It's getting closer. I was at my local GC just the other day to get some strings I ordered online and they were taking customers in by appointment. Another store I had bought my recent guitar let me in to play, but a week earlier I had to try them out in the parking lot behind the building which was a weird feeling. I would have waited but my current guitar at the time needed repairs and technicians were back logged for weeks and I didn't want to go that long without playing.
As for being intimidated as a beginner, I understand cause I felt the same way, but I felt good enough in things I had learned to that point that I felt more at ease once I sat down and started playing. Trust me they've heard it all. Just let them know where your abilities are at and what you are looking for and they will point you in the right direction without any attitude and if they do well there are other stores that will take your business. When you go bring a tuner, picks and a capo. I was lucky that the salesman who helped me tuned the guitars I was trying, but bring one just in case if you can. Pretty much all the guitars hangin on the wall will have crappy strings and be way out of tune so bear that in mind when you play them.
Whatever ability your playing is at you should at least know certain things about guitars that will let them know your not too rank of a beginner.
You want to look for solid spruce or mahogany tops. If it's solid all around your in another price point, but at least make sure top is solid wood. Sitka spruce gives a bright tone where mahogany is warmer. Know the difference sizes too like dreadnaught, grand auditorium, concert, things like that. This way they'll at least know you've done some research and that while your playing might indicate your a beginner you at least know what your talking about and not a complete noob to be swayed in any direction. You mentioned Taylor Acadamy Series so your probably in the same budget as I was. Those are great guitars by the way but I just didn't find them visually appealing. Find something you really love the look of and will want to play it everyday.
Good luck and enjoy the process.
Fun side note:
While my salesman was finalizing my purchase he let me try out a Taylor 814. I told him I needed to know what a $2200 acoustic guitar sounded like and he jokingly said you'll know the first chord you make and boy he wasn't kidding. The clarity and fullness of the tone was amazing. Not that what I got was junk, but I've listened to enough acoustics that you develop an ear for it after a while. Will be looking at those in the future, but at over 2 grand I better be able to play like Clapton.
Make sure you take pics and share them with us when you finally get one.