Friday, November 06, 2015

Disney World - Epcot

I woke up to the realization that the week was quickly sliding by. We arrived on Sunday and it was already Friday. I was up at 7:00 ready to go to Epcot, but I was the only one. Finally, after breakfast at the Contempo Cafe, we made it to the monorail platform by 10:00.

Ready to go again

Arriving at Epcot

Our first stop at Epcot was Mission Space. Kim and Mike tried this the other night when they were here. It was a simulator ride with two levels of intensity. They did the milder one before and Mike, Sandy and the girls opted for that again. Kim and I went for the more extreme ride. I've never been on a simulator before that was equipped with barf bags.

Robyn is tall enough

Ready for Mission Space

The ride was fun. Gary Sinise was our mission director. He instructed us to keep our heads back against the headrest and our eyes on the screen or there would be a good chance we would need the barf bags. There were four people in a capsule. We each had a role (commander, pilot, navigator, engineer) and a task assigned for our training mission to Mars. The ride actually pulled 2.5 positive G's as well as slipping to the negative side.

Needless to say, we survived the mission.

The seasoned space veterans moved on to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival Center. This is a two month celebration of food and wine from around the world with booths throughout Epcot.

The Food and Wine Festival Headquarters

Coffee, anyone?

We moved on to the Electric Umbrella Restaurant, a quick serve place that features burgers, fries, mac & cheese and the like. It was good and dessert, a 140 calorie no sugar and gluten free brownie, was awesome.

Jolene and Robyn went to the Ladies Room by themselves and turned the wrong way when they came out. To their credit, neither of them panicked and they got their mistake figured out before we went looking for them.

The Electric Umbrella

OMG It's Gluten (and sugar) Free

Our next scheduled activity was FastPasses to Soarin', located in The Land. This is one of the most popular rides in the entire resort. FastPasses must be booked days or weeks ahead. It simulates riding a hang glider or similar conveyance over the California countryside.  It is a peaceful and relaxing tour, and you can even smell the oranges as you swoop over the citrus groves. I'd do this again. And again. We met a couple in line who live about 60 miles away and come to Epcot regularly just to enjoy Soarin'. The current version will shut down in January and be upgraded to a new Soarin' experience, expected to open by summer.

On the way to Soarin'

Leaving The Land, we were now able to book a new FastPass. The one we really wanted, Test Track, was booked solid. In fact, even with pre-booking you can't reserve both Soarin' and Test Track on the same day. So we went to Imagination for the old Figment ride. Sandy was wearing her 30 year old Figment shirt, which got some comments from the cast members present (most of whom were much younger than the shirt).

Figment was dated. So was Captain Eo, the laser and dance show with the late Michael Jackson which was cutting edge when it was made by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola at the peak of Jackson's career in 1986.

Somewhere in Epcot

Somewhere else in Epcot

Hey, Minnie!

Imagination, the home of Figment

After we finished in Imagination, we moved on to the World Showcase, a series of national pavilions arrayed around a lagoon. It was jam packed with people enjoying the food and wine in all the Festival booths around the circle.

Our first stop was the Mexico Pavilion where we took a boat ride through Mexico escorted by the Three Caballeros (Donald Duck, José "Zé" Carioca and Panchito) from the 1944 movie of the same name.

Next, we started around the lagoon counter-clockwise, beginning with Canada. We moved through the United Kingdom, France (Escargot croissants and alcohol frozen treats), Morocco, Japan, America, Italy, Germany and China, before arriving at our supper destination in Norway.

Paris in the background

They were framed

French cuisine

Mike eating snails

Rainbow from Italy

Mike asked if we could get a picture of this

Taking a break

What were we looking at?

Kids and drums

Someone is getting wet

We arrived at the Norway pavilion where the Maelstrom Ride used to be, It was shut down a year ago, to be replaced by a new ride based on the film Frozen early next year. We looked at some features before lining up for our reservation with the princesses at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Jolene befriends a troll

On our way to our table

All the servers were from Scandinavia. Marit, possibly the prettiest of the pretty, looked after us. There was a well appointed appetizer buffet, but we ordered our entrees a la carte. I remember our first time at Disney World back in 1985 when the meal plan consisted of three sit down meals a day and it took us a few days to realize we could not eat three full meals every day. Now I think that one full meal, one quick serve meal and a snack may be too much. I skipped the dessert medley of rice pudding with ganache, choocolate mousse and an apple blossom pastry.

The character element was billed as Princesses On Parade. I don't know one princess from another, but there were a lot of them.

After supper, Sandy and I took the girls back to the hotel while Kim and Mike stayed to sample the wines and food. It was dark at 6:45 as we took the monorail back to the Transportation Center. Imagine our surprise when we found the Resort Monorail was shut down. We could have taken the Express to the Magic Kingdom and walked but took the ferry across the Seven Seas Lagoon instead.

Waiting for the ferry

On the ferry, we talked to a lady whose son had been a US Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer for twenty years. She told us he may have been the only Rescue Swimmer to have actually been bitten by a shark. I do know that that Rescue Swimmer training makes the Navy Seal requirements look like a walk in the park.

From the Magic Kingdom, we walked to the Contemporary. As we were getting close, the Resort Monorail went by over our heads.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

We got back to hotel before 8:00 PM. While we were in the lobby, a man with a walker fell on the escalator and I found the STOP button was hard to activate under its Plexiglas cover. I managed to get it stopped and the staff took over. It looked like all was going to be fine.

In the room, we found the Mousekeeper had installed an Olav balloon on their bed.


At 9:00 PM, I took the girls to the dock where we caught one of the boats that circumnavigate Bay Lake. We did a lap of the lake and met a couple from Nottingham, England who had been married at the Grand Floridian ten years ago. They were back on a 19 day trip to celebrate their anniversary.

We got back to our dock just as the light and music show was starting on the water. Back in our room before 10:00, the girls went right to sleep. Kim and Mike didn't roll in until after midnight. After Epcot, they went over to Disney Springs and enjoyed the Cirque Du Soleil extravaganza. It was nice to give the two of them a chance to get away by themselves for a while.

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