Trip Report | EPCOT, Via Napoli Review & Hollywood Studios


It was another early morning for us, even after spending the night at Disney Springs, so we grabbed our breakfast snacks and hopped in the car ready for park opening at Epcot. We strolled straight in from the 'Amaze' parking lot (just behind the cast member parking!) through the deserted park and headed for Test Track which was already open. I took the first go at designing a car (if you can call it that...) and then we were ready to board. They did a great job when they refurbished Test Track a few years ago and although some of the 'tests' are a little samey it's always fun to see who had the best design in the vehicle. Once we'd been blasted with fresh air at 104kmh we got back in line for Harry to have his turn but unfortunately his car just wasn't as good as mine! 

Next we decided to walk around to the Character Spot on our way to The Land to meet the Inside Out characters before the line got too long. Our logic was that we didn't mind waiting a bit longer for Soarin' but we didn't want to wait ages for a character meet. Well unluckily for us the wait was a lot longer than posted we were in line for about 40 minutes before our turn! We persevered because I was so excited and determined to meet Sadness and it turned out to be well worth the wait. Everyone laughed as I ran straight passed Joy to meet my fave, and when I explained how much I related to her character she gave me lots of cuddles and didn't let go of my hand. Not one to hold a grudge at not being the favourite, Joy spent her time having dance with Harry before we had a hug too and took some photos. The meet was exactly what I hoped it would be, the characters were so much fun and so interactive and their location makes for some great photos too.

We decided to skip meeting Baymax until later as his line had gotten quite long while we'd been in line so instead we dashed over to Soarin'. It's the first time we'd visited since it had reopened with the new interactive quiz in the queue but we didn't have to wait for long before getting in line to board and we were pleased to see our pal Patrick was still reading out the safety instructions! Soarin' Around the World was a lovely serene experience, we particularly liked the new transitions from place to place, a bit improvement on the previous cuts, but did miss the classic orange trees and golf ball! While in The Land pavilion we also rode Living with the Land and while I'm not so much of a fan of the 'dark ride' part I find the agriculture quite interesting, especially when they add signs to show you which plants are used in the Food & Wine Festival. 

World Showcase Part 1

It was then time to take a break from the rides and start our wander around the World Showcase to get to Italy in time for lunch. We walked through Canada, the UK and France before stopping in Japan to browse the Mitsukoshi department store. As the showcase hadn't long been open it was the perfect time to have a good look around as the shop wasn't busy at all. There's so much to look at from anime to Pokemon, to clothing, food and sweets. With lunchtime approaching we went to check in at Via Napoli which was already full of people even though the World Showcase had been really quiet so far.

Via Napoli

Once we'd been seated we were approached by our server and his trainee who was 'earning her ears' by fetching jugs of water for the guests. I accidentally turned down the water when I was put on the spot (#myawkwardlife) and then I also missed out on ordering an Aqua Fresca in favour of my usual soda! When it came to ordering though I didn't make a mistake and went straight for the pepperoni pizza while Harry was more adventurous and ordered one with a white sauce, proscuto, melon and arugula. I love thin and crispy Italian pizza but I felt mine was little overcooked which made it taste bitter in places. Harry preferred his but I wasn't so keen as it didn't have a lot flavour. For dessert I ordered tiramisu and Harry chose the pistachio gelato. While I'm not sure I've ever had an authentic tiramisu, this had the right blend of sponge, cream, coffee and alcohol for my liking, although the portion size was huge! The ice cream was lovely and creamy. I've had pistachio ice cream a couple of times since, but they've always been disappointing! (Total: $66.67 + tax & tip)

World Showcase Part 2

Now full from lunch we continued our wander around the World Showcase on the way to our Fastpass+ for Frozen Ever After. We had a quick look in Karamel Kuche in Germany but although everything smelt amazing we were too full of pizza to choose any caramel treats to buy. As we still had some time before Frozen we kept walking past Norway to Mexico where we rode the Grand Fiesta Tour which is a bit like It's a Small World except you travel around Mexico trying to catch Donald in time for his Three Caballeros performance! As we left the duck himself was outside for a meet and greet so of course we had to say hi and I asked him if he'd been playing his maracas (hence the photo of us 'shaking' them!).

