Monday, February 3, 2014

Planning Fastpass+ at Epcot

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Your Walt Disney World vacation is only 60 days away!  You've gotten the go-ahead to start picking Fastpass+ attractions, but with a limit of only three a day, you aren't sure what to choose! 

Epcot definitely has less options than Magic Kingdom (the topic of the previous post) does, but the tiered system in Epcot definitely makes choosing rides a bit more complicated.

Here are some things to keep in mind:
  • Regardless of what you pick ahead of time, you can make last minute changes with your smartphone.  This is especially important to keep in mind if you get to a ride you have reserved, only to find that the stand-by line is really short.
  • The Fastpass+ system is new, and that could throw off what typically has a long standby line and what doesn't.  This also means that the Cast Members might still be learning all of it's quirks too.  Have patience.
  • If you can, you might want to go to Epcot multiple days to take advantage of more than one Fastpass+ in the first tier rides.
  • For more information about reserving Fastpass+ in general, check out this page: Reserving Fastpass+

The breakdown this time will be a bit different than Magic Kingdom, because of the headliners group.


Since you can only pick one of these, I'm going to suggest preferences based on multiple factors/experience.

First Priority
  • Soarin' is one of those unique, Disney only experiences that I personally find to be the highlight of my day at Epcot.  The feeling of being in a hang glider is exactly what I would imagine it to be in real life, and the smell-o-vision makes this entirely sensory experience that is paralleled by none.
  • Because of this, the lines for Soarin' are often some of the longest in all of Walt Disney World.  Riding it without Fastpass+ could mean lines of 80 minutes, and often even longer than that.
Why Not: Though the experience is amazing, Soarin' isn't the most conventionally "thrilling" of the rides at Epcot, and true thrill seekers might want to instead choose the next option.

Second Priority

  • Test Track is the most roller coaster-like you will find in Epcot.  The ride takes you through a simulated test for a new car, and along with the speedy loop around the outside of the building, takes you through hot, cold, and wet conditions, brake tests, and other standard car tests.
  • Another fun aspect is creating a vehicle prototype in the queue line, and receiving points regarding how your car handled during the test after the ride is completed!
Why Not First Pick: Because of the interactive queue line, as well as an average of somewhat shorter standby lines and the option of waiting in the single rider line, I recommend that Soarin' be chosen before Test Track.  However, if you can go to Epcot two days, I would definitely pick this as the headliner on the second day.

Third Priority
  • Why: Illuminations is a beautiful display at the end of the night, but all areas around the water get packed with people trying to have a good view of the display.  Choosing this Fastpass+ will guarantee you a view of the show!
  • Why Not: You can still view the show without this Fastpass+, your view just might not be quite as good.  Unless you get there early!
    • Another option is to plan your dining reservations for Illuminations.  Many of the restaurants around World Showcase offer seating that is great for viewing the fireworks.  I ate at Rose and Crown during my last visit and had an amazing view...and got to sit and eat dessert!

Last Priority
There might be an information overload for this one, sorry guys!
I'm a science major.  So I really like this one.
  • Why: This ride shows various experimental techniques of providing larger masses of food for a growing global population.  It shows the riders the plants associated with some of their favorite foods (coffee and chocolate, for example) as well as demonstrates interesting new growing techniques.
  • Why Not: The line here is often much shorter than the other two top choices in this tier.  This ride, while very interesting, is definitely not as thrilling and memorable as Soarin' or Test Track.  I would suggest just waiting in the standby line for this one.
(If you enjoyed this ride then consider going on the Behind the Seeds tour, which takes you on an hour-long walking tour and gives a more in depth look at the research.  It is $20 a person, and sometimes requires a call-ahead reservation, but walk-up is available if spots are open.  Also, if you enjoyed this ride then try the foods for the lab by eating at Sunshine Seasons (quick service) or Garden Grill (table service), both in the Land Pavilion.)

Other Attractions

These are the other possible picks at Epcot.  There are plenty of great options here, and can easily be tailored particularly to the interests of the group.  Some are more fun, some educational, and some you might pick for the love of a character. 

The thing about these attractions is that the lines tend to be pretty short, typically under half an hour.  Planning this might be more about proximity to other plans on your itinerary, or for nostalgic purposes.  It's totally up to you!

  • Pick this because it's awesome.  Honestly, I was surprised it wasn't a headliner attraction.
  • Why: Mission: SPACE is a really fun attraction that simulates a trip to Mars, and uses authentic space training technology.  There are 2 options, Orange, which replicates G-forces experienced in real life launch and re-entry, and Green, which does not induce G-forces, using only simulated motion technology.  Those prone to motion sickness should likely stick to Green.
  • Why Not: The line, especially if you are choosing Green, is often not very long at all, making the Fastpass+ obsolete.  However, Orange tends to be a little longer, so if you know you want that thrill, definitely grab a Fastpass+.

