Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day 2 - Sunday, June 8th - First Day of EPCOT!

EPCOT was our only 2-day park. We went our first full day and our last full day. It worked out that way based on most-recommended days to visit parks but there is a certain rhythm to having EPCOT bookend our trip. On Sunday, I DisneyBounded as Coronation Elsa. My mission (which I achieved, thank you very much) was to get my picture taken in front of the Stave Church in Norway.

The photopass photographer in front of the park before opening made my day with this picture. The “kissing in front of the kids” picture theme continued with other photographers at other parks. It was fun for us, less fun for the kids maybe...but who cares?!

My dear readers….I was so happy on this day (not that I was ever sad on this trip, but you know what I mean). Our family loves EPCOT. My kids had been talking about going back to Soarin’ for months (remember we were last at WDW in 2009) and, because I’m all about Maintaining the Magic, I assiduously avoided mentioning the posts I’d read about how crummy the film was now with the black spots popping up. (Sure enough...Soarin’ was still great for our family, even with the black spots and the inevitable “Hey, look Mom, it’s a bug!” from the younger kids in the audience.)

I made the family get on the bus to the big ol’ golf ball well before rope drop but it wasn’t as early as I would have preferred. My idea of early rope drop and my family’s idea of early rope drop are not in sync. I (eventually) learned to roll with it. I appreciated that we were there before the gates opened, and I only put my foot down about arriving on my schedule for our Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom days. (Totally paid off by the way, just saying….) On Sunday, we were at EPCOT well before the gates opened but we were still pretty far back. And of course at EPCOT people are either going to Soarin’ or Test Track so, with two choices and so many people….being at the front matters. We went straight to Test Track to ride standby, which was supposedly 20 minutes but was actually a little longer. (If we’d been at the front of the turnstiles the wait wouldn’t have been as long...but who’s complaining about that? Not me…not now anyway...maybe I did a little that morning….) Truthfully, it was not a huge issue because the TT queue is quite cool and I knew we could ride single rider later. We LOVED IT. My son loved it most of all. We rode single rider at least one more time that day and a few times our second day at EPCOT...Here we are building our vehicles: the time we were out of TT we were behind “schedule” (and at this point I was still annoying my loved ones by focusing on the schedule) - so when we got to Sum of All Thrills it was more of a wait than I would have preferred but still worth it. The sign said 15 minutes...maybe it was but I don’t think so. It seemed longer to me - but who knows? At any rate, it was tons of fun to watch the legs of the folks in front of us flying around and wondering what their coasters were like. Cool beans. Finally we got to create the roller coasters. I went with Dennis and my husband stuck with Kathryn. My husband (somewhat surprisingly) had to get them to open the machine immediately after they closed it because he felt claustrophobic. Kathryn ended up riding by herself. My son and I rode his together. It was intense and fun! (He included loops in his!)

As a mom who still wasn’t sure how her son would react to roller coasters, I especially liked the fact that I could see an image of his face with his reactions in the corner of my screen. Technology...Helping Moms Relax and Enjoy the Ride.

Dennis’s experience on SoAT (combined with his love of Test Track and the fact that he survived EE the day before) inspired him to say: “I’ve learned that I like roller coasters after all! Just not Expedition Everest.”

Fair enough, dude….fair enough. And actually rather understandable to be perfectly honest.

If I had taken better notes of our day, I could tell you exact wait times and stuff but that didn’t happen. I can tell you that I think our three longest waits all week were at Test Track, Sum of All Thrills and (ironically) the Ariel ride at MK (more on that later) but really - none of them exceeded 20 minutes by very much. Having a plan and hitting rope drop matters. You’ll still be winging it some and enjoying the little things, but you’re much less likely to spend hours in line.

Before our Behind the Seeds tour at noon, we used our Soarin’ FP, rode Living with the Land, and ate at Sunshine Seasons. I highly recommend the Behind the Seeds tour. (Side Note: I also highly recommend Sunshine Seasons. Wow - the food there….yummmmmm. I’m hungry just thinking about it.) Our family likes science and it really was great to hear about all the cool greenhouse technology and see the lettuce that would end up in the restaurants later. Granted...our family is sort of sciency (ok, nerdy) but that’s probably not a prerequisite to enjoying the tour. Here are my kids watching some sort of wasp (the wasp’s name escapes me at the moment but they are super tiny, they don’t even look like wasps - totally not scary or intimidating to kids in case you’re worried). These cool wasps get rid of leaf miner bugs that eat leaves from the inside out.

