Part 2 - EPCOT [pix at http://tinyurl.com/ywku8x ]
Got on to an EPCOT bound monorail at the Transportation & Ticket Center.
Hadn't planned on a monorail ride, but I always enjoy it. It would be great
if Disney would fork over the money and build it throughout the resort. It's
smooth, fast, comfortable, and advertising free. The latter is noticeable,
because everywhere else you are bombarded with ads. The monorail makes the
great loop thru EPCOT Future World and it is a perfect day. Not a cloud and
everything looks clean and inviting. There are pink Poui trees in full
bloom and it's apparent Spring has arrived in Florida. Disembark, say
goodbye to my British friend, and I head over to Soarin', at the Land
I have heard a lot about this, but never been on it. Arriving at the
FastPass entrance, I have to wait for some park guests who bought a packaged
FastPass bundle (?) and who are distressed to learn that Soarin' is not
included. I enter, and walk past the regular line, whose wait time is still
120 minutes. People are sitting wherever they can, in that line. There's a
large wall separating the 2 queues, but I can see a small portion of the new
interactive games that have been added to their line. Fast Pass riders
cannot play those at all, but who cares. Arriving at a stop point, the
group behind me says they did wait in the Soarin' line and the games became
boring as well. We have a short wait, and then are assigned to rows for
boarding. I'm in Row 2. Go in, and board with seat belts. A rooflike
panel lowers and we swoosh up in front of the screen where the movie begins.
It's very good, and effective, but the man to my left is violating my
personal space with his hand. It's on the hand grip (preventing me from
holding on myself) but it's also right on my left leg. I ask but he doesn't
move it - he's scared. It's not ruining the experience, but I'd rather not
feel his hand. The movie seems a bit short, after all the wait processes,
but the effect is great. I see the advantage of being in Row 1 though, you
don't see people's feet silhouetted at the top of your view. So, if you go,
try for placement on Row 1. My total time, entrance to exit, is 30 minutes;
and that is about what the experience is worth, imho. Depart, taking a left
out of the Land, and head for "The Seas, with Nemo and Friends"
The Seas, with Nemo & Friends:
Another pavilion, formerly The Living Seas, which I have not been to since
its renovation. And this has really been revamped. The exterior is the
same, but the queue area has been refreshed, and the old diving apparatus
museum is gone. It's all docks and sand dunes now. The old movie preshow,
fakey underwater elevators, etc. - all gone. All that has become more
spaghetti of queue areas, and if I ever was in a crowd so large that the
entire queue area was needed I would NOT go on this attraction. Finally
arrive at a boarding area, and all these orangey clamshell cars are snaking
by. Board mine and off we go. All the old dark quasi-educational stuff -
gone. It's all about the Little Nemo movie. Basically a re-creation of the
movie, start to finish. Scenes projected on to vignettes which you go thru.
Well done, but it seems as if it belongs at Magic Kingdom, not Epcot. I'm
thinking "Where's the real fish tanks?", and finally your clamshell arrives
where they can be seen, with Nemo and friends projected inside. They are so
bright and colorful that the real fish look quite muddy. You disembark your
clamshell onto a conveyor, and it opens into an exhibit area. I guess this
is supposed to be more educational, and you can go up and look at the fish,
but I'm trying to get more attractions in, so I head for the exit.
Universe of Energy:
I made my way back thru Innovations, and into the center of Future World. I
want to go on Spaceship Earth, because it's just re-opened (last Monday)
following it's months long refurbishment. But the line is long, so I go
across to the other pavilions: Test Track, Mission Space, etc. They're all
crowded. It's so crowded over here that even the Men's room has a line.
So, I take a left and go to Universe of Energy. My friend told me this was
re-made in 1996, but I have never been on it. So, I go. Sign outside says
it's a 45 minute experience - long! But, I enter into a barren pre-show
cavern of a room. Benches on the back wall and I sit, but seeing senior
ladies standing with nothing to lean on causes me to soon donate my seat to
one of them. So, I get to sit on the floor. Preshow starts, and it's Ellen
DeGeneres from 1996. She's aged but not badly. Using a gigantic cordless
phone with an antenna which has to be put up and down - remember those?
