Friday, May 15, 2009

Sleeping in, Spaceship Earth and Flowers

Tuesday, April 28

For the first time during the trip we were able to "sleep in" -- until 7 a.m. We didn't have any character breakfasts or appointments this morning, so we decided to eat breakfast at the Roaring Fork and then head over to Epcot.

I have to say this: definitely take advantage of the quick service restaurant at your resort. They have a good variety of foods -- and it's the one place where you can get your refillable mugs filled!

[What is a refillable mug, you ask? It's just that - a plastic mug that you purchase at your resort for about $12.99 and you can fill it as often as you want with pop and/or coffee. It's a great value. We filled ours each morning with coffee and then every afternoon and evening we filled it with pop. You cannot fill these mugs at any of the theme parks. But for the money, it's a great value!]

My favorite thing at the Roaring Fork -- the 'pick a mix' cereal bar. Every morning they had several types of cereal (Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, etc.) and you could get them mixed together. My choice: a mix of corn flakes and frosted flakes - yum! Of course, there are hot food selections and a yogurt/granola/fresh berry mix too. And, you can use your Disney Dining Plan here too - food items are considered either snacks or quick service.

From now until May 31, the International Flower and Garden Festival is happening at Epcot. The whole park is decorated with nearly 30 million flowers. And topiaries! The photo up top is of the "Cinderellabration" topiary. All the princesses were represented in this display. I could go on and on about the flowers, but I'll sum it up this way: if you ever have the chance to see the Flower & Garden Festival... DO IT!

The crowds at Epcot never seem as huge as they do at say the Magic Kingdom, and this day was no different. We waited a total of maybe 5 minutes for Spaceship Earth. I had not been on this ride since I was a teenager and I have to say the updates added in the 2007 renovation (including a narration by Dame Judi Dench) are really cool. The descent of the ride adds some fun for riders -- you get to essentially create your own "Welcome to the Future" video which you can e-mail home after you disembark the ride. Very, very cool! (Olivia LOVED this part!)

We also waited a mere 5 minutes for "The Seas with Nemo and Friends". Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to experience Turtle Talk with Crush -- but it is on 'to do' list for 2011.

At 11 a.m. we headed over to the World Showcase for lunch. I love eating lunch in Mexico at the Cantina de San Angel. The seating is right on the water and it's so relaxing...and the food is really good too! [A must for Mexcio -- get a margarita! They are so worth the nearly $9 price tag!]. My favorite part of most meals is dessert and at the Cantina my personal favorite is the churro! Fried dough rolled in cinnamon sugar. Oh my.

After lunch we rode the Gran Fiesta Tour inside the Mexico pavilion pyramid. It's a fun, relaxing boat ride. And the atmosphere inside the pyramid is just downright cool. Then we headed over to China - the kids were looking for Mulan. [A good tip to remember - Epcot is chock full of characters! Mulan in China, Donald Duck in Mexico, Belle and The Beast in France, Snow White in Germany, Alice and Winnie the Pooh in England, Jasmine and Aladdin in Morocco...and the list goes on!]

When we arrived in China we were told that Mulan would be out soon. So Kevin and I decided to let the girls start their Kidcot masks. Let me explain Kidcot -- there are fun stops in all the World Showcase countries and a few Future World pavilions. In the countries, at each stop your kids can get their masks stamped and have a tag added. We started in China where Olivia and Emma each got their names written in Chinese and then started the coloring of the masks (with markers supplied by Sharpie). This is a great way to get the kids interested in "boring" things like countries.

[Buying a passport for the kids is another way to make the World Showcase more fun. You can find the passports in most of the showcase gift shops. They resemble a "real" passport and in each country your child can take his/her passport to the Kidcot funstop and get a country stamp and a "welcome message" written in that country's native language. I think I had as much fun with this as my girls did!]

OK, back to China. After waiting patiently, the girls finally saw Mulan walking through the pavilion, making her way to her designated spot. Mulan spotted the girls too (they were hard to miss - dressed as Snow White and Tinker Bell)...and she stopped and asked Olivia, Emma and Madysen (my niece) if they would walk with her! Olivia and Mady were able to hold Mulan's hands and WALK WITH HER! What a princess dream come true!!!! Just another example of pure Disney magic. You just never know when you'll get sprinkled with pixie dust!

Later that afternoon....

We had a dinner reservation at Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort. This character meal is a MUST DO meal. Where else are you going to meet the "top 5" -- Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy. The food is good - it's a buffet. But as with most character meals, it's all about who you meet. We had a great table -- right near the buffet -- so we were usually the first stop for Mickey, Minnie and pals. We even got two visits by Donald!

[Note: there are not buses that run from resort to resort, so if you are not a Contemporary guest getting there takes a little bit of travel. For us, we took our resort's bus to the Magic Kingdom and then hopped on the Monorail to the Contemporary. We also could have taken the boat right from our hotel to the Contemporary, but we noticed a long wait for that boat on another night. Ask your resort concierge about the quickest route to this resort.]

After dinner we decided to Monorail back to Epcot for Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. This might sound silly to some, but if you want a good seat for the show you best pick it out at least 45 minutes before the show begins. We were too busy walking around the World Showcase and as it got closer to showtime we realized 'oh no, all the good spots are taken!" We ended up watching the show in a spot near China, but our view was partially obstructed by trees. But it was still a good show!

My least favorite thing about leaving any of the parks (aside from the actual LEAVING part) is when closing time is at the same time as the end of the fireworks, parade, etc. It just creates mass chaos and one would think that the great minds at Disney would eventually say "gosh, maybe we should always make closing time 1 hour after the end of any fireworks, parade, etc. We managed to get a jump start on the 'exiting' crowd on this night - but only because we left before Illuminations was over. It was still mild chaos. But we did it. And we didn't wait long for a bus.

And all in all, it was a good day.

Tomorrow....a trip to the Magic Kingdom on my own (just me and my girls)...could I do it without losing a kid or getting lost myself? Tune in and find out.

Overall thoughts:
- Chef Mickey's is a must do character meal!
- The flower and garden festival is amazing
- I didn't get to ride Soarin'...and I'm still bummed about that

- If you have kids, you really should do the Kidcot funspots (and try out the new Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure. We wanted to do it but didn't have time...but it looks FUN!)
- Get your kids a passport for the World Showcase
- There are characters at Epcot - take your autograph books!

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