Tag Archives: Epcot

Staying Cool in Epcot

Summertime in Florida is HOT! And HUMID! Keeping comfortable at WDW in summer is a challenge. I have covered Magic Kingdom in an earlier article (Places to Rest In Magic Kingdom). Today, we will focus on Epcot.

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First, I recommend a midday siesta or pool break during the heat of the day if you are staying on site. You escape not only the hottest, but the busiest time of day. The mugginess often begins early and drags on till late in the evening. So, even with a siesta, finding cool places to rest are still important.

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The universe of energy is a great place to cool down!
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The Land is also a cool, air-conditioned place.

Finding a cool spot is actually not the hard in Future World, as pretty much everything is indoors and wonderfully air-conditioned. There are not a lot of places to sit down and actually rest, though. Ellen’s Universe of Energy is maybe the best spot to cool down. This attraction offers over a half hour of seated AC. Many people find the ride outdated, but I enjoy it. That said, it is a one the best places in all of WDW to catch a nap. The Land Pavilion is as a whole a great cool down spot. Seasons restaurant is one of the best quick service restaurants with a large, diverse menu. Grab a bite, find a table, cool down, and rest your legs. While you are there, Living with the Land and Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable are great places to rest. Living with the Land is a wonderful, educational boat ride about agriculture; Circle of Life is a movie starring Pumbaa and Timon from “The Lion King.” It is mildly entertaining, but has seats and AC with no wait. Club Cool offers free, cold international soda samples, like the wildly popular Beverly,  inside climate control for a quick refreshment. Some of the flavors are good; others, not so much.

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Try the famous Beverly drink. You won’t be disappointed.

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Kids enjoy the spray stations. If you are  okay with getting wet, adults can partake, too.  There is one near Test Track and another between Future World and the World Showcase.

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The interior of the Mexico pavilion is cool, and often not very crowded.

America-Pavilion

The World Showcase offers less options. Most of us wander form pavilion to pavilion and spend a lot of time outside. Pretty much all of the quick service and snack options have outdoor seating only. The food and beverages are a large reason why Epcot is so popular. One obvious option is to actually go into the stores and shop. Some of us are not natural shoppers, but you do what you have to do to get comfortable. If you do not like shopping, there are still some options. Inside the Mayan pyramid of the Mexico pavilion you will find shops, crafts, a tequila bar, and table service restaurant. It also houses The Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Cabelleros.   This boat ride will keep you comfortably climate controlled and off of your feet. It is an entertaining break, too. With the demise of Maelstrom and upcoming Frozen ride, likely with long lines, Norway no longer offers a good option. The China pavilion has an indoor show, ‘Reflections of China’ which rarely has a wait. As you are passing the African Outpost, pull open the lid of the cooler for a refreshing treat. Go ahead. It’s okay. In the American Adventure, there is a great show aptly named “The American Adventure” which will give you nearly 30 minutes of AC and comfortable seating. The show is educational, entertaining, and patriotic. ‘Impressions of France’ is an outdated movie in the France pavilion; but there is rarely a line, it is in AC, and the seats are comfy.’ O’ Canada’ in the Canada pavilion, hosted by Martin Short, is the best video log of any country, but you have to stand.

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Try and spot the hidden Mickey in this photo

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Enjoy your day at Epcot! Even in the heat, and humidity of summer in central Florida, you can stay comfortable. Remember these spots as you traverse the park, and it will be a little easier.

Pongo (dad)

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June 12, 2015: Weekly Disney News Roundup

*  Disney now states that MagicBand+ will not be coming to Disneyland in Anaheim anytime soon.  They say it doesn’t fit the demographics with most guests being local or staying off property.

*  The new Starbucks in Animal Kingdom will open on June18 in the prior location of Creature Comforts on Discovery Island.

*  Frozen Summer Fun at Hollywood Studios will return on July 17 featuring Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf.

*  The animated short, ‘Frozen Fever‘ will be shown in the ABC Sound Studio at Hollywood Studios twice every hour from 10 a.m till closing starting on June 17 and running through September 7.

