So, our day started a bit late. I like sleep, but that’s one of the issues with a Disney vacation – you don’t get much of it if you’re going to do everything. This required multiple cups of coffee.
Assorted wardrobes from the next three days, in no particular order:
- “I grew this beard while waiting on line at Disney”. I’ve seen this shirt a few times before, but this guy had a beard like a Civil War general.
- “Awww, another bottle of wine with no genie at the bottom. Guess I’ll have to keep looking!”
- A stroller with a sign “This is not the stroller you’re looking for”.
- Another stroller – a McLaren stroller.
First stop, World Showcase. Lizzy had some snack foods she wanted to try, and she also got a mimosa flight.
Once we did that, we headed to Spaceship Earth, aka The Golf Ball. I am generally a fan of that ride, but this particular run-through had three multi-minute stops during the ride, which totally broke the immersion. The overhead announcements were what did it in, but even so, it’s always nice to ride the golf ball. The other amusing thing was the “vision of the future” thing they put on the screens…which is funny because most of it has already come to pass…essentially it said that in the future we’d have Zoom calls and work-from-home options and smarter cities….well, all of those things are technically in place now, but it reminds me of the problem with most forms of prediction – it fails to account for the human element. Very few people would describe Zoom calls as ‘enjoyable’; most would cap out as “effective necessary evil”. Lots of the future predictions you’ll see in Disney (and on Youtube for that matter) seem to reflect this.
Next up was Club Cool, a small area where Coca-Cola has a relatively unique attraction: an array of soda fountains which feature internationally popular Coke products. Some were better than others (Russian Sprite has this cucumber flavor mixed in that I’d happily buy tomorrow), but apparently, getting newcomers to try the bitter “Beverly” flavor is a running gag, and yes, I was the newcomer, to the amusement of pretty much everyone else there. We stayed for several minutes, enjoying samples of the different varieties in the provided paper shot glasses. I’m surprised that only the standard American products were available to buy (Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Dasani, etc.), but the sampled products were not. I definitely would have bought a bottle or two if it were practical to do so.
Next up on our ride list was “Soarin'”. Really, this one was simple and solid. A large, concave screen provided scenic views, during which seats moved in sync, along with a few scents for different scenes. No need for excessive motion or sudden movement, its elegance is in its simplicity. If ASMR was a Disney ride, this would be it. Definitely a fan.
It was snack time, so we got a Mickey pretzel, my first this trip.
Next stop, Living with the Land, where Disney showcases developments in farming and other forms of environmental utilization. As it’s intended to be a more educational ride, there’s not much in the way of lighting effects or anything else that moves the focus away from where it’s supposed to be.
Right next door, the Finding Nemo ride! This one reminded me of the Pandora boat right, in that it was primarily a beautiful spectacle. The clam-shaped tram cars were adorable, though. The real fun was in the aquarium area after the ride. There were manatees and sharks and dolphins and lots of other things I couldn’t pet. But, one particularly interesting thing they had was a fish tank which included all of the different fish present in the dentist’s office tank in Finding Nemo. The area had games and other interactive things for young kids; it was adorable to watch them play for a bit.
Mission Space! Why did I have no idea that this ride existed? This is exactly the sort of ride that I’d love to go on with my dad – it’s a space sim with interactive controls and a great setup…and lots of G-force usage that makes launches and space travel feel about as realistic as it’s going to get in a theme park ride…but that’s also why I’ll probably never do it with my dad – I 100% guarantee that he’d make use of the space sickness bags that are included in the ride’s cabin. A well done ride for sure; I was glad I did it.
Chevrolet CEO: “We should make a theme park ride!”
Chevrolet engineer: “It should be fun, right? Aren’t our cars already fun to drive?”
CEO: “Nonsense! I mean, if it happens to be fun, great…but if there’s a square inch that doesn’t have a Chevy logo, you’re fired!”
Welcome to Test Track. It’s the ride I’m probably the most torn about thus far. On the one hand, it is probably only second to Rise of the Resistance in how well it integrates the different stages of the attraction. In the queue, there are a few interactive touch panels that help familiarize riders with things they will need in the next part – the design center. One starts with a base model Chevy car, then customizations are made. You can min/max for power, fuel efficiency, aerodynamics, vehicle size, and of course, colors, decals, and spoilers. This design is then tied to your magicband. When you finally enter the ride, there are different sections that “test” your vehicle against other riders, and at the end of each section, your vehicle is ranked. At the end, you can – I kid you not – customize the commercial for your car, and get a copy of the generated commercial e-mailed to you.
On the one hand, the end-to-end experience is easily one of the best, and makes the most of every minute spent waiting in line and distributing the crowds in the different sections. On the other hand, it is without a doubt the most heavy-handed non-Disney advertising I have felt this entire trip, and that includes the Coca-Cola building where the attraction was “tasting different Coca-Cola products” in a room stock with nothing but Coca-Cola products. I get that it’s being sponsored by Chevy, but based on how I felt being in the process, it did absolutely nothing to nudge the needle about my next car being a Chevy.
Over in Norway (I think), there’s a Frozen boat ride. A lovely spectacle of a ride, whose schtick (besides an animatronic Olaf and Elsa, of course) is the fact that the boats move backward for a bit; the ride moves in a bit of a “Z” shape. This was a bit of a unique twist, which I appreciated. Lots of blue lighting and snow imagery and all that other stuff associated with Frozen filled out the visuals, with a short-but-present drop at the end. Overall, one of the better boat rides we’ve been to thus far.
Lizzy and I went back to the hotel for a bit to get changed; our next stop was Jellyrolls, a dueling piano bar on the boardwalk. I was reminded of a high school friend who did something similar in high school; the mix of comedy and request playing was fantastic, if just for the sheer breadth of songs that were sung. “Let It Go” and “It’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” were played for laughs. Other songs spanning from the 50s through 2019 were played, pop to country to…even a rap song, they got ’em all in. It was very impressive to watch. It was funny to see how many songs Lizzy’s mom didn’t recognize. On the one hand, her not recognizing some of the newer Taylor Swift songs, I could kinda understand…but not even recognizing “I Want It That Way” or “A Thousand Miles“? I’m pretty sure the woman threw out her radio in 1995, but we had a good laugh. During “I Want It That Way”, Lizzie, Beatrice, and I had a fantastic time singing Weird Al’s satirical version “eBay”.
Lizzy stayed longer than I did, so her parents and I split a Lyft. To get to the spot for pickup, we walked through the Boardwalk Hotel. Y’know how everyone goes broke if they land on Boardwalk in Monopoly? This hotel makes it perfect sense. It’s an extremely posh hotel I sincerely doubt I will ever be able to afford to stay in. Amusingly, our driver was Jesus, so the notification texts were the best. “Jesus is arriving in a Mazda CX-9”, “Jesus is here”, and “Thanks for riding with Jesus”…we had a great laugh over that.