Although we were near dead the night before, the first day of EPCOT on our park clumped vacation inspired another early rising. It was a little slow getting everything together after plopping and dropping. We made a bus that got us there shortly after park opening. The driver was out of the transportation cards but had reams of stickers, like everyone else. I started to wonder if one could swim in little round Disney adhesives.
Some grandparents from Pennsylvania were the first of many to favorably comment on my Lone Ranger shirt. I can only assume its desire to return caused it to forcibly knock the Tron shirt it replaced on the roster off the hanger. Then it made sure to keep it in the back of the closet until the next calendar year.
They also commented, though unfavorably, on the ill-behaved child sharing the bus with us who was threatening (and occasionally attempting) to kick everyone. Free speech rights get expanded as a perk of being old. Their grandson was absolutely flabbergasted at the other kid’s behavior, which earned his family a parenting compliment from me.
The Soarin’ FastPass Plus was scheduled for the first hour of Park operation. The fact that we had no problem making it on our “late” day should be a strong indication of the kind of schedule we kept. The wait was only fifteen minutes, but we decided to use the pass anyway to start at a fast pace, as there wasn’t much else we needed them for in EPCOT. Anabelle took that idea literally and ran down the empty queue area to the loading point. Of course she did stop briefly to observe the obligatory moment of silence for the Kitchen Cabaret…
Cha. Cha. Cha.
Patrick Warburton demonstrated that he’s a perfect fit for the Disney mind set in the video that introduced the crazy awesome experience. We met a flip flop shod couple from California on the ride, who pointed out we could put our backpacks between rows if we couldn’t fit them into the undercarriage. (As opposed to other parks I could mention that forced the use of lockers *cough*Universal*cough*) I said, I’d rather squeeze it in as it preserved the realism of the journey. He liked that attitude, and my Aquaman Chuck Taylors. It was a very superhero friendly crowd in EPCOT that day.
One of the most immersive elements of Soarin’ is the scents:
They must have a heck of an air filtration system to keep the smells from overlapping during and after the ride…
Not to mention keeping the California aromas from being overwhelmed by sweaty Florida tourists.
When Soarin’ first opened, the Living with the Land boat ride had ultra-extended waits from the overflow. I guess the new people figured out that not only is it one of the last remnants of old “education before thrills” EPCOT, but also the least dynamic of those rides. It was a walk on that day, and almost any other day I’ve checked on line.
Well, except one day the website listed a two hour wait out of nowhere. That was the same day the small world showed a similar back log earlier. Apparently an army of slow boat fans descended on Walt’s Florida project.
The Character Spot had zero wait time, as it did throughout the entire vacation. Take that, people on the crazy long Goofy entrance line. We wasted our FastPass anyway, because it was fun using the Magic Bands, and sneaking in the secret entrance.
Filled with Mousely cheer, we continued the fun character trend in the Imagination Pavilion. The ride was exactly the same as it’s been since Figment came back. We don’t care, we love it, and we go on it multiple times on every trip.
And Rosa is surprised by the end “explosion” every time.
I noticed something new on this journey: the Medfield College and tennis shoe references around the computer room…cool!
The Imageworks Imagination Playground had been redone since our last adventures. Dad’s favorite musical conductor and the stepping sound images were still there, though. Thanks for not always losing the classics, EPCOT.
Deciding that she wanted to increase the rate my hair is falling out, Anabelle gave up on fairies and princesses to choose a green screen picture with the Disney Heroes, which were all boys. A retake was needed, he said feeling the draft on his head, because she needed to be nearer to Aladdin. Interestingly, though characters from underperforming films like Hercules still made the cut, the two “Prince Charmings” were not deemed heroic enough to join the team. Or perhaps it is impossible to photograph the “two” of them together.
The photo area was a little sad, with one section completely abandoned and forlorn. The capability of an entire Kodak film processing room had been replaced by a single laptop and printer.
The popularity of the Lone Ranger and superheroes in general continued in EPCOT. Yet another conversation of the decline of Disney Park shirt quality was cut short to allow us to catch the movie upstairs before our lunch reservation.