*  Registration for Star Wars Half Marathon will open on June 16, 2015.  The race is held on January 17, 1016 at Disneyland in California.

*  New merchandise is now available in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure.

*  A world class lounge from Los Angeles will be opening a sister location in 2016 at Disney Springs  in WDW to be called ‘The Edison’ .  It will feature American food, craft cocktails, live cabaret and live music.

*  Tokyo DisneySea‘s 15th anniversary will be celebrated from April 15, 2016 through March 17,2017 with “The Year of Wishes,” and will feature a new harbor show called “Crystal Wishes Journey,” an updated Big Band Beat, and a new projection show in the Hangar Stage in Lost River Delta.

*  Mickey‘s Backyard BBQ at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground at WDW has expanded from 2 to 4 days per week.

*  Walt Disney Animation Studios has released a trailer for the film ‘Zootopia‘ which is be released next.  It looks promising!

*  A preview for ‘Frozen Ever After,” the attraction set to replace Maelstrom in the Epcot Norway pavilion has been released.  I miss Maelstrom.

*  DisneyXD will premiere ‘Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything’ on Wednesday, July 22.  Cameron Boyce of Disney Channel‘s ‘Jessie will star.

WDW Healthy Snacks

Long days at WDW, while fun, can leave you tired and hungry.  There are a plethora of options for snacks available seemingly around every turn.  Healthy options are harder to find, though.  If you don’t pay attention, a trip to WDW can make your comfy jeans fit like skinny jeans.  I offer a guide  for those of us who have a medical condition (hypertension, diabetes, arteriosclerosis), do not want to loosen our belts, and/or just want to eat healthy.

First, let me explain what I mean by “healthy.”  Nutritional guidelines seem to stay in a state of flux.  Current general consensus recommends limiting salt, refined sugars, and processed foods, while consuming more “whole foods:”  fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy, eggs, and non-processed meats.  While each of my suggestions may not fit all of these criteria, I will try to follow remain fairly close.  In addition, to me, the calorie content should not be extreme.

The “Disciple’s Prayer” from the Bible states, “Lead us not into temptation.”  While not referring to food, it is still good advice.  Just as someone trying to quit smoking should avoid contact with cigarette smoke; those of us trying to watch our diet should try to avoid surrounding ourselves with the sights and smells that will tempt us.  Healthy snacks can be found scattered all over the parks,.. right next to sweets, pastries, and other temptations.  Fortunately, without too much effort, temptation can be avoided.

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The best park options, where you are surrounded by healthy choices with minimal temptations, are at the marketplaces.  There are options that are natural, non processed, and relatively low calorie; mostly fruit.  Each location has similar offerings:  fruit (apples, grapes, oranges, pineapple, watermelon and bananas), pickles (high in salt, though), trail mix, and yogurt.  In addition to these staples, each marketplace offers 1 or 2 things unique to it:  cheese, clementines, tomato bisque.  In Magic Kingdom, if you are on the Tomorrowland/Fantasyland side of the park, then Prince Eric’s Village Market is the nearest option, located across from Ariel’s Grotto in New Fantasyland.  On the Adventureland/Frontierland side of the Magic Kingdom, Liberty Square Market is the closest.  In Hollywood Studios, Anaheim Produce on Sunset Boulevard is your choice.  In Animal Kingdom, it is the Harambe Fruit Market in Africa.  Surprisingly, Epcot does not have a market.  You can find similar options scattered on treat carts, though.

