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Old 11-10-2009, 07:20 PM   #1
ehagerty
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Backstage Magic - Friday, October 16, 2009

Wasn't sure how I was going to get to Epcot by 8:45 am, but I should have known the buses would start running from AKL early enough to get the Princess Breakfast people and tour people to Epcot in time. I made sure I was at the stop by 8:10 am.

We drifted into the waiting area outside Guest Relations - the same location where Aqua Tour met the following day. While waiting, I took this picture overhead:







Then, I wandered over to what kind of picture I could get of the geosphere. The bottom was cut off by the turnstile area. Usually I don't bother posting sub-par pictures, but I kind of liked this one - I am not used to seeing the east side lit up - I call it the geo-eclipse - kind of a slangy-naming thing that drives people who really know what they are talking about - like an astronomer - crazy.






From the waiting area, Brian and Dina guided us onto a motor coach (like Magical Express), in the bus zone of the parking lot. We drove around the back of Epcot to the American Adventure, where the tour was divided between external and internal. On the outside, Brian covered reverse-forced-perspective (how they made seven story building look like 3) so as not to overwhelm its neighbors, where the original setting of the AA pavilion was planned, and why it changed. Some of these tidbits can be found in the Imagineers' Guides to the Parks - there's just more tidbits here, and you can ask questions.

Inside was fascinating, even though we basically stood in one spot while Dina talked. Here we could see the kind of things they would not put into a book - the mechanical workings of the stage for the AA show. This is "all in engineering" - mechanical, electronic, computer, etc. I wouldn't say "worth the price of the tour alone" but for people who like to see "how things work," this is a gem.

From here, we headed over to Disney Studios, parking between RnR and ToT. I happened to be at DS during an ESPN weekend a couple of years ago, when this area was set up for sports for little kids. Anyway, this was our first rest stop, followed by Brian describing the inner workings of the ToT, while viewing a ride car that is set aside for this purpose so that we can see it's underpinnings. He went into detail about the partnership with Otis elevator, and what Disney does to make sure it is safe. I didn't know that the cables both pull the car UP and DOWN, so that you are feeling greater than the force of gravity (by 1.2)

Next stop = horticulture, where we were allowed to take pictures (which really helps in remembering details!)

The walkway, with our motor coach in the background








First we learned there are two types of topiaries - ones grown from bushes (one per leg), which take 7 years to reach maturity / display:






or, the more common (now) ones which are grown on frame and have their own internal watering systems to keep them hydrated.







.... sample bare frame











One section contained plants that are grown in partnership with this group:







Here is the hanging basket greenhouse







... with not-so-hidden-mickey wire ears






Lunch break was, as noted in other reviews, Whispering Canyon. I love the Wilderness Lodge, and stay at WLV often. Food was OK. Ribs were pretty good. They did ask if we had allergies at the start of the tour. But I don't have allergies. I was just in the mood for a salad. Anyway - it is a nice spot with so-so food, family style. No biggie. If I didn't know from reading the Dis for 8 years that lunch was once Brown Derby, then Mama Melrose's, I probably wouldn't have noticed so much.

Picture of Brian with his FIRST iced tea:





Next stop = laundry. May sound like a boring topic, but, for me, this WAS "worth the price of admission". Extremely interesting for those who like to see how things work - so much is automated. From there, we walked through fabrication - paint, wood, fiberglass, you name it. Much of the floor space was taken up with the Space Mountain cars being refurbished.




Next stop = laundry. May sound like a boring topic, but, for me, this WAS "worth the price of admission". Extremely interesting for those who like to see how things work - so much is automated. From there, we walked through fabrication - paint, wood, fiberglass, you name it. Much of the floor space was taken up with the Space Mountain cars being refurbished.


Last stop was MK. Here we did the utilidors - similar to Keys to Kingdom tour, without the rides. I don't know why there are no rides on this tour - maybe there isn't time - maybe their clientele are much for rides. We ended up on Main St to watch the parade. From there, it was back on the bus, where we returned to our origination - the Epcot bus parking lot.


Would I do it again? Only if I had reason to believe the commentary would be different enough to learn new perspective.
Was it worth it? Yes - I like seeing how things work
Do I recommend it? Yes - if you like seeing how things work!!



---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sidebar: Since I am between PAP's, I had hoped to be allowed to walk from the parade spot (by the flag) out the front gate to get a bus to the Boardwalk/Swan/Dolphin for my scheduled dinner. But no - they couldn't work that particular bit of magic - I had to bus back to Epcot with the tour, get a bus to DS, then walk over to the Swan (or wait for a boat, which would have taken longer - I know, I watched its progress). If only I could have walked from the front of Epcot to the Beach Club of Boardwalk, I would have been a happy camper....
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