The creepy pens with Disney characters’ heads that popped out their shrunken bodies at the push of a button hastened our exit.
It was then time for my family’s first (and according to them, last) journey with Captain EO.
The pre-show video explained the time and idea of the film’s creation, but for people with no connection to American 80’s pop culture, it was a long strange trip. This was especially true of Anabelle, who had no idea what a Michael Jackson was.
Her review: “Kinda cool, but whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?”
Because it dates back to an earlier less throughput conscious era of Disney World, the film was longer than most new attractions. That didn’t really build up a line outside the joint though.
Somehow the combined Fever Dream of Jim Henson, Francis Ford Coppola, and George Lucas about an effeminate musical Power Ranger and his space plushies using dance to transform the robots of Angelica Huston as Mecha-Lolth didn’t click with modern audiences.
Crossing into World Showcase, I planned to use the PhotoPass folks to get our required picture at each country. Therefore, I suggested leaving the tripod at home to prevent us from carrying its extra weight on the EPCOT Death March around World Showcase Lagoon. The slight problem with the plan is there were barely any PhotoPass folks on that side of EPCOT. This guaranteed us a second EPCOT Death March two days later, tempting the curse of the past two second EPCOT Death Marches that turned me into a RAVING LUNATIC.
After our Duffy time we, and the family ahead of us on line, ran to Norway to make our Akershus Royal Banquet Hall lunch reservation. Honestly, if the Princess meal was further into World Showcase; we would plan better for it and not have to run every time.
The food, as always was amazing, with enough of a mix of Norwegian flavors to be interesting without being weird. Once our seating session was fully established, Belle could hit the coffee break room, and the parade of the other princesses began.
Cinderella came first, and continued the trend of rounder faced princesses. I’m not sure if that’s conscious style guide choices by Disney, or coincidence. She also looked kinda Latin…maybe the sun reflects strongly off her glass slippers and increases her tan.
The greetings were put on hold for the Princess Procession. Aurora passed back by our table, and selected the (participation pendulum back on the exuberantly happy to be picked side) birthday girl to walk with her at the head of her processing group. Once they returned, curtsying to all, the normal (if meeting beloved, well portrayed and heartwarming fantasy figures can be called normal) interactions continued with Ariel.
Rosa came up with an idea at this point. Instead of Anabelle merely telling their favorites that her equally princess happy cousins said, “Hello,” we could use the massive technology of the “internet in your pocket” SmartPhone, and get videos of the royal ladies returning their greetings.
Aurora was still loitering around our table after the procession. Rosa hopped up, phone in hand, and explained that our Aurora wasn’t with us this time. Their Aurora happily waved at the little electronic box and proclaimed a Disney greeting.
Snow White, or Apple Girl, as Veronica called her, was only a short distance away and looked to be heading back toward us. Unfortunately, she faked left, and then went right toward the coffee break room. I think she played running back for Florida State.
We explained what we’d done and planned to do to our waiter, and asked if Apple Girl could pass our table again when she came back out. He went to check with the handlers, while we took advantage of the delay. With the princess excitement, it was very easy to forget to eat the fantastical food.
I’m not sure if he misunderstood, or was following a scripted answer, but he let us know the Princesses were resting now and couldn’t come back out. We understood, thanked him, and asked him to sign Anabelle’s birthday card from the princesses. We always ask the wait staff to sign, because they’re Awesome Happy Disney People who add to the atmosphere and write cool things on the cards.
And in EPCOT, the cool things are in other languages.
The fact that Belle came out to greet the next crop of guests, and was very different looking than when we had met her (which I’d never seen before with a face character) was a pretty strong indication why Snow White wouldn’t pass by again. I guess Disney was highly protective of its magical plastic surgery ray.
Post ride we did stay for the movie. Its picturesque and informative nature took our attention partially away from the unpleasantly uncomfortable chairs.