It was cool to be walking in the greenhouses as the boat went by and I’m glad I’d taken the advice of a random forum advisor and made sure we rode Living with the Land before we took the tour that morning. Here’s a collage of some hidden (and not so hidden) Mickeys from the tour.

On the way out, I asked the tour guide (Lizzie) about her experience with the Disney College Program and was very happy when my daughter jumped in and followed up with all sorts of questions about college and the Disney program. My daughter is very interested in being a nurse (this becomes relevant in a few days, by the way) and the CM said Kathryn should look into the college program for sure. It was a great discussion. Here’s Lizzie with my two kiddos:

After the tour (or maybe some of it was before...who knows??) we used our FPs for Space Mountain and Mission Space, went to Character Spot because there was no wait (man...did my son complain about waiting for characters, even for just 10 minutes...but I held my ground and used Momma Guilt to my advantage). We also hit Club Cool (where my son completely redeemed himself and was a GREAT sport when he drank Beverly twice so we could get his expression on video - yea, Dennis!). We were able to hit Imagination before our 5:00 Akershus ADR. I have such fond memories of Figment. I went on and on and on about Figment. My family was respectfully silent and smiled kindly as I purchased a miniature Figment souvenir.

Akershus has very good food, in case you’re wondering - especially the salmon. The 5:00 ADR was perfect, because we walked right in almost before anyone else sat down and it poured down rain while we were eating. I was so happy to meet the princesses and get their autographs. (My kids didn’t collect autographs….I did...I think I’ll use them in frames or scrapbooks. That’s the theory anyway.)

And...check it out guys - Ariel is totally Kathryn’s princess look-alike! (Kathryn’s true doppelganger princess is Anna - her personality is exactly like Anna, she has the same freckles... when I saw Frozen I felt like I was watching my eldest on the screen….but until Anna existed, I always thought of Ariel as my girl’s look alike!)

I haven’t quite decided what my son was thinking in this picture with Aurora…and I’m not sure I’m going to ask. It might be “I can’t believe mom is making me take pictures with Princesses when I’m going to be in middle school next year” or it could be something else….?

The downpour ended by the time we left Akershus, and it was almost a walk-on for Maelstrom - which was good because there was a LONG line before our dinner ADR but there wasn’t a FP kiosk anywhere near us in Norway. (Of course, it didn’t occur to me to take care of a 4th FP+ as we left Future World because I was dying to get to the countries. My tendency to over-focus is sometimes a liability.)

Here we are at Maelstrom!!!! :)

After Maelstrom, I think we probably did the Mexico ride, which wasn’t on my list of must-do’s but why not do it, especially if it’s a total walk on?

Clearly this isn’t the most organized trip report. In looking at my pictures, I just realized that my son bought his Chinese hat BEFORE we went to Akershus….hmmmm. Who knew? Apparently we walked to Norway via China. My husband warned him he’d probably have to wear it on the plane but Dennis didn’t care. That hat was calling out to him! (And it ended up fitting in the suitcase after all….it will come in handy for Texas summers!)

On the way out of the park, we did the Nemo ride and looked at the aquarium. My daughter really didn’t want to do Crush, but I wanted to do it (pulling the ol’ Momma Guilt card again) and we walked by right as they were letting people in (so there was literally NO WAIT AT ALL). We did it and it was fun - of course. (You should always listen to your mom…)

We didn’t stay for Illuminations, but at this point I was still thinking we were going to see Fantasmic on Tuesday (that was foreshadowing...did you catch it?) so I wasn’t heartbroken about leaving early except I wanted my son to see the cool lights in the sidewalk as we left Future World (he didn’t remember those from our 2009 trip). Luckily it was getting dark, which made me happy, because - yea!! the funky sidewalk lights came on!! We did a repeat ride on Spaceship Earth before leaving the park. My kids LOVE that ride. I’m glad we went again because the videos in our car (or whatever that vehicle is called - a buggy??) didn’t work the first time we rode it with a FastPass. It was fun to see them work with our actual faces inserted into the video. Our faces are MUCH more entertaining than the generic cartoon faces.

Stay tuned for the next installment...our "non-park" day. My family thought it would be more restful.

Silly family! :)

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