News and Views Around Walt Disney World-Happy New Year 2014!

News and Views Around Walt Disney World-Happy New Year 2014!

During the week of New Year’s Eve and Day, the news is pretty much about the large crowds and special Holiday food and drink offerings, and a bit about new merchandise.  There is so much going on to celebrate ending 2013 and welcoming in 2014 at Walt Disney World.  These are some of the busiest days in the Parks so going into one you need to have a lot of patience and no agenda for riding all your usual favorites.  The line waits for New Year’s Eve were incredibly long and not conducive to riding your usual number of rides in a day.  Those who looked the happiest were the ones taking in all the sights and sounds and were the ones without a list of must-do attractions.  A few others were frustrated and grumpy guests. Being flexible is the key to enjoying the Parks during the Holidays.

I am excited to see the stages set up in the countries along World Showcase for the entertainment later today.  Most of the countries also have new food and beverage offerings for tonight so let’s see if we can find one for lunch.   Entering after bag check I could see this was not going to be an easy task.  Right after leaving bag check we are running into long lines filling up all the usually empty space.  These are people waiting in line to purchase tickets. Whoa, this place is really filling up fast. Let’s move around the side of the ticket booths and find the shortest line to the entrance plaza.  We just ran into more very congested semi-lines of people trying to get in with their tickets.  People are still having trouble understanding the new Mickey head ticket and finger scanners.  We are in! That long line only took us 17 minutes. I do think the new entrance scans are still faster that the old turnstiles. There was a little tension as people approached the entrance and realized their line was not really leading to an entrance scanner so people had to blend together. Everyone around us is thankfully still in a good mood and allowing people to blend in.

The next sign that things were not going to move at a reasonable rate of speed was seeing the line at Spaceship Earth and the Stand-by wait time was 70 minutes.  Soarin’ Fast Passes were all distributed by around 9:30 this morning.  The current wait time for Soarin’ is 220 minutes according to the My Disney Experience AP.  Soarin’ wait time later hit four hours.  Test Track Fast Passes were all distributed by 10AM with current wait time also at 220 minutes.  Living with the Land is 70 minutes, Journey into Imagination is 70 minutes, and Mission Space is about three hours.  The bathroom line at the front of the park had about 25 people outside the door waiting to get inside.  The Guest Relations line was curved around and down to the shadow of Spaceship Earth.  This days wait times are some of the longest in their history.  Test Track had a five hour wait time at 5:15PM on December 31, 2013.

I am not waiting in those lines today if I can help it.  I want to see all the unique things about celebrating New Year’s Eve at Epcot for my first time.  It is time for some fun!

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So we can’t ride anything in Future World right now, let’s run into Mouse Gear and see what is new in merchandise and what is special for today.  Immediately inside the door are displays of 2014 merchandise in the form of t-shirts, hoodies, autograph books, mugs, bags, photo books, etc.  Even Duffy the Bear has a New Years Eve Party Outfit for today! Next we see a display with flashing light-up items.  There are New Year’s Eve 2014 lanyards with light up elements hanging from them.  One guest was having fun trying on the 2014 flashing light up glasses and was kind enough to let me take his photo to share with you. There are some additional new items since we went shopping the last time: four new car air refreshers that include a Dole Whip, Mickey Waffle, Candy Apple and Popcorn scents. Mmmm.  A Dole Whip scented air freshener may cause my car to drive directly to the Magic Kingdom!  I guess that is the goal from Disney merchandiser’s standpoint. For Jack Skellington fans you will find a shiny Jack sticker for your car or computer.  There are many new Haunted Mansion Home Dec items including a photo frame that holds a card inside that reads “Tomb Sweet Tomb”.

The store is very crowded today, as is the whole park.  So let’s head over to World Showcase.  Walking down the bridge between Future World and World Showcase we see over to the right some PortaPotties, additional food carts and large white Mickey Head balloons that signify something you will be looking for later and to help you notice it is here.  There is also temporary fencing up near the water and some signs, let’s go over there and see what the sign says.  It says “Fireworks Viewing Area will open at 5PM”. So people are going to be given access to these grassy areas later so they can see the fireworks shows.  These pretty flowers are going to take a beating I am afraid.

Moving along we come to Canada.  Canada has an additional beverage stand right on the promenade in front of the Disney Vacation Club cabin.  They are serving Domaine St. Michelle Blancs Sparkling Wine $9.00, Moosehead Draft Beer $8.50, Torontopolitan (made with Vodka) $8.25, Blue Glow-Tini $11.25, Coke products $2.75, Bottled Water $2.50.

