Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Disney Trip 2016: Epcot

We started the day looking at the weather forecast.  Orlando was in a Tropical Storm Warning, and the news stations were making a huge deal out of it!  They made it sound like it was going to be a complete downpour for the next two days.  We debated changing our plans, but in the end, we just decided to go for it.  At least the crowds should be smaller if we were stuck in downpours all day!

Everything was a little wet when we left, but the immediate forecast looked like we would have a couple of hours with no rain.  So off to Epcot we went!

Touring Plans Predicted Crowd Levels:  7 out of 10
Actual Crowd Levels:  7 out of 10

7:25 am:  At the bus stop.  We had an 8:00 am breakfast reservation at Epcot, so we were up and ready to go bright and early.

7:37 am:  We arrived at Epcot and got in the fairly short line for breakfast reservations.  They let everyone with a breakfast reservation into the park at 7:45 am.

We stopped at the front of the park for a couple of pictures, while Daniel got a stroller for Isla.  (The foot that she injured the previous night was still hurting her and she would not put any weight on it, only walking on her heel).

8:00 am:  Our breakfast reservation was at Garden Grill, located in the Land Pavilion at Epcot.  It is a rotating restaurant that slowly rotates around the Living with the Land ride while you eat.  It is also a character meal, so Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale stopped by our table while we ate breakfast.

The breakfast food is a fixed menu, so they just automatically bring the same food to everyone and serve it family style to your table.  This makes for a super fast dining experience (and a great breakfast option if you want to be first in line for Soarin).  The food was good!  First we got Chip's Sticky Bun Bake, a giant skillet cinnamon roll along with some fresh fruit.  It was yummy!
Then they brought out a big plate with bacon, ham, tator tots, scrambled eggs, and Mickey waffles with a Nutella sauce.  All was hot and good!
As we were eating, the restaurant was rotating and the characters quickly came out to greet us! 

8:40 am:  We were finished with breakfast and headed out.  If we wanted to ride Soarin first thing, then this would have been the perfect opportunity as we were in that building.  But we wanted to meet Joy and Sadness from Inside Out.  So we walked to their spot.  Except we couldn't walk directly there because they have the path blocked before the park opens.  Instead we had to detour through a building and come around the long way.  By the time we got to the Character Spot, the park had already opened and a small crowd had already formed in front of us.
9:00 am:  We had to wait about 15 minutes for the meet n greet to start, but then the line moved very quickly.  The queue area was designed to look like the part in the movie where all the memories are stored.  The girls had a lot of fun, acting out the different emotions (Anger, Joy, Sadness, Fear and Disgust) while we waited.

By 9:15, it was our turn to meet Joy and Sadness.  And it was worth the wait!  This was a highlight of the trip for us.

Sadness wanted a hug from Isla too.  But of course, Isla was not giving out any hugs.  Sadness reacted by bending down low.  And staying there for a long time.  It was hilarious.  Isla was cracking up!  Daniel came over and tried to cheer her up, but cheering up Sadness is not an easy task.

Then it was time for autographs.  Joy signed the books, but Sadness was so sad, she refused to even hold the book.  Joy had to hold it for her, and then Sadness signed her name very slowly and her signature started to trail down the page, like it was just too much effort to even sign her name.  She emoted sadness with every action, and it was such a fun interaction.  My girls talk about this more than almost anything else on the trip!
After Joy and Sadness, we went over to the Finding Nemo ride and walked onto that ride.  Then we went to Turtle Talk with Crush, which is a fun interactive show.  I am always left impressed with how the cartoon character Crush is able to interact with the live audience.  They had just added a new part with Dory and other characters from Finding Dory, so that was fun.

 Then Audrey wanted to ride Nemo again.  So Audrey and I went back on Nemo, while Daniel and Isla looked around the aquariums.  We all met up for a picture inside Bruce the Shark.
10:30 am:  Once we finished the Nemo section, we walked back to the Land pavilion.  We waited for about 5 minutes to go on Living with the Land.  Living with the Land is a little boat ride tour of the Disney greenhouses.  It sounds really lame, but it is actually not as lame as it sounds!  Our girls enjoy it.

10:50 am:  After finishing Living with the Land, Audrey and I got in line to use our Soarin fastpass. Isla didn't want to ride this. In retrospect, we should have done a Rider Switch for this ride.  All four of us could have gotten in line, then one could stay with Isla while the other rode with Audrey.  Once the ride was finished, we could switch and Audrey would be able to ride again with the other parent.  We should have done that, and I don't know why we didn't do that.  But instead Audrey and I got in line, and the Fastpass line was surprisingly long.  We ended up waiting for 20 minutes!  But the standby wait was 100 minutes, so I guess 20 wasn't so bad.

This was my first time to ride Soarin.  I worried about motion sickness issues, but I was fine and enjoyed it!  Audrey wasn't so sure if she liked it or not.  By the time we got done, Daniel didn't want to go get in the Fastpass line again, so he just skipped it.

11:35 am:  We started walking into the World.  Epcot has a huge section with different areas featuring different countries.  I have heard from people that think this is boring, but we enjoy it.  They have little stations called Kidcot stations.  The kids get a Duffy the Bear that they can color and get stamped at each Kidcot station.  You could easily spend a couple of hours just walking around and doing the Kidcot stations.  Most of the Kidcot stations also had cast members who were trading pins, and my girls had just discovered pin trading.  So that was fun for them too!

