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Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 4: Epcot and Hollywood Studios

on December 7, 2015

Fresh off our magical first Disney Day, we got up bright and early to hit Rope Drop at Epcot.  We had FP+ at Test Track for late morning, and since Epcot FP+ operates on a Tier System, we couldn’t also get one for Soarin’ on that same morning.  Our best bet was arriving early and going directly to The Land pavilion to soar over California before the standby line became prohibitive.  I am an aficionado of ride soundtracks, and the Soarin’ music is my absolute favorite.  To say I was looking forward to riding it again is an understatement.  We had good luck with the busses, and found ourselves about 5 families back from the rope, waiting impatiently for the Cast Member (CM) to announce the Park officially open.  We had left the stroller at the hotel for the AM shift of Park touring again, so as soon as I saw the CMs moving to open the ropes, I lifted my little guy onto my back- to avoid him getting caught up in the crowd, and also to speed our walking pace.

Side note: I made sure to wear my FitBit all during our vacation, and averaged 28K steps/day, which is close to 14 miles of walking.  So…eat whatever you want at Disney World, because you are surely burning those calories off if you follow our touring strategy.

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You can see my “Belle” nails a bit here.  Yes, I felt a little silly taking this pic solo, but…Disney.

 

I reassured my DH and DD that this was the only time today where we would have to rush.  FP+ and proper scheduling would have us cruising from fun stop to fun stop for the rest of the day.  I followed my husband to the entrance to The Land (because I have no sense of direction when outside), and then I took over once we were in the pavilion.  We walked into the ride queue, and again, just…kept…walking.  We had a short (about 5 minutes) wait while the Cast Members opened another holding area, and totally scored by getting seated in the front row.  This ride is fun no matter where you sit, but the front row is the best, in my opinion.  Soon enough, we were airborne, and I was sniffling with happiness again!  DS loved the ride so much!  I was quite pleased.  In Soarin’-related news, Disney announced at the D23 Expo that they would be introducing a new ride film for both the Disneyland and WDW versions of this ride.  Instead of just Soarin’ over different locations in California, guests would be Soarin’ Around the World.  This makes perfect sense at Epcot, since it includes World Showcase.  But in Disney’s California Adventure Park?  I’ll have to trust that Disney will show the new ride film for at least a year to give the attraction a nice boost, then eventually bring the California-specific version back.

With some time to kill before our first FP+, we decided to stay in the Land pavilion for another ride- Living with the Land.  This gentle boat ride takes you through a sort of living diorama of Disney’s hydroponic gardens, which provide about 25% of the food consumed at Epcot each day.  It was so nice, we rode it twice, just staying in our boat with the CM’s permission when only a few people were waiting to get on as we approached the disembarkation point.  We had scored the front row here, too.  Next up- a date with some possessive seagulls.

We headed towards The Living Seas pavilion.  After a chorus of “Mine! Mine! Mine!”…it was time find Nemo at The Seas w/Nemo & Friends.  This ride’s effects are really well done.  It’s similar to the Little Mermaid ride at MK, where you are “under the water.”  This time though, the film characters are in a real tank with real fish- it’s an amazing  effect.  We had FP+, but it wasn’t really necessary.

With a bit of time until our next experience, we explored the various aquariums.  I love the manatees, because they so round and “chub” is my favorite shape.  I wanted DS to take a picture with the Bruce figure in the shark area, but he got spooked by the many rows of realistic-looking teeth, and took a hard pass- he actually ran away!  It was pretty silly, and we calmed him by talking about how fun it would be to talk to a sea turtle.  And wouldn’t you know it….it was just about time for Turtle Talk with Crush using FP+!  It’s almost as though Mama had planned it that way…;)  DS was able to get a good seat (little ones sit on the carpet so Crush can see them clearly), while the rest of us got seats in the front row benches, again!  When it came time for DS to ask Crush a question, he got shy and put his hand down.  Oh well, other kids asked, and the show was funny, as always.

