“Nature Inspired Design” Segway Tour at Epcot

On April 27th 2010, we went over to Epcot for the “new” Nature Inspired Design Segway Tour; so new that it wasn’t listed on WDW’s website.

There are spoilers in this post – so skip it if you’re worried about seeing something you want to be a surprise; although I assume if you’re here at Extra WDW Magic — you want to know what to expect…

Frugal Dinks Publishing (c)

Frugal Dinks Publishing (c)

Okay, I warned you 🙂

We had two really good tour guides: Peg & Larry (he was a bit of a clown) – both seemed to really like their jobs at Epcot.

When I made the reservations, the CM was very clear that we had to be there before 8:00 a.m. and that the tour started at 8:15 a.m.; if we weren’t checked in and signed off before 8:00, the tour would start without us. Well, Nick is a bit of a stickler for rules (so am I); we arrived at the Guest Relations next to Spaceship Earth at 7:40. They didn’t give us any papers to sign until nearly 8:00 and the other guests got there at 8:15. Nick noticed that the CM handling all the tours that morning had 8:30 on his sheet as the start time.

What the heck?! Oh well….

The tour began with a video, then training on riding the Segway X2-PTS (I think I have that right, PTS = Personal Transportation System) inside one of the rooms that was used for Epcot’s 25th Anniversary displays. It was a bit nerve-racking and odd at the start – they’re not as immediately intuitive as you might think. I ran over a few cones. But, we both managed to get the hang of it. Although it seemed that there was enough equipment for the tour to handle 15 or so, there were only 5 of us plus Peg & Larry.

We left the area right behind Club Cool and rode the Segways to a backstage area between the Imagination Pavilion and the Land Pavilion.

Briefly,

  • rode Soarin’ after entering through a backdoor,
    • ah ha! now we know how they get celebrities into Soarin’ so quickly, quietly, and easily,
  • rode the Segways around backstage (on pavement and off pavement),
    • saw a lot of shipping containers where they store equipment, saw a lot of extra greenhouses in the back where they stage plant materials,
  • saw some cool stuff behind the Land,
    • including a submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea & a Jungle Cruise boat – neither in use anymore – they’re held here for use as props during special events inside Epcot
  • did about 20% of the Behind the Seeds Tour with another CM (Emily),
    • I did the full tour in March of 2009, I was a bit surprised when we only did such a little bit of the tour & it didn’t really “meld” into the whole idea of “Nature Inspired Design”
  • rode the Segways a bit more backstage,
    • saw an old helipad
    • saw a staging area for plant materials used in Epcot, including trees planted *just in case* something happens to one of the on-stage trees
    • saw a holding reservoir (built in case they ever have to empty out the Living Seas aquarium really quickly and hold some of the marine life there in an emergency situation)
  • saw some cool stuff behind the Living Seas,
    • see above, plus we saw the holding tank for when the filters are backwashed
  • were met by another CM (Susan from SC) & went inside the LS,
    • she talked about design!
    • example: the shapes inside the Living Seas and the colors used are designed to make you think you’re in an underwater research station
    • example: the Living Seas has won architectural awards based on its design and functionality
    • example: the curved glass (actually acrylic) inside the LS is held in place by water pressure
  • went back outside & over to the “Life Support” area for the LS & met another CM (Bill),
    • learned about how they control the water inside the huge aquarium, Bill was very engaging and engineering-ly excited about what he does
    • they can process the 5,000,000 gallons of salt water contained in the LS aquarium & filter system in 2 hours and 40 minutes
    • the managers can control the valves, filters, outflow, etc… from anywhere in the world with the computer system (kinda surprising when you consider how woefully dim-bulbed some of WDW’s IT stuff is)
  • rode the segways a bit more, and returned to our starting point.

Tidbits – –

  • part of the fee for this tour goes to the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund (not a bad charity source, just that they don’t tell you that before you go on the tour),
  • you do not get a customized trading pin at this point in time, you get a “The Seas with Nemo & Friends” DWCF pin

Complaint – –

  • only one real complaint (keep in mind that we haven’t done any other organized tours at WDW yet)
    • the storytelling was not cohesive;
      • from the title and what I had read online, we expected the tour to be more about the DESIGN of Future World attractions at Epcot;
      • it wasn’t, it was really about maintaining the artificial environments for both the plants (at the Land) and the animals (at the Living Seas) –
      • while this is a fine thing to do on a tour, the title is a bit misleading, maybe it should be called “managing nature segway tour”? or something else

Would we do it again? – probably, but not necessarily anytime soon

Would we buy our own Segways? – nah, it’s cheaper and easier to just pay to go on tours where you can ride them PLUS we can’t really see how they’d be of any use in day to day life; especially given that several municipalities have banned them

Thanks for reading

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