Florida 03/22 – Animal Kingdom + Epcot
It felt so great to be back in the car again today. Two days of public transportation had made us miss the comfort and convenience that only comes with having your own 4 wheels.
This made it easier to part with $30 for Disney parking, as did the fact that you can park hop with the same ticket all day. I mean $30 isn’t all that bad for all day parking (8am-midnight) on Disney property, I’ve seen more offensive parking prices for much less return.
What you do have to contend with though, if you bring the car, is the massive walks from the parking lots to the park entrances. It was a long and hot walk at Animal Kingdom, but it would be far worse later.
Soon though we arrived at the entrance, and it was far more impressive than the one at Hollywood Studios.
Also more impressive than Hollywood Studios was the park’s centre point, the beautiful Tree of Life. Both these photos also show how green and pretty the park is, for the most part at least.
It’s Tough to be a Bug
Speaking of the Tree of Life, that’s where we headed first to check out It’s Tough to be a Bug.
This 4D cinema, inspired by A Bug’s Life, was great fun, but I think I prefer it the least out of all the 4D cinemas at the resort, Disney World has a strong 4D cinema game.
It was really funny watching half the audience launch out of fire exits after Hopper showed up and things got intense though.
Then it was my turn to get scared on the amazing Dinosaur.
I love everything about this ride.
The entrance building full of bones, the wonderful cheesy information videos, the intense loading area that got me even more nervous than I already was. I really am a big baby when it comes to getting jump scared in the dark.
Then the main ride itself, damn! Dinosaur sits right on the limit of being too much for me but never crossed that line. I had such a great time aggressively bouncing around, shouting “that’s not our dino!” and laughing until it hurt.
Best ride at the park (Everest was closed) and probably one of the best at the Resort (Everest was closed).
Kali River Rapids
Because ‘(Everest was closed)’ we walked past it with a tear in our eye and headed to Kali River Rapids.
While visually very impressive, Kali was neither all that wet (it was hot) or all that impressive as an actual rapids ride.
After Kali we took a long walk, almost back to the park entrance, to visit Pandora – The World of Avatar.
I know even less about Avatar than I did about Star Wars, but once again first impressions are very strong, how does this even work?!
Avatar Flight of Passage
We ended up at Flight of Passage first and not wanting to get lost in Pandora, it’s a bit of a maze, it was time to check out the land’s star attraction.
Well not before queueing over 2 hours for it…
At least there’s lots of interesting things to look at, while you’re outside at least.
The ride itself though, it was pretty cool, but certainly, in my opinion, not worth queueing over 40 minutes for. Flight of Passage is essentially a very high tech and fancy flying theatre attraction and no matter how much tech you throw at it or what film is being shown that style of attraction will never really do much for me.
It’s a must ride for sure, but easily a one and done attraction and one that would be best to catch when the queues are low, if they ever are.
Na’vi River Journey
Then it was time to check out Pandora’s other ride offering, Na’vi River Journey.
After a much shorter queue, around 45 minutes, we took our seats on this boat ride around a Na’vi rainforest.
It was alright, I think Heartline summed it up perfectly with the statement “a sit down and some blue”, because it was a nice way to rest our legs, and the Na’vi are blue.
Nothing really happens, it’s very short, there’s not all that much to look at and there’s only 1 animatronic, she’s very impressive though. Once again a one and done, probably not worth queueing more than half an hour for.
With that, with Everest being closed and us not being all the interested in doing the animal stuff, our time at Animal Kingdom had come to an end. Opinions?
A half day park indeed, a beautiful one though, with an insane dark ride I wish we could have ridden again.
Thanks to being ahead of schedule, we treated ourselves with a quick trip to Disney Springs to grab an Earl of Sandwich. I remember really enjoying the one I had at Disneyland Paris, and this one was even better, certainly worth the speed run of Disney Springs.
It turned out we really needed those calories too, because the walk from the Epcot parking lot to the park entrance was insane. A solid 10 minutes of brisk walking on unshaded concrete, not the greatest of starts.
Admittedly all was immediately forgiven once we entered the park though, because damn, Epcot visually might just be my favourite out of any Disney park.