Exiting into (yet again) the gift shop, let Anabelle get her coloring Duffy with which to collect stamps and birthday greetings around the world. Rosa picked out a Viking costume shirt because she said it was “me.” I can’t really argue with that. It was like shopping in the Big and Tall and Furry department.
Since Rosa and Anabelle were wearing their matching Grand Fiesta Tour shirts, we stepped half a country back to meet with Mariachi Donald. The ladies piled all the backpacks, cameras and other gear on to my head and flocked around El Pato Donald. Between the shirts, and the picture Anabelle colored for him, Donald was the happiest duck in a sombrero I’ve ever seen.
That probably isn’t saying much, but trust me, he was really happy.
On the way back out of Mexico, a large and weird bug bit Rosa under her Magic Band. No idea what it was as the evil little thing got mashed to bits under the band. It left a legacy of itching that had Rosa taking Benadryl for several days, no doubt enhancing the Disney color scheme.
With the Death March begun in earnest, we were checking show and character schedules around the lagoon. We had been brainwashed by our FastPass Plus and reservation times, and forgot that characters weren’t only there at the start of the posted times. We were half past China when we realized; “It’s only ten minutes later, Mulan’s probably still there.”
She was and Anabelle put another notch in her Princess belt. The girl in front of us on line asked the question I’ve complained about since they switched Mulan out of her armor and drafted her into the princesses to cover the Asian demographic.
“Why are you wearing the dress you hated in the movie?”
Because Happy Disney people are Awesome, she answered without missing a beat:
“Grandmother dressed me today.”
Only Mulan was there, Mushu stopped appearing with her prior to our last visit. They’d pretty much kicked all the male sidekicks or princes out of World Showcase. The princesses were all alone as a show of female strength, or perhaps narrow minded marketing. Only Aladdin remained, likely because in all fairness, it was his movie.
The lack of PhotoPass folks led to a crisis. Rosa’s Super Deluxe Magical Camera memory card was full, and the rest of them were in the big camera bag back behind the giant Play Doh Can. The backup SmartPhone camera filled in while she deleted doubles and blurry ones at great personal traumatic cost.
This signaled a drastic change in our evening planning procedure. The method of my collapsing into a death like sleep the moment we entered the room while Rosa packed for the next day, then waking up and double checking everything while she slept clearly wasn’t cutting it. Rosa and Anabelle took to pelting me with whatever was handy in the room to keep me awake until all preparations were complete.
We continued around the lagoon. There’s something I find incredibly relaxing about walking through World Showcase. Yes, I realize it is a strong indication of my lack of sanity and the pace we set in Disney that I consider a 1.2 mile walk incredibly relaxing. It’s one of the places I can simply “be” in Disney and enjoy the feeling. Main Street in the Magic Kingdom is like that too. Not on line, not in a show, not on a ride, just “being” in Disney.
Four years of high school German and I only knew one of those words without looking it up. I suck at languages.
Reaching the mid-way point around the lagoon, we just missed the start of the American Adventure Pavilion show. I asked the colonial Cast Member about the show length and ended up getting into yet another long Lone Ranger discussion with yet another fan who would have liked to see the film, but Disney lacked faith and pulled it from the theaters too soon.
(She mostly thought it was serenity…on the go Disney time can be stressful.)
Our Death March/Character Trail around World Showcase went way off plan, and I was deleting things all the way ‘round. Rosa and I held the place for the soon to be arriving Aladdin and Jasmine while Anabelle got one more stamp and an Arabic “Happy Birthday.” Their meeting location inside the lamp shop was new. That may explain why it generated the longest Disney line of the trip. Not that I’m complaining, because if I did that about a forty minute line, people who go any other time of year will call me a Disney Sissy. Anabelle had already met Jasmine in the Castle, but decided she really liked Aladdin now.
Oh look, there goes some more hair.
The Agrabah couple arrived, and true to usual for that park, Aladdin looked very Moroccan. Jasmine, on the other hand, was definitely a New Yorker, rendering an extra level of awesome on the experience. Al spent a couple minutes trying to unscrew Anabelle’s pen to sign the pink fluffy princess book, until Jasmine relieved him of it and clicked the cap.
