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Saturday, April 15, 2023

Walt Disney World [Day 3] - Epcot & Hollywood Studios

Our second pre-cruise parks day started with another rope drop morning! Our plan had been to catch the bus to Hollywood Studios (which opened at 8:00, so buses started at 7:15), then take the Skyliner to Epcot. This would put us at the International Gateway entrance to Epcot, and in prime position to rope drop Remy's Ratatouille Adventure.

I think we missed the first Hollywood Studios bus, and the real-time monitor kept delaying the arrival of the next Hollywood Studios bus. The Epcot bus came, and Landon suggested that we go ahead and take that bus since it would take us straight to Epcot, and the Skyliner would add additional time to our transportation. Yeah, that seemed logical.

So we hopped on the bus to Epcot and were dropped off at the main entrance. We were allowed to tap in, and they let us walk up to where you would enter for Nemo & Friends... and that's where they held the rope. There was no rope, actually, just a few Cast Members to keep people from going farther. We were very near the front of the rope drop.... but we were a long way from the France Pavilion.


They let us go at 8:30, and people started running. We did not run, but speed-walked with Stove leading the group while walking backwards, per usual. We all split up due to the crowd.

When we got to the pathway from "World Celebration" (that's what they call Future World these days) to World Showcase, we met people running in the opposite direction! What the heck - it was people from International Gateway who were rope-dropping Soarin'! That's when we realized what a physical disadvantage we had (and also, they may have let the people at International Gateway into the park a little earlier than us). Once we regrouped and made it to the queue for Remy's Ratatouille Adventure, there was already a 40 minute posted wait.


The International Gateway entrance gives you a very clear advantage for rope dropping Remy's. If your plan is to rope drop Remy's, I would definitely recommend taking a resort bus to Hollywood Studios and hopping on the Skyliner to Epcot, rather than taking the bus to the Epcot entrance.



Remy's Ratatouille Adventure

Landon was super nervous that we weren't going to be able to all fit in the ride vehicle, but I guess it's actually a lot bigger than it looked to him.

Remy's Ratatouille Adventure

Aaron loved Remy's Ratatouille Adventure! Ratatouille is his favorite Pixar movie. He said this is top-notch and totally worth the hype.


While we were in line, I had time to fiddle around with the My Disney Experience app. I purchased Genie+ again today, but Epcot is not a great park for Genie+. I ended up getting a Test Track reservation for late in the afternoon.

I also bought individual Lightning Lane for Guardian's of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind at 1:00 PM. However, I was only able to book for myself, Aaron, and Landon because I had admitted my parents and Rachel with Guest Passes (which aren't connected to hotel reservations). I went to talk to Guest Relations, and she was able to add them to our Lightning Lane reservation as a special one-time thing. I told her that's perfect because I'm actually here on vacation from California, so I really appreciate it because this is a special trip for us. Shout-out to that Cast Member for helping me out!

We really weren't sure what to do yet because World Showcase wasn't open, and all of the wait times were horrendous. We ended up doing Living with the Land which at the time had a 10 minute posted wait. Later in the day, it would have a 45 minute posted wait!!! That's the longest wait time I've ever seen for Living with the Land!








We then went shopping again at Creations (Judy had picked out something the other night), and Rachel and Landon refilled their popcorn bucket twice.

As soon as World Showcase opened, we hit the Festival of Holidays booths!

From the Las Posadas Holiday Kitchen, the Cochinita Pibil Tamal was very good -


We thought the Giant Tostada de Barbacoa was not worth the outrageous $10.50 price. (The tamal was only $8!)


The Horchata Margarita was really good, too.


We got the Beef and Noodle Soup Bowl from Shanghai Holiday Kitchen. It was $9.25 and a very large portion. This was one of our favorite festival foods that we tried.


This is the Pork Schnitzel from Bavaria Holiday Kitchen. At only $6.50, it was a great value -



Aaron and I wandered into the back of the Morocco Pavilion which is an amazing little lesser-known corner and a great place to escape the crowds and the heat.


Aaron says that Morocco is underrated, and I agree. There's a little store that serves carafes of sangria back here that Rachel and I visited a few times on our recent sister trip.


At 1:00 PM, I tried and failed to get Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind Virtual Queue. Booo!

Oh well, we had a Lightning Lane ready to go!


This was our first time ever on Cosmic Rewind, and I intentionally avoided all ride spoilers so that it would be a complete surprise to me. I'm going to do my best to omit any spoilers for you!


There are three big "holding rooms" with pre-show elements. In my opinion, the story is confusing and unnecessary. The basic plot of oh no, we're in trouble - but Rocket has a plan! is all I really needed to know. (Kind of like Guardians Mission Breakout at California Adventure.)

Oh my gosh, Cosmic Rewind is SO FUN!!! I love this ride! It is definitely my #1 attraction right now. Like Guardians in California, there is fun 80s music, and you never know what song you're going to get. We were surprised with Christmas music!!! All of us were blown away, and no one suffered motion sickness (I had read online that some people who experience motion sickness have trouble with this ride, and Judy and Landon are both prone to motion sickness but didn't have issues).


But speaking of motion sickness.... Aaron and Landon decided that they wanted to experience Mission: Space. Neither had been on the ride before, and both were curious about it because of the media attention it received in 2005-06. Rachel and Judy decided to sit this one out, which Landon knew was his first indication that it would probably mess him up. We opted for the Orange Team because they needed to experience all of the G forces.