Spaceship Earth’s gigantic geodesic sphere surrounded by all the other funky retro futuristic buildings in the distance is just an incredible first impression and I’m happy to say this level of visual quality continues throughout the park.
Speaking of Spaceship Earth, we are here, let’s ride it.
I loved it. I couldn’t shut off the part of my brain that was saying, “you’re riding Disney history in a massive sphere, holy crap.”
Then when I thought it was over, I was shown a picture of my sweaty face superimposed onto a crude vision of the future and that’s exactly how this ride got escalated from fantastic to iconic.
Mission: SPACE (Intense/Orange)
Then it was time to experience one of the most physically intense attractions Disney have ever built, and it was awesome.
I’d watched many Disney YouTubers say that they can’t ride Mission: SPACE any more because it makes them unwell. I just dismissed them as being weak, but now I can see how if you weren’t used to high G forces this might end you.
Mission: SPACE is a 4 person interactive motion simulator attraction, but not your standard boring motion simulator. No, this one puts you in a centrifuge, puts screens an inch from your face and places controls inches from your chest, so it really feels like you’re in a cramped space craft.
Then it applies sustained strong positive Gs (up to 2.5) during key parts of the experience. These moments sync up perfectly with the screens to create an incredibly realistic and intense ride.
I loved it and if we had enough time I would have certainly ridden it again.
Journey Into Imagination With Figment
Next up we journeyed into imagination with Figment.
I’m quite torn on my opinion of this ride.
On one hand it’s (for better or worse) an iconic part of Disney and Epcot. But on the other hand in its current state the ride is pretty unpleasant. I’m not able to prioritise one over the other so in short it’s alright.
Living with the Land
You’d think that sitting down in a boat for 15 minutes to go float around some greenhouses would be a waste of time, but you’d be wrong.
Firstly, Living with the Land feels very Epcot, with its emphases on innovation in the farming industry. Secondly, the dark ride sections are fun. Lastly, a 15 minute sit down after standing all day is amazing.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends
I would however let you say that The Seas with Nemo & Friends is a waste of time.
The only thing I can remember about this omnimover attraction is that it wasn’t good.
Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros
Keeping the trend of disappointment going, we headed to Mexico to ride Gran Fiesta Tour.
After having to power through an overcrowded building to find the entrance, and after queueing in an extremly cramped queueline, we finally took our seats on what can best be described as Mexican Small World, but it’s worse, and Donald Duck’s there. I can’t recommend it.
Frozen Ever After
Next we headed over to Norway to go see Elsa, but her ride was currently experiencing a delay in operations and the castle gates were closed.
We spoke to a cast member outside who was both friendly and helpful. She told us that they were working hard to get the ride open again shortly and in her opinion it wouldn’t be that long of a wait. A very refreshing answer in an era of every single park not wanting to give out any helpful responses in case they are wrong and they get fired or something.
This delay gave us a reason to stroll around the Norway section of the World Showcase, which I thought looked great.
Not that long later the queue reopened and we were 3 of the first people to head through the gates.
While there certainly are issues with the ride – I don’t really like the face projected animatronics, you can tell it was held back by having to reuse the layout of Maelstrom and there’s no clear progressive story to the ride, I still loved it anyway.
I’m a huge fan of Frozen, its songs and its characters, so to see the franchise with its own ride, even if it’s a bit flawed, made me happy.
We had fully accepted that we both didn’t need to ride Test Track, nor would we have time to ride it. Thanks to the queue being exactly the right amount of time that we needed to kill before the night-time though, we figured what the hell.
This ended up being the best decision ever because Test Track is awesome.
The create your car bit, which I didn’t even know was thing, was tears of laughter levels of funny.
Then the main ride itself was far more intense than I was expecting, with the indoor section being far longer than I was expecting. All the while our created car kept popping up on screens to make everything even funnier.
Test Track kicks ass and was the perfect way to end our day at Epcot.
We ended up missing a little of the night-time show, but it wasn’t all that great anyway so it was nothing to get upset about.
I really enjoyed my visit to Epcot and unlike Animal Kingdom I really could see myself spending a whole day there.
Thanks for reading, click here for day 5 of my Florida trip report, where we visit Busch Gardens Tampa and ride the incredible Iron Gwazi.