Thursday, April 7, 2011

Orlando trip - February 11, 2011 - Epcot

It was a bright and early morning, but I was excited - I was going to get to spend the whole day at Epcot! Future World is open a couple of hours before World Showcase, but it's nice that they have the entrance from the Epcot resorts open with the main gates. You can walk through World Showcase to get to Future World, and it's actually really nice to have a good view of World Showcase while it's that empty.

The only other people around are others also walking to Future World.

We went to Test Track, which was only a 10 minute wait at that point, but we just went to get Fastpasses, and then we went to the Land Pavilion for breakfast. We'd eaten there on our last trip, and they have several different good breakfast options. I like the atmosphere in there as well, with plenty of seating available, so it's a good way to power up and ease into your day.

Breakfast platter at Sunshine Seasons in Land Pavilion.

After breakfast, we rode "Living with the Land". It's a pretty simple boat ride, where they talk about agriculture and climates and such, and I can't really explain why I absolutely adore this ride. It's one of the rides I have to go on twice during my visit. I don't think I've been on it at night since we usually do Future World in the daytime and World Showcase at night. I'll have to try that on a future visit to see if an evening ride is any different during the outdoor parts. One of the highlights of the ride for me is seeing the greenhouses. Last time, we did the "Behind the Seeds Tour", which is a walking tour that actually takes you inside the greenhouses, and I loved that too.

Giant lemons are grown in the Land Pavilion greenhouse.

Cucumbers grown in a different way.

After that, we headed back to Future World to use our Test Track Fastpasses. I love this ride, and I wish that Disneyland's short-lived Rocket Rods could have been more like it. For me, it's also the perfect Fastpass ride. The first time we rode it, we purposely did the stand-by line so that we could see everything in the queue. There is a lot to see there with all the testing and such, but it's not something I'd be interesting in looking at repeatedly, so for every subsequent ride, we've done Fastpass so we can bypass the usually-long line.

Getting close to our turn to board Test Track, and other riders are returning from their trip.

We took a ride on Spaceship Earth (I know some purists object to the change, but I like being able to listen to Judi Dench narrate the ride.), and then we headed back over to the Land Pavilion to ride Soarin'. It's exactly the same version as the Disneyland Resort has (at Disney California Adventure - DCA), which we're very familiar with, but we wanted to see how the rest of the attraction was at Epcot. There were some pictures along the queue, but I was surprised that the queue wasn't nearly as good as many of the other queues at WDW. The queue for Soarin' at DCA is much better - the show building is more like a plane hangar. The one at Epcot really just looked like a building. But we enjoyed our ride anyway.

OK, here's a side note that most people won't care about. One thing I'd noticed on our last trip and which was reinforced this time is that many of the visitors to WDW are fans of Vera Bradley and her purses/backpacks/bags. From the time we landed at Orlando Airport and throughout our visits to the various WDW parks and Downtown Disney, you could not help but spot her designs everywhere. I don't know the breakdown of people who visit WDW, so I don't know if Vera Bradley is just very popular with the international crowd, or if it's an East Coast affinity, or if for some reason, Vera Bradley fans just happen to flock to WDW, but the variety of styles and patterns that you see on people all over WDW is just really astonishing.

OK, enough of that detour. On to World Showcase! We wandered around for a bit and then ended up at the counter service place in Germany for lunch. That happens to be a favorite of ours.

A bratwurst each and sharing a pretzel.

There aren't very many tables available in that area, but we were lucky enough to find a family about to leave a small table, so we sat down as they left. With our bratwursts and pretzel, we wanted some mustard to go with it. We were in Germany, so surely they had some decent mustard we could have. Well, the packets right by the counter service turned out to be just regular yellow mustard - I don't remember if it was French's. The husband decided to go into the shops because he figured he'd at least be able to buy a small jar of good German mustard. He came back empty handed. We were really disappointed that in the Germany section, there was no good mustard to be had. I needed a bottle of water, so I went to the little kiosk at the front of the Germany section, and lo and behold, because they also sold pretzels, they actually had a basket of Gulden's mustard! At least that had a little extra flavor than regular mustard, but it was surprising that it was the only random place you could get it.

We enjoyed our lunch and the atmosphere of Germany. It was a bit windy and cold out, though, so after we were done, we went into the gift shop to look around. They have a whole section of Arribas Bros. and other jeweled figurines as well.

Arribas Bros. sculpture of Cinderella Castle at Germany - $37,500.