Yep, this was their first and last time ever going on Mission: Space. Both Aaron and Landon were very sick afterward. This attraction really isn't that fun or thrilling, it's just something to do that rarely has a wait, so I'd be fine never going on it again, either.


That morning, Rachel suggested that maybe we could go to Magic Kingdom to do some shopping and just walk around. We started making Genie+ reservations for Magic Kingdom. Rachel locked in Space Mountain, and we also got Big Thunder Mountain and the Barnstormer.

After we recovered from Mission: Space, we took the monorail to Magic Kingdom.


When I was planning our trip, I prioritized Animal Kingdom and Epcot because those were the two parks that Aaron was the most interested in, and it was Aaron's first time back to Walt Disney World in over twenty years. We visit Disneyland regularly, so Magic Kingdom was the lowest priority since it's the most similar to Disneyland.


When we got to Magic Kingdom, Aaron tapped into the park easy peasy. Then I tapped, and the tap point turned blue. Huh? The Cast Member asked if I was a Cast Member, and I told him yes, and he reminded that we were blocked out today. It was Friday! I totally forgot about the Magic Kingdom block outs that weekend (Disneyland currently doesn't have block outs - if you have a reservation, you can go to either park).

I figured that I might as well go to Guest Relations and explain my story. I was greeted by a super nice Cast Member. I knew that he probably couldn't get me into Magic Kingdom since we were blocked out, but I calmly explained how I was visiting with my family from California, so I'm just not at all familiar with Walt Disney World reservations and didn't realize that I was blocked out of MK that day. I told him that the real bummer was that I had three Lightning Lanes for Magic Kingdom attractions (which I was allowed to make on the app! Guess there hasn't been a reason to create some sort of blocker to stop you from making LL reservations for a park you can't get into) and asked him if there was any way he could make some magic for me. He told me that he could make me three Lightning Lane reservations for any other park, and since we had just spent the morning at Epcot, I thought it made the most sense to go back to Hollywood Studios. He was able to make LLs for Rockin' Rollercoaster, Star Tours, and Toy Story Mania - use anytime.

So this was the most we saw of Magic Kingdom -


I thanked that amazing Cast Member for saving the rest of our day, and we took a bus to Hollywood Studios.



I was excited that we were able to get a Lightning Lane for Rock 'n' Rollercoaster because that was another ride that Aaron had never been on, and it was my absolute favorite rollercoaster as a kid.


I think the attraction went down because both Standby and Lightning Lane were backed up. When it gets backed up like that, they have to prioritize the Lightning Lane to get back on track, so it really stinks if you're in the standby queue when this happens.


I asked Aaron what he thought about Rock 'n' Rollercoaster, and he said that since we live in Los Angeles, he didn't really dig the LA theming. I would agree that it's a different experience now that I live in LA than it was when I was a little kid and it seemed so exciting and glamorous.


Time for another shot at Toy Story Mania! 199,300!!! I think that's the closest I've gotten recently to breaking 200,000 points.


It was getting late, so we decided to skip our Star Tours Lightning Lane. We still had a Lightning Lane reservation for Test Track at 9 PM.... Aaron had never been on Test Track before. We could take the Skyliner to Epcot and go straight to Test Track, then leave out the main exit hopefully during Harmonious to avoid crowds. Then Aaron suggested that we just take the bus back to the hotel and go to the hot tub. We were sold.


Landon ordered chicken from Hooters on UberEats. He had actually ordered Hooters the night before, but the driver couldn't figure out how to get to the resort because the app had routed her to enter through the Disney Bus entrance. So she eventually gave up and returned his order to Hooters.

Tonight, the driver was directed to Gran Destino Tower, but he didn't realize that he needed to be there to pick it up. I guess he searched, "how to get food delivered to your Disney hotel," and he saw the grocery deliver process of being able to pick up from the luggage service. Apparently that doesn't apply to hot food. However, the UberEats driver was amazing and had left his car and was waiting in the lobby for him for 20 minutes - which meant Landon got to eat Hooters tonight!

We were walking back to our rooms when we noticed that outdoor dining at El Centro and figured that would be a nicer and easier place to eat.


Gran Destino Tower


After dinner, I made the grave error of not packing up all of the clothes that we had hanging around the room to air dry after we did laundry, and instead showered then went straight to bed.

Our Genie+ Lightning Lane Roundup for the day (purchased at $20/person):
  1. Space Mountain Rock 'n' Rollercoaster
  2. The Barnstormer Toy Story Mania
  3. Big Thunder Mountain Star Tours (didn't ride)
  4. Test Track (didn't ride)
So.... $10/ride. Not as good as the day before. I really think you're at a disadvantage using Genie+ if your first park is Epcot because it opens the latest. Someone who goes to Animal Kingdom first has an additional critical hour to start making and using Genie+ LL reservations. We also lost a lot of time making Genie+ reservations for Magic Kingdom (which we couldn't use since I was blocked out). We did get the three use anytime passes to make up for that, but we also lost time going to Magic Kingdom.

We also paid $17/person for Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind, and I thought that was well worth it.

For comparison, these are the attractions we rode Standby:
  1. Remy's Ratatouille Adventure (Posted Wait: 40 minutes / Actual Wait: 40 minutes)
  2. Living with the Land (Posted Wait: 15 minutes / Actual Wait: 10 minutes)
  3. Mission: Space (Posted Wait: 20 minutes / Actual Wait: 20 minutes)

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