well intentioned advise, have a miserable time, and say they will never go again. It’s sad, but on the other hand I think to myself “well then, at least they won’t part of the crowds I’m griping at on my next trip.”

    • by Scarlett Litton on June 19, 2013, at 10:31 am EST

      It went very well. I think she is now a firm believer in Touring Plans and the Unofficial Guide.

  • Scarlett, all the commenters are passing over the most important part of your post!

    *** How did you design the most inefficient car possible on Test Track? ***

    I’ve only gotten to do the design process once, but that’s exactly what I tried to do. Hopefully on our next trip, now that they have the FastPass line going through the design room, I’ll have more than one chance to do this.

  • We love SCARLETT! Thanks and keep up the great blogs!!