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Latest Photos of 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride and Splash Mountain Reopens!

Latest Photos of 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride and Splash Mountain Reopens!

News and Views around Walt Disney World-fourth week of March 2014

We are going to visit Epcot first today! I have a guest with me today that is very interested in the hydroponic gardening that is being featured at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. So first, let’s go to the Land in Future World and ride “Living with the Land” for an intro into what this is all about. While we are waiting in line to board the ride my guest is enjoying the colorful artwork and the quotes painted on the walls.  It is our turn to board! As the ride takes us through the water cycle and shows us what erosion is and new developments in farming I could see my guest was taking it all in.

When we got to the greenhouses and the stages of hydroponic/Aquaponic gardening was all laid out for him to see I could tell he was really excited about it.  His eyes were drawn to so many varieties of food growing this way and how it was being done.  By the time we departed the boat ride I knew where we were going to go next: to the sign-up desk at the “Behind the Seeds” Tour.  If you have an annual pass you get a discount on this tour.  We signed up and were off on the next tour that departed in ten minutes. The tour lasts an hour and you enter different backstage labs and set-ups where things like pest control, using good bugs to get rid of the bad, and into growing areas back stage, then you go back into the greenhouses we saw on the tour, but got closer to all the plants, tasted cucumbers grown there, receiving more in-depth information on how this process works and the many benefits of it.  At the end of the tour there is a game that the group plays trying to identify the spices by sight and smell that we saw growing around us. Did you know that hydroponic gardening used 90 to 95 less water to grow plants compared to planting them in soil?

This type of gardening is being used all over the planet to grow crops and conserve our precious water supply.  Our tour guide was very excited about her job there and was ready to answer any of our questions. A couple on the tour had been trying to grow pineapples locally and had questions as they had been unsuccessful so far. Our tour guide told them exactly how they could do it. She showed us how to get started with hydroponics at home, gave us a handout with instructions and a list of websites for information and sources for buying the materials.  I would highly recommend this tour as it was inexpensive and full of interesting information. And it was fun!

Next we headed toward World Showcase and walked through the garden on irrigation and raised bed gardening that we were also interested in.  Urban Eats Food Outdoor Kitchen on the promenade has a small version of the Aquaponic gardening process that we saw in the Land. The food served at this Flower and Garden Festival food location was grown here at Epcot by this process. My group was getting hungry but the majority definitely wanted food from the bakery in France so we headed that way.

Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie has so many great options for snacks, desserts, or a meal.  I noticed they had something new Pumpkin Soup in a crusty bread bowl. Yep, I am getting that! I also ordered a sandwich of French Brie, thinly sliced apple pieces, and a light cranberry sauce on a French Baguette. I ordered mine toasted and the French Cast Member advised me that it is better served cold. Now I have had this sandwich both ways, which were suggested by different cast members and I thought the last one I had which was toasted was far over the top for my tastes so I thanked her for her opinion but would prefer mine toasted. She asked me again if I was sure, yes, I am sure.  It was fantastic. The Pumpkin Soup in the bread bowl was thick and creamy with a wonderful, not too-much flavor of pumpkin. The bread bowl was perfect and I really enjoyed eating it at the end. My guests ordered a Spinach Quiche and the other a Ham and Cheese Croissant, toasted.  We chose a couple of desserts to split and headed outside for one of those little tables in the street.  We found one but it was directly in the sun and very hot there.  We kept an eye out for someone on the shaded side of the street to look like they were getting ready to leave.  It only was a couple of minutes and a shaded table opened up. We enjoyed our meal, sharing bits with each other.

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We decided to work our way around World Showcase and hope we had not eaten too much to try some items at Outdoor Kitchens we had selected.  It was a beautiful day with a light breeze blowing.  We enjoyed looking at the special gardens and playgrounds along the way. By the time we got to the Florida Fresh Outdoor Kitchen near Germany we were ready to share a couple of the food items. We chose the Watermelon Salad, Shrimp and Grits, and a Watermelon Slush.  They were all very good and we would order them again.  We talked some about the items needed to start the hydroponic garden and decided to head over to the Festival Center to see if they had any other information there. Sadly the Festival Center closes by 5:30PM and we just missed it. We saw one of the Epcot bunny rabbits nibbling on the grass outside. We have spotted other ones through the day here. They must love all these extra gardens right now!

My two guests and I split, they went to gather supplies for their garden and I went to Magic Kingdom. I want to keep you updated on all that is happening over there. Waiting for the Ferry Boat to dock I made FastPass+ selections on the MyDisneyExperience phone app.  I got Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean very close to my arrival time, but could not get Big Thunder Mountain until very late at night.  Leaving the Transportation and Ticket Center on the Ferry Boat I can see great progress has been made on the second Ferry Boat landing here.  It is supposed to be open by Mid April. There are three Ferry Boats operating almost every day now and these new docks, one at TTC and one at Magic will enable boats to load/unload two at a time rather than sitting out there waiting for the dock to open up.

Next to the dock we can see progress being made on the new DVC bungalows and board walk at the Polynesian Resort.  Coming across the water we can see a big boom behind the Cinderella Castle, just a taste of the busy construction that the Magic Kingdom is experiencing right now.  Walking down Main Street I see the construction fabric cover still over Main Street Confectionary, but the shop is still operating. I make a mental note to stop by and get some fudge on the way out.  Down at the Casey’s Corner I see it is packed and that fresh sod has been laid down, which now have people sitting all over it enjoying their hot dogs.  More construction fences line the walkways toward the Castle. The Swan Boat landing has been completely demolished, as has the gazebo building that was below Plaza Restaurant.  There are construction vehicles parked below the bridges and near the Castle.  We see the Tomorrowland water fall next to Cosmic Rays getting a new paint job.