We skipped over Canada and stopped in the U.K. first.  The girls went into the Kidcot station, while I hopped in line for Mary Poppins.  Mary Poppins was not actually out greeting, but a few families were standing in line near her spot.  Kenny the Pirate's Character App said that Mary Poppins should be greeting there at 12:00, so I figured I was in the right place.  Sure enough, at 12:00, out came Mary Poppins.  This is one of Isla's favorite characters.  If you look closely, she might be almost smiling in the picture next to her!

 Still no rain yet, but the clouds were starting to look more ominous.  Our next stop was France.  I got a delicious chocolate croissant while the girls did the Kidcot station.  We stopped to watch this street performer balance on chairs in France.

Next was a quick stop in Morocco to find the Kidcot station.

And Daniel and Audrey stopped at the Photopass photographer for a picture in front of this Moroccan fountain.

Next up was Japan.  I had planned a surprise for the girls in Japan, and they knew that a surprise was waiting for them in Japan, so they were excited to get here!  The surprise was to Pick a Pearl.  This is a station set up in one of the stores in Japan.  They have real oysters with real pearls inside them.  For $17, you get to pick an oyster.  Then they make a big deal about opening it up.  They teach you how to count down 3, 2, 1 in Japanese, then they have everyone in the store chant it together.  They bang on a gong and open your oyster to reveal your pearl and measure it for you.  Then you get to keep the pearl.  Each of the girls got to do this, and they both ended up with a pearl around 7 mm.

Of course, Disney wants you to spend more money, so they have jewelry settings that you can choose to have your pearl set in.  These options are at least $35, many were more expensive.  I did my research ahead of time and bought necklaces with pearl cages for the girls from Etsy.  Isla got a Minnie Mouse one, and Audrey got  Cinderella's carriage.  And they were only $8.00 each (which included both the cage and the chain).  A much better deal, and the girls loved them.  We have had these necklaces for about 6 weeks now, and the girls have worn them a lot.  So far they are holding up well!

After getting a pearl and finding the Kidcot station, we stopped for a Kakigori snack in Japan.  Kakigori is very similar to a snow cone.  I made everyone eat fast, because it looked like the rain was close!  I wanted to make it through the World before it started pouring.

We skipped America and made quick stops in Italy, Germany and China at the Kidcot stations.
 1:30 pm-- As we were leaving China, it started to rain. 

Norway was next, so we hurried inside a gift shop there and found the Kidcot station.  And then it started POURING!  While we were waiting for the rain to settle down, we took some pictures with this giant troll statue in the gift shop.
After about 10 minutes, the rain pretty much stopped.  The new Frozen ride and Elsa/Anna meet n greet wasn't quite ready to open yet (both opened two weeks after we left!), so there wasn't much else to do there. We went on to Mexico.  There is a ride inside the Mexico pyramid that features Donald Duck.  We had never ridden it before, so we decided to give it a try.  It's a pretty lame ride.  But the girls loved it, and they wanted to ride it twice.  So we got off and walked right back on!

2:20 pm-- Our 8:00 am breakfast was starting to seem like a long time ago.  Time for lunch!  The best quick service option in the front part of Epcot is the Sunshine Seasons food court in the Land pavilion.  So we decided to walk back over there for a late lunch.  Along the way, we stopped at Club Cool.  It is a soda fountain sponsored by Coke, with different flavored sodas from around the world.  It's all free and you can sample whatever you like!  Audrey and Daniel were brave enough to taste the Beverly, an extremely bitter soda from Italy.  Yuck!!

After lunch at Sunshine Seasons, Audrey wanted to ride Nemo (AGAIN!).  Isla did not want to ride, so we just hung out at the food court while they went to ride.  It was starting to rain a little bit again, though not a downpour like before.  Isla wanted me to take her picture while we waited.  I never say no when Isla ASKS to have her picture taken!

 3:30 pm--  Daniel and Audrey made it back from Nemo, and we let the girls pick what they wanted to do next.  They picked another ride on Living with the Land.  Not sure this ride is worth two rides in the same day, but it made my girls happy.

Next we had a fastpass for Spaceship Earth, which is the ride inside Epcot's big ball.  It was raining lightly as we walked over there, and a bunch of people were jumping in the Spaceship Earth line, most likely to escape the rain.  I was glad we had a Fastpass, so we didn't have to wait for more than 5 minutes to get on the ride.

This was my first time to ride Spaceship Earth.  We all thought it was okay, except for Audrey who LOVED it!  I was really surprised, but she said it was her favorite ride at Epcot.

When we came off the ride, everyone outside looked DRENCHED.  I think we missed a big downpour while we were inside, and it was still lightly raining when we came out.  Isla's poncho, which we left on top of the stroller, had also blown away.  Daniel packed her inside his poncho for the walk out of the park (she still wasn't putting full weight on her foot and would only hobble slowly on her heel).
That was the end of our day at Epcot.  It really was a great day.  While there was some rain, it was not a washout at all, and we managed to be inside during the biggest downpours.  We headed back to Coronado Springs for the evening.  I took Audrey to the pool when we got back.  It was raining lightly the whole time, but she didn't care!
I don't remember what we did for the rest of the evening.  I know we went to bed pretty early to get ready for our last day at Magic Kingdom!