Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re stopping by the Disney’s Hollywood Studios to say goodbye to the Backlot Tour. Next, we’ll stop by Epcot for the last day of Off Kilter and some more Food and Wine fun. Lastly, we’ll stop in the Magic Kingdom to ride the Astro Orbiter on the first day it reopens. Who is ready for an awesome week? Let’s go!
Bright and early on September 27, I set out to ride the Backlot Tour. Upon first arriving it looked like any normal day, the crowds didn’t seem to know they were experiencing an attraction on the last day. The queue was short and the area was eerily quiet compared to that madness at Toy Story Mania next door.
I asked to wait for the next showing of the pre-show so I could get the best view to film. The cast members were happy to allow me to wait and I dashed into the next showing to line up my shot. Then something odd happened, they started doing the pre-show without any audience participation. For those unfamiliar, the idea is that this area shows you how Hollywood films effects. They choose people from the line to suit up in rain gear and get soaked in this tank. Then they show what was filmed with effects, just like the movies. Only, they didn’t pick anyone and just started firing off the effects at random. I didn’t film because I thought they were just stalling! It was pretty confusing. If I’m honest, I haven’t been near this attraction in years but I was sure they still had audience participation for the pre-show. If you’re wondering what it used to look like you can find videos here.
I did film my entire ride through on the last day in HD video. However, I didn’t upload it because it’s just a sad 14 minutes. The Backlot Tour is such a shadow of what it once was. I always try to stay positive about everything at Disney, but I’m happy to see this ride close. I hope that bigger and better things will come in it’s place. If anyone would like to see the video please let me know in the comments below and I’ll be sure to upload it. Here’s a taste of what I think was the best part of the ride anymore, the prop house that houses the queue:
Here’s my last view as I was leaving. I wonder if these ride vehicles will find new life as parking trams? I asked a cast member and they said they normally were only running two trams on the tour daily these days. She mentioned that they planned to run three on the last afternoon because they anticipated crowds, but I also saw on Twitter that one had broken down! Even still, the line didn’t look like it ever got very long on the last day.
One ride that never has a short line is Toy Story Mania! As I was walking by on my way back to the front I noticed that toy soldiers were playing with guests in the very long line. Everyone seemed to be having such a good time. It’s nice that Disney makes an effort to keep this long line enjoyable.
Back near the Sorcerer’s Hat I spotted Donald with only a few people in line for him. I thought for sure you guys would like to see him! 🙂 When it was my turn I had a little trouble with my camera and Donald put on a show of how frustrated he was with me. Everyone in line behind me got a big laugh and I got this great photo! Maybe I should have camera trouble more often!
I also spotted some amazing tape art, someone is really talented! I’ve seen photos posted online of other characters but this is the first time I’ve spotted a Frozen character in person. They should offer classes on this! I have no idea where I would use that skill in life but I’d totally pay to learn.
As I was leaving the Studios I popped into the shops looking for anything new to report. The only thing I noticed that I hadn’t seen before are these awesome sunglasses. I’ve seen Minnie Mouse and princess glasses before but I hadn’t seen these. I love the big Goofy ears. At $19.95 they’re a bit pricey but perfect for the Goofy fan in your life.
The storm clouds were starting to loom so I headed to Downtown Disney to check on progress and see a movie. As you can see, the parking garage is starting to look more like an actual parking garage! Could it be possible that this might still make a Christmas opening date? That would be amazing because the parking situation is bleak at best. When I left around 2pm several people were fighting over my parking spot.
Speaking of movies, I stopped by the AMC Dine In Theater. I know this isn’t something exclusive to Disney so I wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested in more information about it? Would you let me know in the comments below if you’d like to see more?
September 27 also marked the last day for several shows around the World Showcase at Epcot. You can read all about them in Seth’s excellent post here. The only one he didn’t cover was Off Kilter so I had planned to stop by on the last day and take some video. I was never really a fan of the band just because they’re so loud. I’d walked by while they were performing and seen small crowds so imagine my surprise when I was faced with the below on their last day!
I was totally shocked. I decided to stick around for the next show assuming the huge crowd would move along, but they didn’t! The mass of people cheered and watched as one at a time guests got on stage to take photos with the band. Apparently, the guys decided to skip their break to take photos with fans. How incredibly nice of them to do that!
