Walt Disney World has been on a much-discussed “killing spree” as of late, and it seems to be coming fast – and all at once. This has been a ridiculously hot topic in my house, with the entire family trying to speculate at Disney’s justification for this abrupt succession of closures and dramatic revamps. After a busy week, the kids and I decided we had to spend this day (the day of the ax) saying good-bye. Today was the last day to experience Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Mo’Rockin, Off-Kilter, and Drum and Fife Corps at Epcot.
Recently, we’ve been discussing the local transportation services (Lynx). The I-Drive Trolley runs just past our home, and we’re laying out some plans to haunt the I-Drive area in the coming months. Feeling adventurous, we decided to take the Lynx bus to Disney. I looked up the route. We can walk to a stop for the #50, which runs directly to Disney property in 20 minutes. Why not? We could catch the 11:40 bus, and all would go smoothly. Neither of the kids wanted to get an early start or spend a full day-night at the parks. We were simply on a mission, and we could accomplish it! I looked up the schedules of the performances at Epcot, and all seemed do-able… except…. Walt Disney World’s official site suddenly said that the final Drum and Fife performance would be on the 25th, not the 27th. Needless to say, this sudden change left me more than a little upset, but I have no time travel abilities, so I suppose I’ll have to hang on to the last performance I saw – earlier this year…
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This morning, mistake #1 came swiftly. I didn’t urge my teen daughter to get ready until 10:00 AM. Forget the 11:40 bus… 12:10, maybe? Almost! We missed the bus by 30 seconds. 12:40 it is! Seamless ride… until we neared Disney. A man got on the bus, pacing the aisle while we neared Downtown Disney – stopping to inspect each row of passengers, and tightly gripping an odd looking package. As we pulled into Downtown Disney, he started loudly slur-shouting something about Rainforest Cafe being a wild adventure and asking at random who was going to eat there. Weird guy exiting at Downtown Disney. Sit tight, kids… we’re staying on till the Ticket and Transportation Center! We pull in there at 1:10.
Of course, the TTC is no longer where the Disney buses pick up – just the Lynx buses. We continue on the ferry to the Magic Kingdom, and arrive at the bus stop for Hollywood Studios at 1:25. By 2:10, we were still waiting on the bus that is said to come every 20 minutes. I have never seen so many people waiting on a Disney bus in my life, and when that bus finally pulled in at 2:20, it arrived to grand applause. Fortunately, we were the second family in line, and we found seats easily. That bus driver kept encouraging more riders to board, well beyond what was appropriate. When he finally felt he had crammed every last person in that he could, the queue was still full for the next round, and I had a very large rump pushed into my face while one of those awful Frozen balloons was stuck to the side of my head. Seriously? I did enjoy the jokes I exchanged with a neighboring passenger about how breathing really was so overrated anyway.
We arrive at the gates to Studios at 2:35. We left the house almost 3 hours ago… we live about 7-10 miles away… and we’re still not in a park? Naturally, we had a Magicband issue and had to visit the ticket booth… another wait. My husband was now off work, and due to meet us at Epcot before long. I look at the kids as we’re waiting for a free ticketing attendant, and I point out that I just thought about how long Backlot is. We have to get there, wait for it to start, go through the entire attraction – about 35 minutes – THEN, take the boat to Epcot, and find dear ol’ dad. By that point, he’s likely to have had too much down time at the Guinness booth, and the Epcot shows will be done for the day.
Oh well… at least we did Backlot recently…
On to the boats to World Showcase! Of course… there is suddenly a tremendous line waiting on the next boat. On our way to the gates, there has been three people. Thanks to Disney cramming, we did manage to get on the next boat – standing, this time. I don’t necessarily mind the standing, but I am quite a klutzy, wobbly person. I tend to sway into those near me. So sorry for that one, folks! This time, I think everyone was more concerned with the young child on the boat who had the most piercing, shrill scream I’ve ever heard… and stunning breath control! It felt like an insanely long boat ride, but we finally got to the World Showcase entrance of Epcot, and finally… we were officially IN a park… at 3:20.
First priority… mom needs a beverage! It is Food and Wine Festival time, after all! The first reasonable line I found was at Morocco, so Mimosa Royale it was!
We scurry off to Norway, planning to get a ride on Maelstrom before catching Mo’Rockin at 4:45. Maelstrom isn’t closing for another week, but it’s one of our favorites, so why not? Upon arrival, we are greeted with a 75 minute wait. You know… for that horribly unpopular ride that needs a Fantasyland-style do-over? Okay… we’ll have to come back to Maelstrom. Off to catch Mo’Rockin… and find my husband.