Soon joined by Alex Trebek (dark hair and mustache) and Jamie Lee Curtis
(who looks a LOT younger). Preshow is clever, but a tad long for my floor
seat comfort. Migrate in to the moving theater seats and I sit in the far
back right, a tip I got from my friend. "Best view of dinosaurs". They say
it will last 37 minutes, so the show starts. More 12 years ago Ellen,
cavorting thru time with Bill Nye the Science Guy (is he still a
celebrity?). The seats "go" and we move into the dinosaur area. I do get a
really good look at them, but the animatronics do seem "old school".
Clicking and hissing and jerky movements. I don't think any kids were
scared of these dinos. It's enjoyable, but not spectacular. Arrive back for
more Ellen n friend's movie and finally the ride ends. I'm glad because my
seat was made for someone 8 inches shorter than I am, plus it's HARD
plastic. Ow. Depart, and make a beeline for the coffee stand, just outside.
The "new & improved?" Spaceship Earth:
This is the central feature of EPCOT, its hallmark; but S E was closed for
months to be updated. Line looks long, but it's a constant loader so the
queue moves steadily. Boarding area, and the cars look identical, except
the panel in front of you has a touch screen monitor in it. Board 'n go,
and if you remember Walter Cronkite's voice speaking to you, it has been
replaced by Judi Densch's. The computer screen asks you questions and your
picture is taken for later. The storyline turns out to be the same, but
all the animatronics have been replaced. They mainly look similar to the
originals, but look and act much more lifelike. The faces retain that
animatronic "look", but their motion is much more fluid and real. Now you
think "Boy, those dinos at U of E really need this treatment!". The path of
the ride is the same, the vignettes are basically the same, but seem more
colorful. Emerge into the top of the dome, and it's the same view of Earth
from space. Seems to me as if it could use an updated projection, itself.
Then you turn around, and begin to descend on your back and, it's dark. It's
just dark. Nothing much to see around you, but the monitor comes to life.
You get asked questions about your idea of the future, and depending on what
you answer; you get a "personalized" movie depicting your choices. That's
it. Nothing else to see or do, while descending thru the dark. My movie
was pretty much along the lines of the Jetsons. Trying too hard to be cute.
My friend had said the ending 1/3 of the ride was controversial, and I would
like it or hate it. Hated it. It's a big let down, and seems cheap and
easy to me. Depart the car into an exhibit room, and someplace that pic of
me that was taken is morphed into futuristic cartoons, or on a globe. But,
I just want to go to something else, so I leave.
Sundown is approaching, and the lights are beginning to come on. Somewhat
at a loss for what to do next, I end up heading over to the World Showcase
area. It's a spectacularly clear evening, and the full moon is just over
the Test Track pavilion. Take some pictures, and wander thru a heavy crowd
to the Mexico pavilion.
Gran Fiesta Tour, Starring The Three Caballeros:
The new 'mouthful' name of the boat ride attraction inside Mexico. I used
to be dragged on this by my parents, and had not been on it for years, or
decades. But, I knew it had been updated, and that Donald Duck was in it.
Donald is a favorite character, who gets short shrift. So, I get right on -
no line. It follows the same course, but does have many more projected
scenes with Donald and these 2 other characters. Colorful, loud, and
chaotic. It's a nice break. Glad I rode it.
It's darker outside, and I'm feeling tired and hungry. I see the boat taxi
to the other side of the lagoon so I go and sit, vs. walking around.
Disembark, and the boat attendant wishes me a nice evening. If anyone took
a date with them, this was the perfect date night - clear, perfect temp, and
no wind. Dateless me though is hungry. Briefly consider the USA pavilion
burger joint - nah. I go next door and find Japanese, where I can eat
outside under lighted paper lanterns. Better choice. Head back in the
direction I came from and my feet are tired! Many miles this day. Pass
USA, Italy, Germany, a tiny Africa nod, a huge crowd watching acrobats at
China, and come to Norway.
I'd ridden this once, right after it opened, years ago. I remembered that
it sucked, but could not remember why it sucked. So, I wanted to ride it,
even tho I knew suckage would await. 30 min wait - ew. But I go, and the
wait was probably 20 min. I'm seated in the front seat - finally. Of
course it's on a ride which I don't care about. It's off, and we rumble up
a lift hill of sorts and into animatronic areas. These are better than I
remembered. Suddenly confronted by evil trolls, I had forgotten that the
boat goes backwards - oh. So really I'm now in the back seat. Okay. Well
the scenes are okay, and then we encounter another troll who sends us down a
hill. This is where
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