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After a late dinner and lack of sleep the previous day, we slept in before heading to Epcot for the park’s opening at 11 AM. We left Pop Century around 10:30 and had no trouble getting to the park right around opening. There was a decent backup at the main Caribbean Beach Skyliner Station but that line moved relatively quickly. Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival was in full bloom at that point, about a week into the run. We started with some corn bread from one of the marketplaces before heading to the festival’s butterfly garden.
The butterfly garden is always a highlight of the Flower & Garden Festival and this year was no exception. While it got a little stuffy in there and physical distancing was harder to patrol, the creatures and flowers are well worth stopping in for. I do miss the apple sauce packs they used to hand out though!
We kept the nature trend going from there, enjoying Living with the Land. This Land Pavilion attraction is always lovely but it underscores just how pretty the theme parks are in the spring. Everything is more colorful and that especially seems true in Epcot and the castle parks. I’m guessing that’s because each park has more wide open spaces than other theme parks.
We noticed that Frozen Ever After’s wait time was surprisingly low, under thirty minutes, for being midday so we walked over to World Showcase and got in line there. Sure enough, we were on the ride within about 20 minutes. Then disaster hit! Or was it good luck? Going to Disney Parks so often inevitably leads to some weird bucket list items. For us that means getting evacuated off of any ride is a dream come true. So, we rode Frozen Ever After and saw Olaf and Sven, then Elsa, then went down a few drops and then towards the end we got stuck. Getting stuck for a couple of minutes on that attraction isn’t all that uncommon but after five minutes it was clear something was wrong.
Before long announcements went over the speakers and the animatronics stopped moving. Eventually lights came on and Cast Members were alongside our boat. They explained the situation, how they’d have to drain the attraction and move our boat manually before we could be evacuated. Then they left and the water drained before them returning and pulling our boat around the corner. It was all very exciting as the family behind us watched Olaf shorts on their phone between exclaiming, “We’re frozen on Frozen!”
For as many Disney trips as I’ve been on, I have only been evacuated once before and that was just at the tail end of the People Mover. This was much more thorough and the Cast Members were very accommodating and kind. More than that, it was fun to see a few behind the scenes things. After an extra 15 minutes on the attraction, we were walking out and given a FastPass for our troubles! I’ve never liked Frozen Ever After more.
How do you come down from such a high of getting stuck on an attraction for 15 minutes? By photographing a troll topiary, of course! That was said in jest but I do love that Norway Pavilion troll. He’s got some crazy eyes.
We spent the next little bit wandering around World Showcase. I stopped in Germany to get a small snack and wound up with this Caramel Flight. Karamell-Küche has never led me wrong before but these were very underwhelming with a few really lacking in flavor and others having too strong of a licorice taste. Maybe others have had better experiences here? I’ve tried 3 or 4 other things here and they’re all delicious.
Continuing around World Showcase, we checked in on the new France Pavilion area and saw it in the daylight. Enjoying it before the rest of the expansion opens was nice and I’ll miss the solitary of those bathrooms. I do love a good solitary bathroom. We also saw a Cast Member showing off Remy on a platter. I hope he doesn’t get cooked!
We made our way over to the Canada Pavilion a little ahead of our lunch reservation at Le Cellier. The gardens in front of the restaurant are always gorgeous but especially colorful on that March day. I’ll have a full review of Le Cellier in the next few days but we really enjoyed the food there. Somehow we hadn’t been there despite its popularity and how many other restaurants we’ve tried at WDW.
After lunch, we decided to make use of our Frozen Ever After Mishap FastPass (that’s the official name) on Test Track. I generally skip over Test Track these days as the line just doesn’t quite measure up to the quality of the ride for me. That said, it’s still a fun attraction in a park void of… fun attractions? I hate to say that as Epcot has a few attractions that I love but there aren’t many that you just laugh during. Test Track is a laugh worthy ride sometimes (for good and bad reasons) and hopefully the park will add more of those rides in the coming years.
