After the conflicted end to the first day of the trip I was determined to just make a go of it today. I knew if I let the rot set in that would be it and in a couple more days I’d be really just wanting to go home. The weather was cloudy, warm but it wasn’t raining, so this at least allowed me to get out to a good psychological start and off I went to hit Epcot.
The New, The Digital, The Awesome Test Track
Test Track was a surprise, such a surprise it’s gone from a ride you go on out of habit, because it’s not too bad and it’s one of the few big attractions in Epcot, to being a must ride attraction. It’s just ace. They’ve obviously refurbished the inside and updated the scenario of the attraction. It’s now all hi-tech, modern and near future.
In the first version, which is the one I’ve rode before, it was all based on being a physical car test, the theory being you are the crash test dummies in the physical car doing physical things. Not any more. The whole ride is based on the near future premise that the cars virtual model is being tested in a virtual test environment. It’s all digital screens, Tron-style lighting and some great visual effects. It’s much better and significantly improved.
The ride even uses the magic bands allowing you to design a car in the queue system which tags itself to your magic band and then it is the car being tested for your and it even ranks your design against the other occupants of the car your riding in to see which design is doing best at the specific tests. Very clever.
It’s that good I went on it four times. I’ll undoubtedly being riding it again at some point. It’s turned into one of my favourite attractions.
Soarin’ Is Just Beautiful
Soarin’ has also changed as the flight is now across numerous locations around the world rather than the state of Califorinia. In truth, the California focus of Soarin’ never really made that much sense outside of the California Adventure park the debuted the original version of the ride. This more global approach feels bigger in scale and just more suitable to Disney World.
Soarin’ is essentially a thing of beauty, and this covers the whole experience. The whole conceit that the ride is a flight really works. The attraction manages to be both a spin on futuristic flight while also harking back to the glory days of flight. The scale of the attraction is immense, as while the entrance is an unassuming section off to the side of Sunshine Seasons and The Garden Grill it’s massive. The queuing system is great if you can get to amble through it, rather than queue through it with lots of standing still, just for the scale of it.
The ride itself is almost an emotional experience unless you are a hard hearted bastard. It’s wondrous, especially the sections that kick in with the smells. The flight over the African savannah has you watching and closing your eyes as the smell of the grass kicks in and just soaking it all up. I’ve been on it three times and it hasn’t grown old yet. Yeah you can play spot the transition from country to country, which some might say breaks the immersion, but I can fully accept the conceit. It’s just very impressive with the 4K presentation on that wrap around OMNIMAX laser projection screen just being a wonder to behold.
Mission: Space, Feel The G’s
I like Mission: Space because, if you think about it, it’s a very bold attraction. It is in no way a typical ride. The design of the space rocket you go into is very claustrophobic. It is really small. There must have been meetings above how brave that was and how realistic did it need to be as anyone who is claustrophic shouldn’t ride the attraction.
When I went on it there was a guy with his two young sons who has on his six go in a row! I like the ride, it doesn’t make me sick, but you do experience the g’s of ‘being spun’. This would be hard to take six times in a row I’m pretty sure. It would give me a headache.
It’s a gread ride though, but I can see why the version exists than doesn’t spin and instead just does the whole simulation of the using the controls and hitting the buttons at the right time.
Star Wars, More Star Wars
I did have a break by the pool, which works really great. Then I decided to pop on over to Hollywood Studios for a bit of a scout around, bringing it forward a bit early. I primarily hit the Star Wars Launch Bay.
Hollywood Studios is going to become destination Star Wars, but it isn’t there yet. It’s a park very much in transition and the adding of the Star Wars elements is a big part of that. It’s likely Star Wars Land won’t be appearing to at least 2019 so what we do have is a splattering of Star Wars to try and fill a rather empty park.
They’ve put the launch bay in which acts as the location for a short film, character greetings and a props and model display akin to the ones that have existed at Las Vegas for Star Trek and Marvel (though in this case the items were fake artefacts from the Marvel Universe) in the run up to Islands of Adventure.
It’s an interesting attraction, but it is very much a filler. The displays are brilliant and well worth a walk through. Even the film is worth watching for an injection of Star Wars nostalgia and legacy. The store is also really cool, but full of the more expensive memorabilia. You can get into the display area through the store so you don’t have to watch the film every time.
The Delux Resort Hub
One of the planned differences I wanted to introduce to the holiday was doing some of the walks between resorts and hotels so it was great that I got to do one today: the route between Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. What I discovered on this route is there is a second resort hub with conveniently located parks.
I was only aware of the Mono Rail hub before with the Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian all being on the same loop as the Magic Kingdom. The second hub is the Swan and Dolphin, the Boardwalk and the Yacht Club and Beach Club which are close together and situated in walking distance of Hollywood Studios and EPCOT. It’s beautiful and, if I was in the market for a deluxe resort I’d be by far in favour of these resorts and this hub than the Magic Kingdom one.
Is All Star Movies Empty?
I got the All Star Movies bus back after Fantasmic today, because there was only a handful of people in the queue and as a result the bus was pretty empty. The All Star Sports bus was at least a ‘get the third bus’ length of queue. Basically, the All Star Movies resort seems to be empty. I took the advice of someone in the queue who said you can walk through the resorts and it’s quicker.
It was, it’s also quite pleasant. I can see this happening a number of times. I’d rather be ambling through All Star resorts to get back to Sports than stood in the queue at the park waiting for a bus.
Till Next Time…
Today was critical. It had to work out. If I’d ended the first full day still putting the holiday’s success at 50% I think the chances pf psychologically recovering either due to realities or just my feeling towards the whole thing would have put the whole experience at risk.
The day just felt better from the outset.