Husband and I spent today (spent being the operative word) at EPCOT, enjoying their Food and Wine festival with some good friends. This is a little something Disney does during the off season to encourage locals to come. Let me give you a total.
$ 7.00 -- parking
$110.76 -- one day passes for two people (yes, it now costs OVER 50 FUCKING DOLLARS TO WALK INTO EPCOT)
$ 54.28 -- all you can eat dinner for two at the Akershus in the Norway Pavilion (and damned well worth it. Yum!)
i can't get over that ticket price. This isn't a multi-park pass. This isn't a return pass. This is ONE DAY, in ONE PARK, for ONE PERSON -- something around #52.00 a piece plus tax AND $7.00 for freaking parking. Do you wonder at all why we haven't been there in almost 4 years? And does it surprise you at all that we are not likely to go again for another 4 years?
Now, that price up there doesn't include the festival. That's a whole different situation. It works like this -- there are little wagons set up all around each serving tiny portions of food and wine from various countries. (There are also various wine tastings you can attend that don't cost anything extra because they are big advertising moments for the various wine companies.) At each of these little venues, it will cost between $4 and $10 to try a few items. We had a Polish Cherry wine I quite liked, and something called Valckenberg Madonna -- a sparkling wine -- that was delicious. We tried a LOT of various wines, all served in 3 ounce cups and shared between four people, yet I managed to get a little light headed right before we sat down to dinner. I'm such a cheap date. We sampled food and wine from Australia, from Germany, from Ireland, and from different places in South America, among others. Oh, and we tried a Plum Wine/Saki called Ginkobai while in the Japan Pavilion -- that was some very, very, VERY good stuff. There was some fairly nasty stuff in spots (like the Samual Adams Cherry Wheat Beer -- foul, foul stuff! Smells nice, tastes like a burnt sock. We dumped it on some of the genetically engineered, unnervingly perfect Disney Grass)
And that's probably the most alcohol I've had to drink in a single day in several years.
EPCOT has changed considerably in the nearly 4 years since the last time I was there. First, the parking lot people now ride Segways while they direct cars -- obviously, this explains the NEED for the $7 per car parking fee. We also saw Segways in the park tricked out as little sales buggies for the "glow-in-the-dark" stuff they hawk before the fireworks go off.
And the big Golf Ball (Spaceship Earth) now has a huge Mickey Hand holding a Wand attached to it, which looks tacky as hell. Like the big Golf Ball wasn't distinctive enough. Oh, and in what used to be the open pavilion between the entrance area and Spaceship Earth is filled now with rows of red marble monoliths in graduated sizes. The monoliths hold tiny one inch square laser cut "photos" people have paid to have attached. From a few feet away, they look like odd hyroglyphs. Close up, they look like generic outline faces. Yes, you too can now pay good money to have a lousy and very tiny picture of yourself attached to what looks like a bomb barrier.
I was not impressed.
I was impressed with the new Mission to Mars ride. It was quite effectively done and fairly fun, if ever so slightly nausea inducing. If you've ever ridden Star Tours, this is even better and not nearly as goofy. It's also a little too short, but then I suppose there's a matter of attention span. They've got Gary Senise doing the little movie and the voice acting for it.
Other than that, I'd say the last few years have not been good to Disney. Many areas I remember having shops or shows are now closed off. Several restaurants were relatively empty for large parts of the day (although it IS off season right now). Still, the weather was perfect, the usual annoying factors were not so annoying, and I had a good time. I'll sleep well.