Ariel is pretty, even though she'll cost a pretty penny or two or more.

I was amazed that the Sorcerer Mickey was the same price as the combined Tigger and Pooh piece given the size differences between the two.

After meandering a bit, we headed to the Japan section of Epcot.

The beautiful Japanese pavilion.

The taiko drummers - all female - were playing, so we stopped and listened to them for a while.

The taiko drummers in Japan.

We then continued on our way and went to France. We'd never seen the film there before, so we stopped in to see that. The theatre was gorgeous, and because of the screens set-up, I ended up referring to it as half-Circlevision. Some of the music reminded me a lot of the opening to "Beauty and the Beast", before the narration about the prince starts. I enjoyed the film and would see it again.

We made our way around World Showcase, stopping and looking at various things, until we got to the Canada section. We'd not seen their film before either, so we wanted to do that. Their film is a true Circlevision film, narrated by Martin Short. I'm not terribly enamoured of Circlevision films because while the views are beautiful, the simulated motion bothers me a bit, and you're also standing during the film. I liked the film ok, and I enjoyed the panoramic views of Canada, but I'm not sure it's a film I'd be likely to see very often. (The China section of Epcot also has a film, also a Circlevision film, but I'd seen it when Disneyland still had a Circlevision theatre, so we skipped it at Epcot.)

By this time, it was getting close to dinner time, so we headed back to the U.K. section for our 6:55pm dinner reservation at Rose and Crown.

When we were taken to our table, we laughed because we were being sat at EXACTLY the same table that we'd had the previous August. We'd not had a reservation then, but the Anglophile in me really wanted to go to Rose and Crown, and we ended up having a late lunch there as walk-up. How weird that we ended up at the same table as last time.

I'd had the fruit and cheese plate last time, and I had enjoyed it very much, so I had that again.

This picture is from our August 2010 visit - fruit and cheese plate with Stilton, Irish cheddar, mushroom brie, grapes, dried cranberries, candied walnuts and onion jam.

I don't remember what else I had for dinner, but I do remember that we had a lovely time. Our server was very nice, and I was just really enjoying being in the English environment.

After dinner, we went to wait for Illuminations, and we were in between the U.S. and Japan so that we could have a good view of the globe. One of the giant torches was right in front of us.

My picture of the lit fire pot in front of us looks like a picture of a solar flare.

I love Illuminations - the fireworks, the songs, the globe, all of it. If I was local to Orlando, I'd be planted at Epcot on many, many evenings to watch the show. The show always seemed much shorter than I remembered from the last time I saw it, but I realized that night why I thought it was a half-hour show. It's because we always stay through ALL of the closing music, which includes Tapestry, which adds a good 10 minutes at least.

Unlike the night we arrived, we didn't have to leave after Illuminations ended because Epcot had evening Extra Magic Hours that night, from 9pm to midnight. If I don't have to leave Epcot yet, I'm not going.

We hadn't planned on riding Mission: Space that day. We like the ride but even with the smoother "green" side, it can be a bit much for me to take. However, a friend had tweeted me earlier in the evening to tell me that his older son (who I'd met) was actually working the ride that night, and his son tweeted me to come by, so we figured, what the heck. We only chatted with him for a minute or two since he was busy working, and then we went on the ride. Afterward, we headed back to World Showcase, and along the way, we saw a lot of people waiting around for Test Track. It had been down for at least half an hour during EMH, so I felt badly for all the people waiting in line for it to re-open.

We went to the Norway section to ride Maelstrom. I enjoy the ride, and we go on it every visit. I love seeing the polar bears! At that time of the night, there was very little wait time, but I was sad that the film at the exit of the attraction doesn't run during EMH.

But I was happy to discover a t-shirt for the attraction in the gift shop, so I bought that.

Maelstrom t-shirt.

By this time, it was close to midnight, so we just leisurely strolled through the rest of Epcot on the way back to our room.


Sherry said...

TAIKO!!! (Sorry, I have to do that whenever I see those drums).

I love that your lunch was in the shape of Mickey's head.

Martha said...

I think the Vera Bradley bags are so popular at WDW because they are so completely comfortable. I thought it was just because they are fabric, which is so much more comfortable on hot, sticky day in Florida. I made a knock-off and found that it made my neck ache horribly. I found a Vera Bradley hipster at a thrift store and was amazed at how comfortable it is! I am now praying for a small VB backpack to come my way before my next trip, as I want to bring snacks into the parks and they don't all fit in my hipster.