DAY FOUR: Disney-Hollywood Studios, Star Wars Weekend, and Epcot
All four of us met in the lobby of the hotel at 8 am to head to the Studios. We got through security and stood in the sun while the Stormtroopers did their shtick up above. Once through the turnstiles, I took everyone’s tickets and got in place behind the rope for Toy Story Mania. The rest of the crew headed to Tower of Terror and waited for me to arrive with the fastpasses.
I cannot wait until the other side of the street at Pixar Place is opened up because the bottleneck here was unbelievable. I, of course, got in the FastPass line with the broken machine and had to wait twice as long. It actually took me 10 minutes to get 4 fastpasses and the return window increased by 15 minutes while I was in line. To say this attraction is a hit is an understatement.
I briskly walked over to ToT and found them waiting patiently for me outside the standby entrance. The wait time said 10 minutes but we were able to walk in to the library without much of a wait at all. We walked right over to RnRC and only waited for about 5 minutes here in spite of the posted 20 minute wait time. The couple in front of us told the ride attendant that they had 5 people in their party . . . he thought we were with them and was very confused by the whole situation. I have no idea if it was a language issue or if they had 3 others waiting in the gift shop but it was weird.
We then went to Starring Rolls Café for breakfast again and I really like the chocolate croissant. I’m trying to do a better job of drinking water on this trip, especially with the hot sun and heat beating down on us all day. After we ate, we walked through One Man’s Dream while we waited for our 10:45AM – 11:45AM FastPass window. I watched the short film about Walt and think that everyone should see this movie. It was touching and made me so grateful for the contributions Walt has made to our culture. I hope he is never forgotten.
I met Connie, Nicole, and Jeff and we went into Toy Story Mania. Jeff got the highest score, followed by me, Connie, and Nicole. I narrowly beat Connie again, which is my goal. The bonus round is where I excel. Connie thinks the ringtoss is hard and I agree but I think the balloons and darts are as challenging. Jeff and Nicole seemed to enjoy it.
It was now 11 and we decided it was important to line up for the Star Wars parade. I stayed back in the shade on a bench under the Sorcerer’s Hat for awhile because the sun was so bright and I didn’t want to sit on the hot pavement. I was able to walk up about 10 minutes before the parade started and got a great view from the front row with the rest of the group. We booked it immediately after the parade to Wicket’s Warehouse, where I bought a really nice laptop bag. We all four got our picture taken together – and I make a mean Mace Windu. That photo will be uploaded as soon as I get a digital copy from Nicole.
Nicole wanted to do the Backlot Tour so we rode through and had the WORST tour guide in the history of tour guides. He was annoying, thought he was funny, was a terrible actor during Catastrophe Canyon, and started making stuff up at one point. When he said that Epcot was Walt’s “one and only dream” I nearly had an aneurism. I think I know what he meant but the way he said it was factually incorrect. He was hard to listen to and made the tour – which is already sad to ride at this point – even less enjoyable. So . . . thanks, Christopher, for ruining this ride even more!
We grabbed lunch at the Studio Catering Company. The BBQ Pulled Pork was OK, but could have used more sauce. The apple slices were delicious on a hot summer day, though. We rode the Great Movie Ride and I asked if we could wait for the cowboy scene. The attraction host obliged the request and we got to ride in the very front row of the front car. Samantha, our ride operator, was friendly and pretty good. She was friendly during the parts when she had no spiel.
After this we watched Muppet 3-D and I could hear Nicole laughing throughout. She hadn’t been here in awhile and I’m so glad she was having fun. The Muppets are funny; I wish they would do more with them.
Next we got in line for the 3 o’clock Behind the Force show, which was hosted by Warwick Davis. It was interesting to learn about the new Clone Wars movie coming out and I’m glad I watched all the new trilogy Star Wars movies before we came down so I had an idea of what was going on.
At this point, we decided that we had seen everything we needed to at DHS and proceeded to Epcot. We discussed the best way to get there and eve
n though walking and the boat were an option, we didn’t want to have to come back for the car so we drove over.
We immediately headed to Soarin’ and were surprised to discover FastPasses available for 6:45. It was just now 4:45 so we were pleased with that. I would have waited the posted 50 minutes but the rest of them weren’t as excited. I’m glad they weren’t because we were able to do so many things in the meantime.
First, we got ice cream at the Fountain View Café. The sundaes here are huge! I finished my Coke Float and walked towards the restroom to discover that Epcot “museum” I’d been looking for during the last two trips. I was very excited because I knew Nicole would be very happy to see it; she’s a vintage Epcot aficionado and especially misses Horizons. In fact, as discussed previously in this report, her prized find at MouseSuprlus was a “Baby Change” sign that we all decided must have come from Epcot due to the font and style.
We then went to Club Cool and sampled the beverages. I wasn’t able to trick anyone into trying the Beverly (those Ph.D.s are deserved, I guess) and then we walked back up and rode Spaceship Earth (after a lengthy perusal of the Pin Station). We all laughed so hard at the cartoon at the end. I am glad this attraction got some attention.
It was almost time for the FastPasses but we still had a few minutes to kill so I suggested The Seas because I really like the Nemo ride. There’s seldom a wait, it moves quickly, and the digital projection at the end is technologically impressive. I watched the manatees eat for awhile and it seemed there was an inordinate amount of divers in the tank. I also made a mental note of how chilly it was in the upstairs observation area and will return here for a break from the heat in the future.
We headed to the Land, rode Living with the Land, which I find relaxing and interesting. I miss eating at revolving restaurant upstairs. I think we only ate there twice as a kid but I had very fond memories of it and wish it hadn’t become “family style” and character dining experiences.
We finally rode Soarin’. Connie asked the ride attendant if we could ride in row one and she accommodated us, however it was a bit frustrating for her, I think. But she was pleasant about it. After this, we decided to head to the ESPN Club at the Boardwalk. We were going to walk, but I pointed out that it was already 7:30 and by the time we got there and back, the park would be closed and we wouldn’t be able to get to the car very easily. So, we drove.
Now, I’m the first person to point out the great things and people we encounter on our trips so I feel justified in telling you that Tim at the ESPN Club and more importantly, his manager, Karla, need some extra coaching. Tim was pleasant, however it took him wayyy too long to serve us. We were seated in the bar section of the restaurant and I do realize that you don’t get the same level of service here that you would in the dining room. However, the table next to us had a different server and I saw him 45 times. We literally saw Tim about 4 or 5 times the entire meal. He also messed up our checks, even though we went over this with him several times before he rang us up. Again, none of this was a big deal but we did agree that management might be running Tim a little ragged so perhaps we should talk with them.
Connie sought the manager out and Karla admitted that, yes, Tim had tables in both the bar and dining room and that “he gets flustered when it gets this busy.” Not “I’m sorry for your wait,” or “Gosh, I’ll talk with him about this,” but just an acknowledgement that, “Yep, he sucks.” And that was it. Again, I don’t blame Tim nearly as much as I blame Karla and for her not to even appear sorry about the experience is unacceptable and Disney will be getting an email from us about it.
We were all beat so we headed back to the hotel for another day of touring tomorrow!
TOMORROW: Animal Kingdom!