Coming around the corner from Canada we are alerted to additional bathrooms in the World Showplace pavilion, at least until the Special Dining Event there begins later today.  This had the shortest line of all the bathrooms so far.  I do not see any additional stands in the UK section of Epcot so I am crossing the bridge to France.   We immediately see the large stand in front of us.  Everyone around it had a red plastic ball about the size of a large grapefruit, with a red straw sticking out of the top.  We have got to find out what that is!  Finding the sign with the menu we can see they are also selling Ham & Cheese Sandwiches for $8.50, Turkey & Brie Sandwiches also for $8.50.  The red plastic balls are Kir Pomegranate for $13.75(Champagne and Pomegranate Liquor), also seen in many hands is the Parisian Cosmo Cocktail $12.50, (Grand Marnier, Vodka, Grey Goose & Cranberry Juice)- so they are both pricey, pack a punch, and very popular here today. Other items are Champagne Nicolas Feuillate $13.00, Hot Coffee Grand Marnier $8.00, Hot Chocolate Rum $8.00, Hot Coffee or Chocolate $3.00, or Bottled Water $2.50. The permanent drink stand with wine, beer, and more alcoholic drinks is also open and busy.

Between France and Morocco is a cart with Turkey Legs for $4.75, and Glazed nuts (Almonds, Pecans), chips $3.00, Coke products $2.75, Bottled Water $2.50, Bud Light $6.25, and Michelob Ultra $7.00. It’s great to see additional food stops since all the restaurants are booked up and the counter service lines are extremely long.  Next we come to Morocco. They have a beautiful drink cart set up next to the Henna tattoo spot. They have a couple tables with carefully built pyramids of their souvenir martini glasses ($5.00) stacked up. I wonder how long before someone knocks those down. There are actually two Morocco beverage stands selling the same beverage choices.  Tangier’s Champini $8.00(sparkling wine, Absolute Peach Vodka and Lime Juice), Sultan’s Grand Mimosa $8.00 (Sparkling Wine, Orange Juice & Grand Mariner), Marrakesh Kir Royale $8.00 (Sparkling wine, Crème de Casis & Grenadine), Sangria $7.00, Imported Beer $7.00, Domestic Beer $5.00, Snack $3.00, Bottled Water $2.50. Almond Liqueur $9.00, and Orange Liqueur $9.00 for a 2oz. pour.  Across the walkway is the Spice Road Table restaurant that we have been keeping an eye on to open soon.   We can see golden light fixtures have been added as well as some down spouting.  It looks like we will be waiting weeks if not months at this point.  The official word from Disney is “early 2014” since it missed its original deadline of 2013.

We come to Japan next where they have a large area roped off for their food and beverage stands right on the edge of the Promenade.  They are serving Teriyaki Chicken Hand Roll$9.50, and a California Roll $9.50, which they have offered at the Food and Wine Festival recently. Another Snack is a bag of Wasabi Peas for $3.25. Beverages include Kirin Ichiban draft $8.50, Hibiscus Plum Wine $7.50 (hot lemony, with a spicy finish), Plum Wine $7.00, Sake-Yuki “Snow” Junmai $7.50, Mango Pearl $7.50 (Nigori Sake, Peach Schnapps, Mango and Pineapple Juice $7.50 and Bottled Water $2.50.  This line is short at the moment, so I am going to get something to eat here.  What would you like? I am having the Teriyaki Chicken Hand roll and a Kirin Ichiban Draft.  The Cast Members are so friendly here.  They don’t leave any room between the top edge of the glass and the top of the beer either!  We are lucky, there is a standing table right next to the permanent beer stand so let’s get it.  This is a perfect place to people watch from too.  Some guests ask me where I got my roll and I pointed them to the umbrellas at the front of the pavilion.  The line for Katsura Grill extends from the hillside above down to the sign at the bottom of their stairs.  The hand roll is tasty and not dried out at all. There are chunks of white chicken meat rolled up inside the rice layer.  On one end it is wrapped with Nori, Seaweed, that makes it easy to hold. It is served with soy sauce, wasabi, ginger shavings and a very tasty dipping sauce.  I could eat anything with this sauce on it! It was delicious and the Kirin was very refreshing.  The day is overcast a bit, but enough sun is out to warm up the day.  This evening will be much cooler and I am sure some of these vendors will be able to sell their hot drinks as well as their cold.  My concern watching people drinking today is are they doing it responsibly and is Disney responsible for pushing so much alcohol? I see people standing in lines serving hard alcohol while they are drinking a large glass of beer. It is only 2PM.  Some folks are very much in the spirit of the night in both dress and behavior.  There are a lot of happy faces here. I see here for the first time, and several other places on my walk around the world, a group of adults who have purchased one of each alcoholic beverage, requested additional cups depending on the size of their party, then split it up the drinks so they would each taste it yet not drink too much this mid-afternoon.  Pacing themselves maybe?