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Even though you may love fruit, being on vacation, there are times that you may desire something more decadent, more savory than fruit.  I have those times covered, too.  Starbucks are now located in each WDW park:  Main St. Bakery in Magic Kingdom, Fountain View in Epcot, Trolley Car Cafe’ in Hollywood Studios, and Creature Comforts in Animal Kingdom.  Please allow me to state that most of the options at Starbucks are sugar/calorie laden diet busters.  I do not personally like coffee, but there is one viable option that I consider as more of desert or sweet treat:  the “skinny” latte’.  Any latte’ (vanilla, mocha, pumpkin spice,..) can be made “skinny.”  They are made with coffee (caff, half-caff, or decaf), whipped skim milk, and sugar free flavoring.  A Grande’ (medium) has only 150 calories!  Not bad for a sweet treat.There are still more options!  The famous pineapple DoleWhip has only 80 calories per half cup!  It will not blow your diet!  It is high in sugar, but still not bad.  The DoleWhip is available in Magic Kingdom at Aloha Island in Adventureland.  Epcot has several choices.  La Boulangerie Patisserie des Halles in the France pavilion has Bisque de Homard (lobster bisque), fromages (cheese plate), and Pissaladiere (olives, tomatoes, and cheese).  Tangerine Cafe’ in the Morocco pavilion offers hummus, couscous salad, lentil salad, tabouleh, and marinated olives.  In the Norway pavilion, Krigla Bakeria og Cafe’ has sugar free chocolate mousse.  les halles epcot

So, while WDW vacation can make eating healthy more challenging, it is not impossible.  Please note below specific illness considerations.

** For diabetes:  pineapple, bananas, watermelon, and DoleWhips are loaded with sugar.

**For hypertension and/or edema:  pickles, trail mix, olives, cheese, soups, and salads can be high in sodium.

Pongo:  working husband, father, and Disney-phile.  

I hope that you find these recommendations helpful.  Any comments and/or further suggestions are welcome.  If you would like to read more articles from us, then click on the “Follow” tab and each new article will be emailed to you.

June 5, 2015: Weekly Disney News Roundup

***Second Star to the Right Disney Blog will be undergoing fairly major changes this weekend.  We are changing our name  and we are changing our theme to more of a magazine based format.  Our articles, the News Roundup, and Weekly poll will all remain the same, but hopefully in a more attractive, user friendly format.  We hope that you follow us through this transition***

*  Disney and the NBA are developing a new attraction for Disney Springs at WDW to be called the “NBA Experience at Walt Disney World.”  It will offer hands on interactive experiences to help bring the game to life.

*  WDW is testing new pricing on Rapid Refill Mugs at Pop Century, the All Star Resorts, and Port Orleans-Riverside.  There will no longer be 1,2, or 3 day options, only the length of stay option.  The price of the length of stay option has been decreased from $17.99 to 16.49 (plus tax).  It is anticipated that this will be employed at all WDW resorts later this year.

*  The 2015 Epcot Food and Wine Festival  will have a new experience for this fall:  Remy’s Ratatouille Hide & Squeak Scavenger Hunt.  Special maps will be given to lead you through the World Showcase in search of hidden Remy statues.

*  Epcot is now showing sneak peaks of Disney/Pixar‘s ‘Inside Out’ at the Imagination pavilion, former home of Captain Eo.

*  New DVC member merchandise can be purchased at DisneyStore.com.

*  The Emotions from the upcoming Disney/Pixar movie ‘Inside Out’ will precede the Pixar Play Parade at Disney California Adventure beginning on June 19.

*  Harambe Market in the Africa area of Animal Kingdom is now open.

*  The annual attendance report from the Themed Entertainment Association shows that Disney parks are the 6 busiest parks in the U.S.: 1. Magic Kingdom 2.  Disneyland  3. Epcot  4. Animal Kingdom  5. Hollywood Studios  6. California Adventure.  Attendance rose from 2%(Animal Kingdom) up to 4% (Magic Kingdom).  Universal Studios Orlando followed at #8, but had an attendance increase of 17%.

*  The D23 Expo 2015, at the Anaheim Convention Center, will feature a new concert, Silly Symphony Celebration, on Sunday August 23 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  It will feature a 32 piece band playing songs from the Silly Symphonies while showing clips from the shorts.

*  Disney Channel has announced that a new series based on “Tangled” and with the voice talents from the movie (including Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi) will premiere in 2017.