  • Pick this if you love character interactions.
  • Why: This is a chance to interact with Mickey, Minnie, and another character.  This is a great place to get that coveted Mickey picture during your vacation, and Fastpass+ might be a great way to get it taken care of without standing in a long line.  It's also great to get pictures with 3 of the fab 5 (Mickey, Minnie, and then either Pluto or Goofy) in their classic attire.
  • Why Not: During my last trip, this line wasn't really all that long.  It's in a somewhat hard-to-find location, and I think that leant itself to the somewhat short wait.  However, because it is a Fastpass+ option, this might cause people to seek it out more often, and waits to be long.

  • Pick this for something to ride while exploring World Showcase.
  • Why: This is a cute ride that tells you a little about the history of Norway.  There is a fun part where your boat switches direction and you go down a hill backward.
  • Why Not:
    • Though the ride is "cute," there is nothing all that notable about it.  The hill backward is fun, but that very brief moment is not worth using your headliner Fastpass+.
    • Often the line isn't much over 20 minutes.  This was an exception for me on the last trip, because it was raining, and the queue is inside, so many people rushed toward this ride.

  • Pick this if you love Finding Nemo, or fish.
  • Why: In this ride, you ride your shell car through the aquarium, looking at the fish while technology integrates Nemo (& Friends) to look like they are swimming in the aquarium as well.
  • Why Not: Again, lines are often tolerable on their own.  Also, this ride is slow, and though it is "cute," unless you're a big Finding Nemo fan, it might not be worth waiting or using a Fastpass+.

  • Pick this again, if you love Finding Nemo, if you enjoy watching little kids be cute, or if you are interested in technology.
  • Why: This 15-minute show allows the audience to talk directly with Crush from Finding Nemo.  You can ask him questions, and he might even address you by name.
  • Why Not: Sometimes, Crush talks solely with the kids in the theater.  Though the attraction is really neat, it might not be worth it to use a Fastpass+ just to watch.

  • Pick this if you need something to fill your schedule on your way to the World Showcase (entering from the Canada side).
  • Why: This ride addresses the 5 senses, and how they interact with the imagination.  Figment, the purple dragon that used to have a much larger role in Epoct, serves partly as your guide, and takes you through a "lab" that has different areas for sight, smell, sound, touch, and taste.
  • Why Not: After a refurbishment years ago, this ride has lost it's nostalgia and the line tends to be very short.  In addition, it is designed very much with younger kids in mind.

  • Pick this if you love the 80's, or if you love Michael Jackson.
  • Why: This attraction is a tribute to the most expensive music video ever made, Michael Jackson's Captain EO.  It is fun and nostalgic, and a little silly since it's based off the 80's music video.
  • Why Not: Unless you are a big Michael Jackson fan, you'll likely find this pretty outdated, even with the 2.0 revamp that includes 3D.

My recommendations for this tier would be:
First priority: Mission: SPACE
Second priority: Epcot Character Spot, Maelstrom, or the Seas with Nemo & Friends.

However, that's totally up to your discretion, and might be different based on your particular interests.

Something else I want to add:
There is so much to do other than these Fastpass+ attractions in Epcot.  Here are some things to keep in mind when you are there, or planning your day there ahead of time.
  • The World Showcase, though it lacks rides, it a great place to wander around and just take in how detailed each country is made.  Go into the gift shops and follows the little sidewalks.  Though you aren't riding anything, if you take the time to appreciate them, the Showcases are truly an experience in themselves.  And each has a different kind of country-specific alcohol.  In case you forgot.
  • The Innovations Plazas (East and West) might seem a bit dull at first, but you might want to explore them.  Some really interesting science demonstrations (Take a Nanooze Break and it's example of nanotechnology, for instance) are happening here.
  • More importantly, in Innovations East, you can ride Sum of all Thrills, where you can design a roller coaster, then hop into the simulator to ride your design!
  • Make sure to check out Club Cool.  On the future world side, past Spaceship Earth, you can find a sign that says Club Cool. This area sells Coke products, but also has a soda machine that allows you to try some of the most popular Coke products from places all over the world, including Peru, Italy, and Zimbabwe!

Next, I'm going to analyze Fastpass+ attractions in Hollywood Studios!
Until then, feel free to comment, leaving feedback or questions!

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