EPCOT Report: New Exhibit, Ratatouille Ride Merch, Low Crowds & Temperatures

We’re back at EPCOT with the latest updates from World Showcase and Future World! In this Walt Disney World park report, we’ll take a look at Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, American Adventure’s new exhibit, crowds, and walk-on wait times.

As you can probably tell from the above photo of us standing sideways, the weather is chilly right now at Walt Disney World. We’ve had lows in the upper 30s, with even lower “feels like” temperatures. That’s nothing for some of you–we spotted dozens of guests wearing shorts–but it’s been a while since we’ve lived in the Midwest. Although we’ll never be comfortable with the summer humidity, we’ve become pretty acclimated to the warmer weather.

Nevertheless, we opted to brave the arctic freeze, bundled up, and headed out to EPCOT to check out the latest changes and take advantage of the low crowds. One thing we’ve learned over the last several years is that cold weather like this is the perfect time to visit. Floridians don’t leave the house if it drops below 60 degrees, and even the “tough” Midwesterners are often caught off guard by the impact of humidity on how cold it feels. The result is parks emptying out after the sun goes down…

Before we get started with the photo report, we should note that the 2021 Taste of EPCOT Festival of the Arts is still ongoing through February 22. It’s not covered here, but see our 2021 EPCOT Festival of the Arts Review for thoughts and photos.

Spoiler: it’s the best event of the year at EPCOT! (Our only disappointment with it thus far is that we’ve gotten really unlucky with the paint by numbers mural, and invariably catch its first day, rather than when it’s in finished form.)

We’re also not going to fixate on construction progress at EPCOT, as we just did that a couple of weeks ago.

If you’re curious where things presently stand, look at those photos and then imagine what could be done in the span of two weeks working at a relatively leisurely pace. That about sums it up. Instead, we’ll focus on other updates here, starting with crowds and wait times…

After a couple months of extending under the monorail track and wrapping around the corner, the line for Test Track now typically stays under its canopy.

During recent visits, the posted wait has not eclipsed an hour. We’re seeing times as low as 15 minutes, and averaging around 30. Pretty similar story for Soarin’ Around the World.

When EPCOT’s headliners have ~30 minute posted waits, that means you’re going to encounter walk-ons pretty much everywhere else.

You really don’t even need an itinerary on weekdays right now. Just do attractions at your leisure and focus on enjoying EPCOT’s Festival of the Arts.

This bridge at the front of World Showcase is often one of the more congested areas of EPCOT. You’ll find past park reports on the blog picturing it as a sea of people.

Above is the current crowd situation at EPCOT, encapsulated in a single photo.

Walt Disney World has released merchandise for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure ahead of the attraction’s opening. This occurred over the weekend, and much of it had already sold out by the time we got around to checking it out.

Presumably, it’s not so much “sold out” as the inventory shifted from being sold by Disney to being sold by eBay pirates. We’d recommend waiting, as this will certainly be restocked–and end up on shopDisney. (You can’t complain about eBayers but also buy from them.)

Please do not construe this merchandise release as a “sign” that the opening of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure is imminent. The only thing it’s a sign of is Disney’s desire to make money. And that’s not exactly breaking news.

As we discuss in our Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure Opening & Info post, the attraction has been more or less finished since last fall, ready to open whenever advantageous.

The reason the first set of construction walls are down is because the Morocco restrooms went down for refurbishment. The first section of the Streets of Paris opened because World Showcase needed more restroom capacity.

Neither the merchandise nor the restrooms have any bearing on the attraction’s opening date. Nevertheless, we see many Walt Disney World fans view these as “clues” and are eager for any “rumors” about Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opening “any day now.” (Those are all heavy air quotes.) There’s no reason to believe that’s happening.

A look at “crowds” from the second level of the Japan pavilion.

We also went inside the Mitsukoshi Department Store, and were literally the only guests in there. Spotted some fun new items, including some Nintendo merchandise and a tanuki mug.

Also headed up to the Katsura Grill seating area for a “Moment of Zen.”

The architecture, flowing water, lanterns, and background music make for incredibly relaxing atmosphere. Since it’s unlikely we’ll be back in Kyoto anytime soon, this will have to suffice!

In disappointing World Showcase news, the “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure” has debuted in the lobby of American Adventure. Its debut is not what’s disappointing, rather it’s the scale that falls short.

This new exhibit celebrates the distinctly American musical art form, originated by African Americans and fusing the influences of many different cultures. Apparently, you’ll soon be able to use the Play Disney Parks mobile app to interact with the exhibit and test your knowledge of jazz.

I was expecting this to be a fairly elaborate exhibit based upon the previews and press releases hyping it up. There are even banners outside on lampposts around American Adventure advertising the exhibit.

To my surprise, it’s a single wall and two display cases. It’s perfectly adequate and a nice little display, but I feel it would be better suited as a “quiet discovery” guests could stumble upon like other World Showcase exhibits. (Or a significantly larger installation.) Instead, Disney has opted for the overpromise and underdeliver route. Perhaps that’s just my perception, though.

We also caught the last performance by the Voices of Liberty. It was a very small crowd, undoubtedly owing to the ~40 temperatures.

However, during the day, they’re performing to packed houses. Even on light weekdays, we’ve had trouble finding seats. Absolutely love to encounter that temporary inconvenience, as the popularity of these shows is what brings back more live entertainment.

Also pretty quiet in Italy, despite its restaurants being open.

It’s been a while since we’ve done Via Napoli, but we plan on doing it again soon so long as they continue seating outdoors.

Continuing in World Showcase, we have some good news–wait times are down dramatically for Frozen Ever After.

We haven’t seen the line extend into the China pavilion in the last couple of weeks. (Keep in mind, we only do weekdays at EPCOT.) During our evening visit, the attraction was a near walk-on; we only waited 3 minutes.

I’m definitely a fan of short wait times, but can’t say the same of plexiglass barriers installed on the boats in Frozen Ever After. Either it’s safe to seat every row due to the short duration of the attraction, constant movement, and airflow–or it isn’t. Plexiglass does not change the equation on aerosol transmission.

Sorry, but I’m going to keep harping on safety theater so long as Walt Disney World keeps making changes as if our collective understanding of transmission is stuck in last March. Mitigation needs to evolve beyond barriers, sanitizing, and surface disinfection. Disney still has not once addressed ventilation or air filtration, which are significant concerns in restaurants, shows, and other indoor settings. Yet the “plexiglass proliferation” continues unabated. We’ll happily take the lower wait times the plexiglass brings with it, but the barriers themselves are not moving the needle much on actual safety.

In the saga of the Three Caballeros Audio Animatronics in the finale of Gran Fiesta Tour, we have a humorous development: cardboard cutouts. This follows the Donald Duck AA being propped up by a box, followed by his figure being replaced by a floral memorial.

I honestly think Walt Disney World is trolling us at this point, because no one but hardcore fans are paying attention to the daily goings on of a C-Ticket attraction in the winter off-season. Expect these flats to stick around for a while, as Disney has indicated the Audio Animatronics won’t return until spring. Disney has offered no clarification as to whether they mean this spring. Two years later and we’re still waiting on the winter “blast-off” of Space 220 Restaurant.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

What do you think about what we’ve covered in this EPCOT update? If you’re planning a visit this winter, are you looking forward to the low wait times and crowds? Plan on buying any Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure merchandise? Thoughts on the proliferation of plexiglass–does it make you more or less comfortable? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

45 Responses to “EPCOT Report: New Exhibit, Ratatouille Ride Merch, Low Crowds & Temperatures”
  1. Kelly February 6, 2021
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