*  Disney will be making a live-action film based on the ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ scene from “Fantasia.”

*  Tron 3 has been canceled.

*  In October, Disney will release a new high-tech toy, Playmation, that is somewhat different in that it hopes to get kids away from the computer and out moving about.

5 Time-Saving Tips for Walt Disney World

5 Time-Saving Tips for Walt Disney World (1st of a 2-part article)-

1)  Stay at a resort where minimal time is spent going to and from parks-Unknown-1

This usually means less bus transportation.  Choose the quickest transportation options if you have a choice of more than one. An example is  The Beach Club (see my earlier article about The Beach Club) where you can walk to Epcot, take The Friendship Boats to Hollywood Studios and buses to the other 2 parks.  The walk to Epcot is about 5 minutes and the boat ride to Hollywood Studios is about 15.  You can walk home from Hollywood Studios, but this is only viable if the lines are incredibly long for the Friendship Boat.

Another good example is staying at The Bay Lake Tower (I wrote about this resort earlier, too) which is my favorite resort. If you stay here, you can walk to Magic Kingdom.  You can take the monorail to either Magic Kingdom or Epcot. Many times the line for the monorail is so long that it is much quicker to walk to Magic Kingdom. It is less than a 10 minute walk.

Staying at The Grand Floridian (which I will review soon) presents other choices. You can take the monorail to Magic Kingdom or a boat. Take the monorail. You take the monorail to Epcot.

I realize the majority of resorts at Walt Disney World only offer bus transportation to get to and from the parks. Some people tell me it is quicker to drive to the parks (if you have your car obviously) than to take the buses. This is why some people want to stay at the Old Key West resort. You can park next to your room there.

Try to choose a resort with easy access, either on foot, by monorail, friendship, or bus to the park where you plan to spend most of your time.  This will cut down on travel time, which can be rather long.  In general, the Epcot resorts will have the easiest access to Epcot and Hollywood Studios; Magic Kingdom Resorts to Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom Lodge to Animal Kingdom.Unknown

2)  Use Extra Magic Hours

Guests staying on Disney property are treated to Extra Magic Hours during which one of the parks either opens an hour early or stays open up to 3 hours late for these guests only.  This varies by the season and the day of the week. A schedule is available at every resort.  This is one of the biggest perks to staying on-sight, but there are others such as using all of the transportation options.  The wait times for e-ticket rides (rides with the longest waits) are minimal with morning Extra Magic Hours.  You can almost walk directly onto rides like Rock n’ Rollercoaster, Expedition Everest, Toy Story Midway Mania, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Soarin’.  Getting these rides done early allows for extra time and a relaxed pace later in the day.  For night time Extra Magic Hours, the lines shorten as it gets later and by the end of the night, you can often almost walk onto the e-ticket rides.

3)  Use the FastPass+ for your must-do’s but then go to the attractions with short wait times (reference earlier article) to fill in the rest of your time-

The attractions with short wait times are actually more enjoyable to me at times than the attractions requiring a FastPass. There are so many options. I wrote about some earlier.  Two that I mentioned are The Carousel of Progress and Philharmagic. These are both quality entertainment, don’t require a FastPass, and usually have a minimal wait.images

4)  If you can’t make it to the park with that day’s morning Extra Magic Hours until after they are over, then skip it and go to another park. The park with the morning Extra Magic Hours is usually the busiest throughout the morning and afternoon; sometimes until park closing.  You will have longer wait times.

5)  If you want to see one of the Magic Kingdom parades, don’t sit for an hour on the curb trying to get just the right seat on Main Street.   You can see very well from other locations along the parade route, and you can avoid getting caught in the traffic when the parade is over.Unknown-2

More tips are coming in Part 2 of the article.  Your input is appreciated.  Please leave comments.  If you would like more Disney information, then click “follow” and receive emails of each of our articles.

Elaine (Perdita) – Mom, wife, Disney addict.

Neverland2001: Disney Question of the Week for May 30, 2015.