Finally we were able to get in line for Frozen, and yes there was still a wait even in the Fastpass line! The boat ride was really cute and magical because of icy settings and the songs and it definitely has the best looking audio-animatronics of the characters of any Disney ride we've seen. I'm not sure I'd enjoy it quite so much if I had to wait over an hour for it though! Having made our way around the whole of the World Showcase we really needed to cool off with some drinks and there is no better place to do that than the coca-cola sponsored Club Cool. We both gulped down the Beverly, much to our displeasure (mostly mine!) but made up for it with extra cups of my favourites, Bibo and pineapple Fanta, and Harry's favourites the Guarana and Sparletta. As we were in the area we also walked right on to Journey into the Imagination with Figment and on the way out we played with some of the interactive activities in the Imageworks and even took some photos in the photo-booth.

We decided to do The Seas with Nemo and Friends another day but on our way out of Epcot we had a peek into the character spot to see what the line for Baymax was like and to our surprise it was much shorter than earlier! We soon discovered that the line moved quickly because the meets were quite quick as Baymax has very limited movement (he's huge!) but of course he's happy to give him a fist bump and get a photo.

We had one last Fastpass+ to round out our day at Epcot which we'd actually had to modify earlier due to being in line to meet Joy and Sadness to long. Yes we couldn't possibly leave without riding Spaceship Earth, and we were grateful that we'd moved our Fastpass because it seemed to be quite popular with the afternoon crowds who were just arriving. After seeing the animatronics of the past narrated by Dame Judy and planning our future (which seemed pretty plausible!) it was time to go back to the hotel for an afternoon break. We were going to return to Epcot for the Illuminations but we wanted to see the Galactic Spectacular at Hollywood Studios as it was the only night we could see it that worked with our plans (that turned out not to be true as they continued into the second weeks of our holiday despite the schedule stating they wouldn't). 

Hollywood Studios

We'd planned to take a drive through Celebration to see the Halloween decorations (which we did but it was a little bit too Stepford wives perfect for Harry's liking) and visit Old Town but as both of us decided we weren't too bothered we went for an early evening at Hollywood Studios instead. After getting a bit lost because the construction works had blocked off some of the paths we were used to we made it over to Star Tours for a quick trip around space and then went next door to Backlot Express for some dinner. The restaurant was deserted and we must've been served some of the last burgers of the day which were very dry. Harry's Royal Guard burger looked awful, and my Bacon-Cheeseburger wasn't any better. We both ordered the Darth Vader chocolate cupcake with peanut butter filling for dessert and they tasted good, light cake with rich on the chocolate icing, but there was no way we could finish them! ($44.55 inc. drinks)

From there it was time to take each other on at Toy Story Midway Mania using a late Fastpass+ we'd managed to score while we were in Epcot. I'm really bad at these carnival games so it's no surprise that Harry beat me but he also got best in vehicle so he was happy. As it was now getting dark we went to scout out a spot in front of the Chinese Theatre and only had to wait about half an hour for the show. We both thought it was really good, although Harry enjoyed it more than I did. The projections are very well done and it helps to tell the different story elements of the Star Wars films but for me it was lacking in the firework department. It didn't take us long to leave the park after the show, although I was a little bit disappointed the shops weren't open longer, and as we'd nabbed a closer parking spot by coming in later we could walk out and not wait for the tram. A little bit more of an early night for us as in the morning we were hoping to rope-drop Magic Kingdom!

Steps: 23,369
DDP Credits Used - 2 QS (23 Remaining) 2 TS (22 Remaining)
Total Cost (if not on DDP) - $111.22 + tax



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