Orlando Day 1 – Epcot Center

December 17, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Travel, Travelogues | Leave a comment

Day 1 in Orlando.  EPCOT Center.  Since our plane didn’t arrive until 10 PM the night before we went with the leisurely later morning itinerary instead of the ‘rope drop’ crack-of-dawn strategy.  Being a weekday (Friday, Dec 17) at the very end of low season,  I didn’t expect there to be any problems doing this.

We arrived to the gates about 10:30 AM (about an hour later than originally planned) and headed straight for Soarin to get the Fast Passes, then off to Turtle Talk with Crush.  Crush turned out to be the least favorite attraction of the day.  It just didn’t seem to have the charm it once had.  But with only a 10 min wait, it wasn’t a waist of time.  The Living Seas building is a neat place to go look around at the sea life.

We then headed for Captain EO and when we arrived found out we have about 15 minutes before the next show so we road Figment – a funny little classic at EPCOT.  This ride usually has no line at all and the thing that is really worth the trip over is to do the activities in Imageworks at the end of the ride but you could just walk into Imageworks without riding the ride.  But with no line and the ride only takes about 7 min or so, why not ride it.

Captain EO was good, great if you consider how long ago it was filmed, and really great if you are a big MJ fan. However, I’m not sure if  it was where I was sitting (all the way on the side) or the projector alignment was off, but many times during the film the images didn’t line up right.  One word of advice, don’t be the first to go through the doors as then you will be sitting all the way over unless there are people in front of you that decide to be selfish and defiant and stop in the middle without going all the way overs.  Surprisingly there were no such people for out show. But I’ve seen people do this before.  Ideally you want about a dozen or so people to go through the door before you.  If you are at all a Michael Jackson fan, Captain EO is a must see, if not, you wouldn’t be missing much if you skipped it.

We then headed for lunch to the Sunshine Food Court in the Land Pavillion next to Soarin.  I went and got Fast passes for Test Track and then met everyone back at the Food Court. (Lines for Soarin and Test Track where about 50 min in the late morning.) The crowd was manageable at the Food Court at about 11:45 when we were there and all 7 of us found a seat together.  The food was pretty good for a food court in an amusement park.  An excellent choice for large groups with varied tastes.

We conveniently road Soarin right after lunch.  It was great as always.  The only ride I’ve ever been on where almost all the riders applauded when it was over.  The technology though in my opinion is getting a little dated.  They should do a Florida version or some other version with better resolution image and more scents.  Still one of the top amusement park rides in the world.

We then headed over to the Living Land boat ride since we were right there and even though the sign said 10 min wait we could see there was NO wait.  We found this to be the case at other times where the advertised wait time was signigicantly longer than the actual wait time (but don’t bank on it.)  Living with the Land was surprisingly good, but I wouldn’t wait more than 10 minutes for this relaxed boat ride.

We then headed over to use our Test Track Fast Passes.  What a great ride. I’d wait up to 30 min for this ride any day (an most other people will wait longer.)  With our fast passes we got in to the loading area in about 8 minutes but then the ride broke down and we had to wait about 10-15 min to actually board.  When we got out the stand-by time was showing as 100 min!  This ride would be spectacular if there were somehow two high-speed run laps buy essentially doubling the track length with a second loop.  But I guess you can’t have it all.

After Test Track, I ran over and grabbed Fast Passes for Malestrom.  I knew Malestrom wasn’t that great but there was virtually no wait at Mission Space and Malestrom was a 20 min wait (according to the sign).  Plus we wouldn’t have time to do both if we wanted to leave for a break and dinner.

Mission Space was pretty cool.  The G-forces are somewhat intense but nothing more than what you feel on the spinning cups/tops.  It is a very well done ride, but not really the type of ride, in my opinion that you want to keep riding over and over like Soarin and Test Track.  It is a must do once type of ride.  The only ride I’ve ever seen with vomit bags in it. They have a version (green) that you can ride that has no g forces.  If you can’t handle the g-force spinning, then I wouldn’t bother riding  the green version as it would be pretty lame, almost pointless.  You didn’t get enclosed in tight quarters so if you are claustrophobic, definitely skip this ride.

The time to get the next Fast Pass after Malestrom was pretty short so after Mission Space, we were able to get another Fast Pass for Test Track so we could ride it again that night.  I like the parks and the rides even better at night.

We returned later that night and road Malestrom at about 9 PM and watched the fireworks.  Malestrom, like Living with the Land was a pleasant surprise.  There is a big surprise in it but I won’t give it away.  Definitely worth 15-20 min wait if you don’t have a fast pass if to just do it once time.  Nothing spectacular.  Will remind you of a simplified/cheezier Pirates of the Caribbean.  If you don’t have a Fast Pass, just wait until a half hour before the fireworks to ride when the line is probably minimal.

I would rate the Illuminations fireworks show a tad higher than the Wishes show at Magic Kingdom simply because you are closer to the action and there is a little more special effects. Definitely not to be missed.  We found a good place to watch between Mexico & Norway but had to hold the kids on our shoulders for much of the show as there is quite a bit that happens closer to the water level.  I would suggest trying to get a place on the rail or somewhere that you can stand up and see over the crowd at least 30-40 min early.

There is SO much to do at EPCOT.  I would say it is a minimum 2-day park to be able to see even 50% of everything that is there.

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