First, the results to last week’s question, “Which is Your Favorite Disney Park?”  We would like thank everyone who voted.

Magic Kingdom       39%

Epcot           28%

Disneyland CA         17%

California Adventure   11%

Hollywood Studios     5%

All others                     0%

***Magic Kingdom is the Winner! ****  I expected this, but I am surprised how close Epcot was.  Epcot held the lead for much of the week.

The question for this week is designed to help us choose topics on which to write.   We hope to be able to inform, entertain, and be a resource for you.  We recently had a request for more information on the DVC.  Your feedback will help us be a better resource.  If I have set the poll up correctly (certainly not a given), then you should be able to choose as many options as you like, and, you should be able to add your own.  More specific comments and suggestions in the comments secton will be greatly appreciated.

May 29, 2015: Weekly Disney News Roundup

*  Duke Energy is going to build a solar farm in Orlando, Florida, near WDW, in the shape of a Mickey head.

*  Magic Kingdom‘s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will feature a new show in front of Cinderella Castle this fall called the “Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular,”  hosted by the Sanderson sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus.”

*  Disneyland has released new Made With Magic merchandise for it’s Diamond Celebration including a new Mickey ears hat with the Diamond Celebration pattern on it and a paintbrush with light up functions.

*  Epcot will soon be offering a new tour called ‘World Showcase Destinations Discovered.”  It will be a 5 hour walking tour through and backstage at the World Showcase pavilions.  It will include a lunch and a cultural demonstration.  The cost will be $109 dollars per person.  (Ouch!!)

*  The Harambe Marketplace at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has now opened.

*  Guests to Animal Kingdom can now see several new baby animals including sable antelope and white rhinos.

*  This fall, to help celebrate it’s 10th anniversary, Raglan Road restaurant in Disney Springs at WDW will host a Raglan Road Master Chef Contest.

*  Disney is working on building robots that walk and move like cartoon characters for the parks.

*  The Walt Disney Company announced this week that it will be expanding the use of the MagicBands technology in WDW.  What this means was not announced.

*  DVC resorts will soon be updating their laundry rooms with new “high tech” laundry equipment as well a mobile website to check on washer/dryer availability.

*  The Drew Brees Passing Academy is returning to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at WDW this summer featuring other NFL stars and 20 or more prep football teams from around the country.

*  For a “nominal fee” ($35 per adult to be exact), DVC members can view the Magic Kingdom‘s Independence Day eve fireworks display from the convention center Port Cochere of Disney’s Contemporary Resort.  The “DVC Independence Day Dessert Party” will include an delectable array of desserts, a cash bar and performances by the Dapper Dans and the Dixieland Band.

*  The Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise will sailing to Alaska this year.  Check members services for details.

*  “Teen Beach 2” is to be released on DVD on June 26.

*  “Tomorrowland” brings in a lackluster $40 million on it’s opening weekend.