After squirming and scooting this was as close as I managed to get with nearly an hour until the next show. With people pressing in at every direction and a gentle rain starting to fall.. I gave up. Getting out of the crowd was almost as difficult as getting into it. There were several managers and Disney security guards managing the crowd. I can’t imagine what the last show was like!
I consoled myself with a potato and leek waffle with braised beef from Belgium for $4.25. I know this looks repulsive. It just proves how amazing this tastes if I can get past the nasty appearance. Last year, I almost chucked this in the trash without even taking a bite. It sounded delicious on the menu but I had to work myself up to actually eating after getting to see it. Once I did I was in love, and the rest is history!
The Odyssey pavilion is once again open for Food and Wine Festival. I love the trend of using this building. I loved this place as a kid and it’s a shame to see it sitting there empty. As you can see it’s being used as a craft beers center and all those comfy seats have been removed since the World Cup. Still, it’s a nice air conditioned space even if seating isn’t available. We didn’t try the snacks offered here but are looking forward to it!
Since I’d missed Off Kilter I wanted to make sure I stopped by to see Christopher Cross. Here is some footage of his show. I also asked about the VIP Illuminations area for the Chase Lounge wristbands. I was told if you are facing the America Gardens Theatre it is directly to the left. We still haven’t tried it, but I’ll report back when we do. This is the time of year we’re at Epcot several times a week! 😀
We made one last stop food at desserts and champagne for the dessert trio: passion fruit coconut creamsicle, blueberry lime cheesecake roll, and chocolate espresso opera cake. This really seemed like a steal at $4! May favorite was the cheesecake but my hubby loved the chocolate cake. The passion fruit dessert gave me the giggles. It was so tart that it tickled my cheeks, but we both loved it and I’m sure we’ll have it again.
One last shopping stop at Mouse Gear before heading out for the night, to visit Chef Duffy. At $30 I think he’s too expensive right now. But I’ll see him when he heads to the outlet in a few months! 😉
Heading over to the Magic Kingdom, I noticed that the awning has finally been installed on the boat dock directly in front of the entrance plaza. The guests boarding these boats must be thrilled to have some shade back!
Looking out at the construction from Tomorrowland there is still a long ways to go with the hub expansion. However, they are really making progress. I can’t wait for this to be complete! As a side note, Disney is doing a great job hiding all this work. If you don’t go looking for it you could easily miss lots of what is going on behind walls.
The reason I’d stopped by the Magic Kingdom was to ride the recently refurbished Astro Orbiter. This is something I always ride by myself so I didn’t think anything of it when the cast member told me to share a rocket with my hubby. Below is a look at the ride vehicle. While signs say these will accommodate 2-3 Earthlings, these two Earthlings found it to be a very tight fit!
Actually, a bit of lap seating was required to make it work. So make sure you know whoever you’re riding with very, very well. Here is your chance to ride on the first day it reopened:
As we exited we noticed that it seemed so much more pleasant and open. It looks like they have moved all the stroller parking over by the Carousel of Progress. Only wheelchairs are at the ride exit now. It isn’t something you’d really notice unless someone pointed it out but it really improves the flow of the area tremendously.
One last catch at the Magic Kingdom was this Zero popcorn bucket from The Nightmare Before Christmas. This is one of my favorite movies and I immediately jumped in line the second I spotted it! Since it was about 5pm in the evening I was concerned it might have just been for guests attending the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, but they were happy to sell me one without an event ticket. If you’d like to find one they are just inside the Magic Kingdom at the popcorn cart near City Hall. Cost is $13.50 with regular popcorn and $15 with caramel corn.
That’s everything for this week. Now let’s see what you can expect if you’re visiting next week.
Crowd Calendar: Crowd levels are going to start to sneak back up especially on the weekends and especially at Epcot. If you’re looking forward to the Food and Wine Festival try to stop by on weekdays for the best experience.
Weather: Could it be?? Could we finally see highs in the low 80’s? And low’s in the low 60’s? It’s too wonderful to be believed.. but I hope it lasts!
Remember: While I link to videos on my YouTube “channel” here, it’s just so I have a place to link my videos. For all the latest and greatest videos be sure to subscribe to the Touring Plans Channel. All the cool kids are doing it!! 😉
Here’s my top tip for this week: Don’t forget, if you are attending the Halloween party your tickets are good starting at 4pm. Make sure you take advantage of those extra 3 hours in the park!
Do you have any news I missed or any requests for coverage next week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading! I’m wishing all of you the Best Week Ever, until next time!