Next we come to American Adventure where there are no additional beverage stations open.  There already is two permanent food and drink stands here, a funnel cake stand, and quick service restaurant here.  In the American Gardens Theater DJ Steve Dunlap is just getting started and will play hits up until 6PM when Latin Wave will take over.  Also appearing will be DJ Carlos Carrion.  He is calling people to come in and start the party by dancing to the music.  He is able to motivate people to do just that.

Next we come to Italy that has a beverage kiosk out front serving Limoncello Spritzer 8.25, Red Wines from $6.00 to $13.00 for four ounce servings, White Wines $7.00,Sparkling Wines from $6.00 to $8.00 per flute, also Limoncello $7.25/shot, Sambuca $9.00/shot, Peroni Beer $5.86/12 oz, and bottled water $2.50.  This is the first sign that has the “Two Drink per ID” statement on it.  I see no one checking ID’s at any of these stands.  There is another stand serving Panini Sandwiches and two dessert options with Sparkling Wine, Chianti, Pinot Grigio, Moretti draft beer, and bottled water.

China has a very dramatic DJ and Dance area that is visited by a large paper “dancing “dragon.  There is a food stand in China that offers a special drink called Fireworks!  $9.50 that combines Smirnoff Vodka, Jose Cuervo Tequila Gold, Mango Syrup and Soda Water.  They also offer Asti Spumanti $9.00 to drink in the new year, or Tsing Tao Beer $6.50, Happy Lychee with Vodka $8.00, and bottle water for $2.50. You can find more food and beverages next to the water at Joy of Tea. Both the Nine Dragons and the quick service restaurant are providing delicious smells.  China wins today for the most tantalizing smells coming from their eateries. They are very busy and very full.

In the area adjacent to Norway, on the China side, we see more of the large white balloons meant to direct our attention to the spot both on the open side of the Promenade and one behind the wooden wall which may be an indication that they will open this area up later in the evening when things are more congested. Norway has a Carlsberg Beer cart with their native beer on tap. There is an additional stand where they are selling Warm Roast Beef Hand-Carved sandwiches for $8.00 and they are very popular with the crowd here.  The Bakery line extends into the Promenade area today.

Mexico is next and we come to their permanent Margarita stand which has a line that has been split in two parts so it does not cross over the Promenade pathway.  The restaurants are very busy and then we come to a Happy New Year menu board for a temporary stand and additional very long line of eager drinkers.  Here you can purchase the Classic Margarita “on the rocks” with Pomegranate Liqueur Floater for $13.50.  Other items include: Dos Equus Draft Beer 20oz. for $8.00, Mexica Sangria $9.25, Dobel Tequila Reposado $11.00, Patron Tequila Blanco $13.00,  Grey Goose Vodka $11.00, Don Q Silver Rum $9.50, Jack Daniels Whiskey $9.50, Bottle Watter $2.50, Doritos $2.95. At the bottom it says to have your ID ready and that sales tax is not included.

There seem to be a greater number of people here now.  It is difficult to move down the promenade with people going in every direction causing congestion.  The grassy areas just past Mexico have the same signs that say they will be opened up at 5PM for those who want to watch the Fireworks.  The Times Guide says there will be free party favors handed out at 6PM while supplies last.  Magic Kingdom also handed out noisemakers and shiny black top hats starting at 4PM.

It is getting too crowded for my enjoyment so I am heading out. Checking at Guest Services we discover Magic Kingdom is full, it is in phase 4 still. I hope everyone has a safe and happy new year! I am very glad there is Disney transportation for many of the guests here at Epcot today because there certainly is a thirsty bunch here today!

Other items making news this week; Typhoon Lagoon closed a couple of days this week due to low temperatures. In the Magic Kingdom there are two shops that will be closing soon: Heritage House in Liberty Square and 7 Dwarfs Mine shop, near the ride of the same name.  The New Year’s Eve Party at Disney Quest was sold out.

There are some closures and refurbishments scheduled in the coming weeks.  Splash Mountain will be down from January 6, 2014 through March 21, 2014; Tomorrowland Speedway January 6 through January 12; Casey’s Corner January 6 through February 15; Magic Carpets of Aladdin January 13 through January 30; Liberty Square Riverboat January 21 through January 30. Camp Minnie Mickey is closing forever this week, to make room for a new Avatar land in Animal Kingdom.  If your favorites are on this list somewhere, try to get in here and ride it before it goes down, or come back after the refurbishments.

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.