5 Overlooked Attractions at Walt Disney World –

1) The Magic of Disney Animation– This is an interactive drawing class led by a Disney artist. Guests learn step-by-step instructions on how to draw a Disney character. You never know which character you will draw, so it is fun to do the class each time you visit WDW. The class takes 30 minutes and you get to take home your art. This is located in Hollywood Studios.Unknown 2) Living With the Land– A relaxing 13-minute boat ride that takes you on an informative journey through a tropical rain forest, a desert complete with sandstorm, and the plains of a small farm. Guests learn about Hydroponics, Aeroponics and Aquaculture. You see many plants with unusual fruits and veggies, and fish farms are also on display. The educational part of this boat ride is geared towards adults, but younger guests will love it also and enjoy spotting the different fruits and vegetables. This is located in Future World at Epcot.Unknown-1 3) One Man’s Dream– This is a tribute to the “Man behind the Magic”. It is a self-guided walking tour that will take you through a series of exhibits including: scaled replicas, photographs, audio interviews and memorabilia that tell the story of Walt Disney. There are over 400 artifacts on display such as models of Main Street U.S.A. from Disneyland, scaled replicas of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle from Disneyland, scaled models of Animal Kingdom and others. There is a re-creation of Walt’s old office, his 2nd grade desk, and even an Academy Award from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on display. This is located in Hollywood Studios.Unknown-3 4)Outdoor entertainment at Epcot- There are a wide variety of performers that are located mostly in World Showcase, with The Jammin’ Jammitors being the exception (they perform a percussion show that is not to be missed in Future World). Each country hosts different acts that perform on a schedule that can be picked up at the park entrance. Just a couple of examples are: Mariachi Cobre at the Mexico Pavilion, the Canadian Lumberjacks at the Canada Pavilion, andThe British Revolution at the United Kingdom Pavilion which are all three band performances.) There are also many other types of entertainment such as Serveur Amusant at the France Pavilion (a very skilled performer balances on chairs stacked seemingly into the clouds. Just kidding, but he does go pretty high!), Taiko Drummers at the Japan Pavilion, Sergio the juggler at the Italy Pavilion, and many more. 5)Flights of Wonder– Several times a day in the Asian area at Animal Kingdom, the Flights of Wonder are performed. The shows are about 25 minutes long and feature over 20 species of exotic birds, including Harris hawks, Barbary falcons, macaws, ibis and yellow-naped Amazon parrots. The show features free-flying birds performing stunts with the trainers auditory cues to guide them. There is also some comedy thrown in that makes the show even better.

Neverland2001: Disney Question of the Week

We are adding something new to our blog.  Each week we will be asking a question or questions.  It may be an opinion poll, a trivia quiz, or survey question.  I hope you enjoy!  Feel free to leave comments

Disney Parks Tip: The Single Rider Line

Some rides at Disneyland and Walt Disney World offer single rider lines. For the single rider line, you have to be okay with being seated where-ever there is a space. You will not be seated with anyone else from your party When there is an empty seat on a ride such as when there is a party of 3 on a ride with 2 seats per row, you are seated in the seat next to third member of that party. It is a great way to decrease wait time, if you don’t mind riding “alone.” The reason to do this is to cut your wait time. In general, I have found that you can usually cut your wait time compared to the stand-by line by 1/2 to 1/3.

The California parks employ this on more rides; so, we will start there. Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones Adventures, and Matterhorn Bobsleds in Disneyland, and Soarin’ over California, Radiator Springs Racers, Grizzly River Rapids Goofy’s Fly School, and California Screamin’ all have this option. Radiator Springs Racers has an obvious labeled line to enter. For the other rides, you will need to ask the cast member at the beginning of the queue. We used it on Radiator Springs Racers, Indiana Jones and California Screamin’. The first two were simple. California Screamin’ involved stairs and elevators and was confusing, but still cut our wait time drastically. imageimage

In Walt Disney World, the single rider line is available on Test Track in Epcot, Rock n’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios, and Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. The lines to Test Track and Rock n’ Roller Coaster are pretty obvious and easy to find. The Expedition Everest line is a little removed from the stand-by and fastpass queues. If you don’t see it, ask a cast member. We have used it on all of these several times. Since these are rides with some of the longest wait times, it really can save you quite a bit of time.image

The International Disney Parks have this option, too. Someday I hope to use these.
Walt Disney Studios Park at Disneyland Paris: Crush’s Coaster, Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, RC Racers, and Ratatouille.
Tokyo Disneyland: Splash Mountain.
Tokyo DisneySea: Indiana Jones Adventures, and Raging Spirits.
Hong Kong Disneyland: Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Car, Splash Mountain, and Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop.

Here are some ideas of when this could be useful: If no one else in your group likes thrill rides, but you are busting for some excitement; if everyone else is tired; if younger members (or older ones I guess) are waiting in a long character meet and greet line; if you have already seen the parade or fireworks. The list could go on. I wish that this option was available on more rides with long waits, but I will take what I can get. So, if you don’t have a fastpass and you want to ride one of the above named attractions, but not spend the entire day waiting in line, then think “single rider line.”