Friday, January 13, 2006
Day 4 - Epcot
LOVED THIS DAY! We parked in a front parking space, right next to the handicapped parking! We were at the beginning of the line and ready to go! We started asking for help with our map while standing at the ropes (because I was TOTALLY out of my bearings and the map is not even close to being to-scale.) As soon as the ropes fell, we joined several other very excited tourists as we were escorted by cast members to Test Track "We" actually did not include Donna because she volunteered to get the FPs for Soarin. She had said this was not her favorite ride and was easily skippable by her standards. Therefore, we assumed it would be a one-time deal for us, too. W-R-O-N-G-O! We loved it! We had to tweak our plans to add in a few more trips around the track because it was sooo fun! We also learned the BEAUTY of the "single rider" lane. We noticed it when Donnie was serving as volunteer stroller/baby-sitter. Instead of sending him back up with a Parent Swap (and a couple of kids) we decided to hurry him through by sending him to the single rider line. WAAAAAAAAAAY faster than even the FP/PS deal. Amazing. I don't know why more people didn't take advantage of it. ESPECIALLY teenagers... There is zero wait there.
After TT, we had a little time before Soarin so we went to The Living Seas attraction. Really neat. Of course there was the GIGANTIC aquarium where we saw stingrays and sharks (couldn't find the dolphins and were told they sometimes would hide when it wasn't show time. Hmm.) But the really cool thing was something I didn't really expect to be all that great. The Turtle Talk With Crush was a showcase of AMAZING interactive technology. I was pretty impressed. And I'm SO thankful we followed TGM's advice for this show (see the 1st or 2nd show only) because as cool as it was, I would NOT want to wait an hour or more to see it.
Next we made our way over (after my almost leading everyone astray. It took me a LONG time to get my bearings of this huge place) to Soarin. I want to link it again because it was TRULY astonishing. I was a little nervous about it because it's a virtual reality ride. I have a history of being car-sick with some VR rides but NOT with this one. It was breathtaking. I swear it felt like flying over California in a hang-glider. The real thing could not have been too different. And the technology is so advanced that motion-sickness wasn't even close to being an issue. We rode it numerous times.
AND we found a Hidden Mickey there!
After these thrillers we started the first half of our "World Showcase" tour. First stop. Norway. Nice little viking ride there that actually DID catch us off guard for a second. Next was the extremely...uh...GENTLE (yes, that's a polite word) boat ride in Mexico. Our lunch also came from Meh-hee-ko and it was yummmmmm yum. At the table I was able to layout our schedule for the rest of the afternoon. We would be hopping from one country to another but if we followed the Times Guide just right, we'd be able to see everything we wanted.
However, that was IF everything ran on schedule. Unfortunately, it did not. The comedy troupe in England was very funny (kids were spellbound) but very late. I wasn't sure how to arrange around this hiccup because we really wanted to see it and thought we could just skip an act or two and get back on schedule. Well...the juggler from Italy decided to take the day off but didn't realize it until he never showed up. We had asked two separate cast members where he would perform and they didn't say, "He's not here today." Oh well.
In an effort to regain scheduling plans, we walked over to the United States. There we were able to be involved in a very patriotic moment, including saying the Pledge of Allegiance with our children leading the way. Very cool.
The U.S. also has an American Showcase show that I found very moving and uplifting. It was very patriotic and educational and not at all boring. I don't think everyone in the party found it as entertaining as me (and Shayne) though.
We ended up having to scrap all other World Showcase performances for time constraints. I was a little bummed by that and wished we had scheduled an extra day here. Live and learn.
Another really neat highlight to our day was Shayne being chosen as a volunteer for the Kodak (ultra-commercial) scientist of the year award. This was in the Imagination attraction. Isn't she adorable?
We had dinner reservations at the Garden Grill as part of our Candlelight Processional Reservations Package. This experience was one of the biggest highlights of our entire trip! We ate at this ultra-cool restaurant that revolves through The Land. Therefore our scenery was great.
And the food...ohmy...
We ate and we ate and we ate and we ate. The restaurant doesn't take your orders, they just bring the menu to your table and serve you 'family style.' That means they bring MOUNDS of food and you serve yourself. We had steak, turkey (YUM), catfish, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry sauce, and corn. The kids had chicken fingers and macaroni-n-cheese. And if the bottomless platters weren't enough, they loaded us up with desserts richer than your wildest imaginations. The kids were able to decorate their own cupcakes (and with the cutest little Mickey sprinkles!) We needed a wheelbarrow to get us out of there!
And that's only PART of our enjoyment. This restaurant was more than just good food. It was a spectacular meeting place for Characters. Chip and Dale and Mickey and Pluto walked from table to table and spent a lonnnng time with each family posing for pictures and hugging the kids. It was priceless. We give uber thumbs up to Pluto. He spent a LOT of time with us.
After dinner, we took a leisurely walk back towards the World Showcase for our Candlelight Processional. We needed the walk for sure!
The Candlelight Processional is the only Disney event I know about (and I'll be the first to admit I don't know everything) that has an openly Christian theme. Church choirs from around the country are invited to perform during this program and all of the music was deeply spiritual and religious (save a Frosty the Snowman or similar during the orchestra's pre-show concert.) Disney's upper crust singers are in this program, too (supposedly the Liberty Singers are the most sought-after positions in the entire resort) and BOY CAN THEY SING! The music was just incredibly powerful and inspirational. And to top THAT off, Steven Curtis-Chapman read the bible story to us, STRAIGHT FROM THE BIBLE! It was really awesome. A must-see.
Lastly, we did some scrambling from the World Showcase back to Test Track for one more ride and then a mad dash back to China where we met up with Donna and Nathan for Epcot's famous fireworks and laser show. It was impressive but I do have to question why Epcot loves their TV globe so much. I didn't think it was all that great. I guess Sylvania is paying for the advertisement or something.
The worst part of the day came at the end. The traffic. Ohmygosh...
The park closes at 9. We took TGM's advice to hang back and not get in the mad dash for the door. I don't know if that was the best plan or not. With our front parking spot, being the last out of the park LITERALLY MEANT BEING LAST OUT OF THE PARK! By the time we were in our van (maybe at 9:30??) we realized we had made a huge mistake. How the heck to get out of that park?
We got desperate after seeing ZERO MOVEMENT for 30 minutes and made a mad dash for a non-exit. We got yelled at by a cast member but avoided him (and thankfully, a police chase) and melted into the bumper-to-bumper. It was after 11 when we got back to the condo (a drive that should have taken no more than 10 minutes!)
The kids were zonked in the car, of course. We had to lug them upstairs one at a time. David was the first one in. He didn't even make it to the bedroom.
Only 2 more days of our trip. Hope you're not bored to tears yet! To be continued...