On the way back to Morocco, on the approach to America Pavilion, I thought I heard a drum… and a fife. You’ve got to be kidding, right? Disney’s official word was not what I should have gone by. What I was hearing was the FINAL Drum and Fife Performance. This was all I caught. Had I only known…
Once the whole family made it to Morocco, we were front and center for one of the final performances of Mo’Rockin. Even with all the bumps in our day, this was when the day actually became sad. So many people turned out for these performances, and even with no announcement at the park of the swan songs, it was obvious that these were very aware, and very sad, crowds that were there (as we were) to show that final wave of support. What a performance!
When news of the show’s ending hit social media, I recall reading comments from a few guests referring to this performance as “lewd” or a “strip show” due to the inclusion of the dance aspect. Not only do I find that to be an extremely over-dramatized perspective, but it is culturally ignorant… to say the very least. To deny a cultural tradition and art form of its validity is beyond inappropriate and arrogant. This was a beautiful, traditional show.
Thank you, Mo’Rockin, for so many years… and a gracious good-bye!
From here, it’s off to Canada for the 6:15 Off Kilter show (their final show being at 7:30). But first, I opted to wait in the insanely long line for the Food and Wine booth in France for La Passion Martini Slush. As long as that line was, I have to say… the French rocked it! I was out of there in no time flat, and ready to tackle the sea of people between France and Canada. Onward!
Now might be a good time to mention that the drinks are heavy-handed this year… or perhaps, it was just my luck turning around? Either way, I was much more contented by now – after a fiasco just getting here! This was when my daughter said, “I think my feet grew overnight”. Huh? Yep – all of a sudden, poor girl’s favorite comfy shoes are choking her toes. It’s all about timing with us today, isn’t it? Just bad timing all around. Okay, we’ll catch Off Kilter and then make a beeline for the car. This is when my husband points out that he’s parked in row 81… out of, what – 85? *Sigh*
Huge crowd for Off Kilter. We were there about 45 minutes in advance, and were still relatively obstructed in our view of the show. Amazing – the sea of Off Kilter t-shirts and men in kilts. This might be a good time to mention the countless Maelstrom t-shirts I saw today… on people, not on the shelves. Norway just keeps pulling out more of that God-awful Frozen merchandise. We caught A LOT of unhappy guests today, loudly complaining about the changes coming to Epcot. Was the timing coinciding with Food and Wine Festival really a smart move in announcing all of this? Add a little booze to the furor, Disney… sheesh!
Top guests of the day… The man who was walking by with a group saying “They don’t want you to get a beer here anymore. It’s Fantasyland the sequel over here!!” … and the group of women with the matching, personalized, custom Food and Wine shirts that read “Let’s get ready to stumble”.
Off Kilter put on a truly amazing show. Always high-energy!! I’ve never been a fan of bagpipes, but Off Kilter is the exception. They’ve been a part of Epcot for as long as I can remember. They’re fun, and I am incredibly disappointed that we won’t have another Off Kilter Christmas this year!
Off Kilter closed the show with “Amazing Grace”. I have no words… you just have to hear this one…
As soon as the performance was over, my daughter’s poor feet were now a source of exceptional concern. Daddy weaved the kids toward the entrance, with me only stopping them a time or three for quick pics on the way out. After all, I’m going backwards here… I haven’t seen the entrance yet!
By the time we got to the entrance, my daughter was DONE. We are ever-so-grateful to the kind security guard that allowed us to nab a nearby wheelchair to help her through the journey to the car. My supremely awesome son kindly volunteered to push his injured sister, and off we went.
No Maelstrom, no Backlot, no Drum and Fife (well, not really)… but we did have a fun day after all, and we were all beyond grateful to catch Mo’Rockin and Off Kilter one last time. Epcot is making a tremendous mistake at Epcot… a series of them, really. It was painfully obvious that MANY guests were feeling the same way as we were. The bands took time to pose with fans. Video cameras were everywhere, as were the tears. When we got home, my daughter spent nearly an hour angrily blasting Disney’s decision once again. In the midst of her tirade, she asked the million dollar question… don’t they care that people don’t want this? The painful truth… no.
We’ll miss you – Mo’Rockin, Off Kilter, Drum and Fife, World Showcase Players, Backlot Tour, and Maelstrom… wow. 😦