Let’s cross over to Adventureland.  There is a FastPass+ kiosk here that is still very busy and I am glad I made my FastPass+ selections earlier on my phone.  I am an annual Passholder and still awaiting delivery of my MagicBand.  They are supposed to be mailed out to all Annual Passholders who ordered them on MyDisneyExperience by the end of March.  The camel is not spitting today at the Magic Carpets of Aladdin, and we later see the water cannons are not operating at Splash Mountain because Disney decided it was too cool today.  Jungle Cruise has become the latest to host FastPass+ kiosks and it is rather daunting to look down there and see several long lines of people. I heard one guest pass Jungle Cruise by because she thought that all those people were waiting to get on it.  This location is noted on the map as a FP+ location.  However, the other day at Hollywood Studios I had picked up a list of FP+ kiosks and the guide map and discovered that the two locations that I saw FP+ Cast Members with iPads were not indicated on either of these.  There was one on the same street as Peevy’s Polar Pipeline and were told we could not go down that street because it was now an exit for FP+. We went around the other way on the sidewalk.  The other location not indicated in the printed materials was around the base of Mickey’s big sorcerer’s hat. Cast Members have said that these FP+ kiosk locations are very fluid and try to follow the guests travel patterns around the park at different times of day. Ok. But indicating that on the printed materials you hand out may be a good idea so when you go to where you are told they will be and finding nothing does not enhance the guests’ experience.   On another note, I have been watching for Peevy’s to reopen here in Hollywood Studios because it was one of my family’s top frozen drink locations and it was open.  I waited in a very long line because there was only one cast member working there.  But what really disappointed me was when I purchased the two Slushes and walked to Animation Courtyard to catch up with a friend, they had separated with the syrup in the bottom and the ice at the top.  No color left in the ice at all.  We tried our best to mix it up again with our straws, but it just was not the same.  We were very disappointed and I don’t know what the explanation was as it was not a hot day, and it was a very short time for this to happen. I can no longer recommend this location.  Next time I am there I will watch people’s cups for a few minutes and see if it happens again.

I get to Pirates of the Caribbean and head for the FastPass+ entrance.  There is a short line into the courtyard and I check my watch.  Two people in front of me did not have any FastPasses and did not realize that was the line they were in.  Pirates were on both sides of the entrance asking people to use the scanners on both sides at the same time trying to move people through the entrance quickly. Once I got through I had no trouble walking through the queue, only catching up with a short line near the loading area.  The boats were loaded and we moved away on our high seas adventure.  I did get wet, but not where I expected to.  After the scene with Barbosa and the fort we turned to the right to face the well scene.  There was one last “cannon ball” from the ship that landed just to the rear and right of our ride boat and it splashed me pretty good.  There was a family on the row in front of me and they had never ridded PotC before so it was fun to watch their reactions to the ride.  One of their little guys was not so sure he wanted to ride, but did and remained very quiet for his first pass through.  Afterwards I saw him give his mom thumbs up for the ride.

Next, Splash Mountain!! Splash reopened over the weekend and I was so excited to ride it again.  When I hit the bridge I saw that the boats had just stopped.  They were having trouble with Br’er Bear again causing a commotion upstream.  I was a bit thirsty so I ran into Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café.  I ordered a Strawberry Lemonade Slush and a basket of Onion Rings.  The first thing I noticed when picking up my Slush was how heavy it was compared to what I had the other day at Peevy’s Polar Pipeline in Hollywood Studios.  This one at Pecos Bill is the real thing.  It was heavy, tasty, and full of a great balance between the two flavors of Strawberry and Lemonade.  It was good to the last drop too, never separating.  The Onion Ring Basket had large freshly fried rings and a good amount for the price.  I enjoyed it outside sitting on the short wall in front of the fence that faces Splash Mountain so I could watch it while I ate my snack.  The boats were up and running faster than it took me to get my order filled.  I took some photos to share with you before rounding the corner by Briar Patch.  On the bridge you will see that the house that had Br’er Rabbit in it that said Splash Mountain has disappeared.  The wait time for stand-by is up to two hours. I am so glad I got a FastPass for this.  There was a short wait in the line leading to the FastPass+ entrance but, just like at Pirates, once through the entrance you move very quickly to the loading area.  I enjoyed the ride very much; I have missed it during the long refurbishment time.  Everything looks clean and fresh and all the audio and animatronics was working great.  You may notice that some of the grass has been replaced with artificial grass; it is that brighter green grass you see around the big drop out front.  Even with the water cannons turned off today, yes, you should expect to get wet every time you ride Splash Mountain.  It was great!

Let’s run over to 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride in New Fantasyland.  There is a rumor we will be able to ride this early in May with another blog reporting it as a quote from a hotel employee near Downtown Disney. We have not been able to confirm that officially with Disney.  There are some people on one of the landings where an Imagineer (Bob) looks to be describing the ride movements to a Disney Cast Member holding a packet of papers, wearing a hard hat with Disney’s Safety logo on the side. There is also a new sign up on one of the doors with an owl carved into the top and it says “RESTRICTED AREA CAST MEMBERS ONLY Contact Operations at XXXX or Engineering at XXXX to obtain clearance.”  I hope that you enjoy the newest photos of this exciting ride that will be opening this Spring.

I did stop at Main Street Confectionary on the way out and they have a new Frozen-inspired line of treats: Olaf the Snowman Candy Apple, Snow Flakes cookie pops, crispy rice Mickey heads and cupcakes.

By Cassie

About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.