Rosa looked at a red butterfly bracelet she planned to decide she didn’t like as much as she thought when we retuned in two days’time. That isn’t exactly how she worded it, but I’d played the game before.
The Duffy stamp was, of course, the first order of business in France. A French Cast Member absolutely LOVED my Lone Ranger shirt. Have I mentioned enough how badly Disney blew it by not trusting that film?
Having missed the American show, we were tired enough to try the Reflections of France Half a 360° Theater.
Rosa and Anabelle made silly faces next to the gargoyle with its tongue statue sticking out.
Anabelle said, “Did you know ‘oui’ means yes in French, and sometimes they say ‘wee-wee’.” This caused us to both collapse in hysterics.
The film was pretty and all, but honestly, I skip that track on the Disney Parks CDs almost every time. I think we all nodded off for some much needed rest. I don’t only mean our family, more than half the theater was yawning and stretching in surprise when the lights came up.
Because we were in EPCOT, a single cloud followed us over to England. I thought I was still groggy from the France movie because I heard “Crazy Train” coming from the bandstand. Apparently there was a group that replaced the Beatles cover band that played a wider and more awesome variety of British Tunes.
Inside the English section proper, Anabelle showed more self confidence by chatting to several of the British girls. She got a big kick in every country out of talking to the people from those lands and asking them questions. Mostly where the Duffy stamps were, but it was a start. I’m glad she had someone to talk to because between the swords that have always been there, and the new additions of Monty Python and Doctor Who swag, I was a tad distracted.
Green Lantern shirt and Kilt. He was step dancing mighty impressively along with the band. It took a bit to figure out that he wasn’t an Awesome Happy Disney Person, but an Awesome Disney Guest. The magic’s pretty contagious there.
Our personal rainstorm continued out of the clear blue sky, and followed us back into Future World and the final show of the day at the Energy Pavilion. The pre show woke her up, because Anabelle liked Bill Nye. He and Ellen were entertaining enough to make the fluff tolerable. Since she knew what to expect from the dinosaurs this time, and some of the loud effects and spitting looked to be broken, she thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
We noticed that Soarin’ had a fifteen minute wait all day long, with the exception of directly after we exited it, discouraging us from a second ride. The place is magical, not perfect.
Next door to energy was Mission Space, a necessity for us. It’s such a simple concept, yet executed incredibly well. Gary Sinese lent an air of sincerity that carried through the whole mission. A little shaking and some lights and buttons completed the illusion most impressively.
The option to not accidentally have a heart attack was once more very welcome. I decided a Barf Bag would be a nifty souvenir. I guess that’s why they use generic, unlabeled ones – to discourage everyone from having the same idea.
Anabelle was too big for the space jungle gym tube thingy (to use a technical term) but we did try out the other post show items. The Video Postcard machines demonstrated why it is better to have a touch screen than the sporadically active keyboards “Design a Figment” used. Although since none of them ever arrived, that may not be an accurate assessment.
video game. We all scored bonus points on it, but the fact that she led the way into a realm she normally avoids like the plague was yet another instance of Disney Magic.
Rosa wasn’t only full of vacation enchantments, but also Norwegian yumminess. Anabelle inherited a need for regular feeding times from me, which meant we had to eat something.
Rosa’s aversion to thrill rides, Anabelle’s indifference to cars, and my long lasting grudge against the loss of Magnetic Levitation Man prevented us from slowing down as we passed Test Track on the way back into World Showcase for some Mexican counter service.
The Cantina de San Angel was half the size it used to be because of the new table service place built into the area. The menu looked to be also reduced to items only having cheese and chips. I figured since a dinner I wasn’t supposed to eat was predestined; I might as well enjoy it. Due to rushing and a new metabolism on previous trips, I was somewhere between three and five years overdue for an EPCOT bratwurst and beer. Remembering how close Mexico, Norway and China were, I was expecting a short jaunt to grab my dinner in Germany while Anabelle started eating. I had forgotten about the Africa traders and the bridge, which added in an extra half Death March. It served nicely to walk off the offending meal.