We walked through a few stores before heading out the back of Epcot towards the Skyliner. Epcot really is a mess with most of the core spine of the park having been ripped out. The middle of the park is just not pretty and that’s even more noticeable when it’s a stark contrast to both the entrance and World Showcase. Construction does seem to be moving along quickly on some of the projects but it’s hard to know what has been cut due to the pandemic. I’m eager to see the finished product but we’re years away from that and don’t even know what that finished product will be at this point.
I’d been monitoring wait times for the first few days of the trip and noticed a steep drop off once we hit the early evening hours. With that in mind and knowing that the middle of the day had very high waits with spring break crowds coming, we hopped over to Hollywood Studios to check a few rides off the list. Thankfully the plan worked very well!
With about two hours before park closing, we got in line for Runaway Railway and only waited about 20 minutes. The majority of that queue is outside in front of the Chinese Theater and the line really seems to drop off a few hours before park closing.
From there, we took a ride on Toy Story Mania which had less than a 15 minute wait. This attraction has benefited the most from Hollywood Studios adding rides over the last few years. What was often an hour long wait has routinely become less than half an hour. I’m sure adding a third loop of the ride helps too. I won this round, just in case you were curious 😉
Next we walked over to Galaxy’s Edge and took advantage of a relatively short wait at Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. Hollywood Studios version of this attraction never quite seems to get to the Disneyland times of simply just walking on about an hour before closing but the lines do dwindle towards the end of the day. The rest of my family hadn’t seen Galaxy’s Edge before so we took a stroll through the market section and there were lamps so I, of course, couldn’t help but take a photo or two.
Yes, I’ve written a post about my favorite lamps and lanterns at Disney Parks. Honestly, the ‘My Favorite Trees in Disney Parks’ post is close to happening but I don’t think there’s an audience for that. The tree above probably makes that list being a Galaxy’s Edge standout.
Having completed those three attractions and still having another 20 minutes before park closing, we doubled back to Toy Story Land and got on Slinky Dog Dash. This was our longest wait of the four attractions but we were still on in under half an hour. It was also my first time riding on the coaster in the dark and I think it upped the thrill a little bit.
Relative to Epcot, Hollywood Studios is full of attractions that are simply there just to make you laugh. Honestly, the parks may be on opposite ends of the spectrum where DHS might need a few more thoughtful attractions. Rise of the Resistance and Tower of Terror are clearly marvels with well thought out plots. After that, the rides are extremely fun while also being pretty surface level. I’m not snooty enough to think that all attractions should have some deep meaning or be contemplative. Like movies or books, we need things that are simply fun and nothing more. But a great theme park has a nice mix of fun, beauty and thoughtfulness and Hollywood Studios might be a little short on the latter for now.
That’s not to say the park isn’t leaps and bounds above what it was a few years ago. You can fill a day up with quality attractions there and have a good time. Galaxy’s Edge adds a nice depth to the park and Runaway Railway brings a nice family attraction. Hopefully the park doesn’t stop there.
We headed back to Galaxy’s Edge for some nighttime photos after Slinky dashed around the track. Security let us linger for a very long time and I got some photos. It made me miss Disneyland all the more, as I spent so much time taking photos in Galaxy’s Edge the previous year doing the exact same thing. I’m excited to be back there. Anyway, I was pretty pleased with the results and got a few weird ones with people walking through with a lightsaber. Here’s a few of my favorites.
We left Hollywood Studios accomplished that night, knowing how much we’d gotten done in a short amount of time. Unfortunately, one flaw in the plan was a lack of dinner. We got back to Pop Century and checked out the menu at Everything Pop! It isn’t a great menu. But I was hungry and, in the name of research, we thought we should eat so we did. It was not good.
Outside of missing shows and entertainment, my biggest frustration with WDW during the pandemic is how short the hours and how limited the menus are at most counter-service hotel restaurants. It makes sense that the demand just isn’t there to stay open until midnight and offer the full menu but we ran into this problem constantly over two different trips. All things considered, it’s a minor quibble and I know most people don’t stay an hour after parks closing. But what are these trip reports without me saying anything that comes to mind! We went to bed shortly after our disappointing meal and we’ll pick up the next day at Hollywood Studios!
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