I reached Germany to find that Snow White did greet guests by the wishing well in the shadier part of the day. I also found some issues with my overdue meal. I made a bee line to the counter service German place, ordered my Disney dining plan entrée (Bratwurst) beverage (water) and dessert (pretzel) plus the Oktoberfest special brew.
When the Deutch Lad from Deutchland informed me they only had pretzels outside on the cart, my head nearly exploded. I had reached crazy hungry somewhere around China, and could not think straight. After nearly storming out, I luckily came to my senses enough to realize I would either:
A) Pass out before I crossed Africa.
B) Be in a foul enough mood that my family would kill me upon arrival in Mexico.
Some quick recalculations cancelled the beer order, and picked out the cake that looked the most stable for the trip back. I inhaled the entire liter bottle of water before clearing the checkout line, grabbed napkins without slowing down, and sped to the pretzel cart. The pretzel was a snack, and the beer was charged to the room with ease.
YAY MAGIC BANDS!
By that point, instead of asking, I declared to the confused looking German pretzel lass, “I am stealing this tray and hijacking it to Mexico to eat with my family.”
I did down one mouthful of beer to an “Eins, Zwei, Zuffa” while arranging the tray for balance, but ended up eating the rest of the meal as part of a surreal Mariachi accompanied Oktoberfest. If I leaned and squinted, I could see the German Pavilion between some trees.
Anabelle’s interpersonal bravery continued to grow. She went up on her own to ask for more cheese. Then she returned in a panic, because while her Magic Band was authorized for the meal plan, it couldn’t charge the 89 cents back to the room. Still, A for effort.
Or whatever that is in Spanish. (Did I mention I suck at languages?)
An attempt to squeeze in the final Duffy Stamp was thwarted by the need for a bathroom break. Amazingly, China continued to be a potty free zone, forcing us backwards to Norway, and placing a double guarantee on the second EPCOT Death March.
We worked through the crowd to the spot behind the tower gift shop, and completed the hat trick of wasted EPCOT FastPasses, since the view was no better than the spot we’d left. Still, it’s always heartwarming watching total strangers act like lifelong friends because they’re sharing Magical Disney Experiences.
The end of Fantasmic went off next door before the start of Illuminations. Standing front row at the mind boggling spectacle of a nightly park finale makes it incredibly obvious how Disney uses a quarter of the world’s fireworks.
After the show we passed through the store, and I hated to ruin the excitement of the Cast Member who though the previous day’s temporary Mickey tattoo was one of my real ones.
There was an advantage of taking notes on the fly, to offset the many walls I walked into. Every previous trip to Disney the following happened on the way out of EPCOT at closing time.
I got surprised by the little star lights on the sidewalk.
I took a picture of the little star lights on the sidewalk.
I forgot about the little star lights on the sidewalk.
I deleted the picture of the little star lights on the sidewalk because I had no idea what the heck it was.
We did a bit of brief PhotoPass ninja work before reaching the gate, and went to our assigned stop. The Cattle Truck like bus waiting was mobbed, prompting us to try the one behind it. The driver told Anabelle to get off last and she’d give her some transportation cards.
Unfortunately, the driver was unaware that she was already out of the cards, making the wait for nothing. Also, the pole I was leaning on ate the center out of my very popular Mickey tattoo. All in all, it wasn’t our most magical bus ride.
The gift shop trivia board featured questions about The Emperor’s New Groove. That would be the Disney cartoon set in Peru featuring Looney Tunes levels of silliness. I struggled under the weight of the reams of stickers we won as I picked up the towels and hot chocolate mugs before meeting the ladies in the pool.
My Plavix was starting to kick in, leading me to perform the shiver ‘n stroke.
Our new way of preparing for the next morning only needed one hurled object to keep me awake.
For fear of never emerging from coma like Disney slumber without my pre-bedtime nap, I slept with the cell phone we used as an alarm clock clutched tightly in my hand.
It was my punctuality magic feather.
Disney 2013 Trip Index
Disney 2013 Trip Index