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We passed the Ocean Spray cranberry bog…

Next item on our agenda:  Club Cool.  This is not really an attraction, and not really a restaurant.  It’s just a big, interactive ad for Coca-Cola products.  There are refreshment stations that dispense free samples of Coke products from around the world.  Most are refreshing (Inca Kola from Peru is good), some are downright yummy (mmm…Vegitabeta from Japan, surprise ingredient: carrots!), but Disney insiders know to get their cameras out as they deliberately lead unsuspecting new Disney visitors towards…Beverly from Italy.  It is bitter, nasty, and has a horrible aftertaste.  Everybody hates it.  I have the pictures from DD’s and DH’s first trips to prove it.  In DD’s pic, she is actually sticking her tongue out, gagging.  DH’s face in his pic is the look of someone forced to drink tar.  This was the moment…DS’s first taste of Beverly…I had the camera ready…and…

HE LIKED IT.

I know!  He really hated the Fanta Pineapple from Greece and pulled a terrible face at its flavor, but liked the Beverly, and HAD SECONDS.  I was dumbfounded.  You know what they say about second children keeping you on your toes…

Mind blown, I led my team to the next item on our agenda: partaking in the Food & Wine Festival offerings.  Our first order of business was a tasting portion of Le Cellier’s infamous Mushroom Filet Mignon and Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup at the Canada pavilion.  You’ll remember that my husband states that the Le Cellier Mushroom Filet is the best steak he’s ever had.  Since that meal in 2008, Disney changed the menu from a Mushroom Filet to a Filet w/mushroom risotto and heirloom tomatoes.  Several reasons we didn’t schedule a sit-down meal at Le Cellier this trip: didn’t want to take a chance on the new dish, DS eats like a bird and this place is  quite pricey therefore it would be a waste, and the availability of the F & W tasting portions made the whole thing moot.  We went ahead got all 3 offerings from the Canada kiosk: filet, soup, and chicken sausage. Verdict: triple homer.  So, so good.

Next was the United Kingdom pavilion, because DH had a hankering for the signature dish from Yorkshire County Fish & Chips.  He really loves that malt vinegar on there, too.  The fish was fresh and hot- delicious.  We bopped around the Showcase and over to the Germany Pavilion, and met Snow White, plus took a look inside Karamell-Kuche for Werther’s caramel-themed bakery items.  I got a caramel bacon square topped with sea salt, which was…not a winner with us.  But I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so maybe that was why.  Incidentally, because of the caraMEHl (LOL), we took advantage of the “free ice water at any food location” benefit, getting a refreshing cup of H2O at the entrance to Sommerfest.

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Germany pavilion

DD was in need of a bubble tea at the China marketplace kiosk, but also wanted ravioli from Italy’s kiosk.  When in Disney, say yes!  We got both, and all enjoyed the ravioli.  We looped back toward USA, searching for the Hops & Barley kiosk, because I wanted to try the lobster roll.  We grabbed one of those, and also some fries at DS’s request, into the shaded American Gardens Theatre for Voices of Liberty‘s 11:45 show.  They are an EXCELLENT a cappella group that performs patriotic and Disney songs.  Sometimes they perform inside the USA pavilion’s Rotunda, but today’s performance was in the small American Gardens Theater right on World Showcase Lagoon.  The Rotunda performances are done in patriotic costume, and showcase patriotic songs.  For the American Gardens show, we were treated to a variety of Disney songs and some American classics.  Singing is one of those things I wish I was good at- but since I’m not, I applaud vehemently and tear up when others do it really well.  I think you can guess what happened here.

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After the show, we moseyed on back to Future World for out last FP+ of the day, at Test Track.  This ride has been “reimagined” since my last visit, so it was all new to me.  The design-your-car stations were great for keeping DS engaged and making the short wait go by even faster.  It was really exhilarating, and I actually learned some stuff about cars- who knew?  By this point, we’d reached our energy and heat limit, and headed back to the resort for a long rest (DD wasn’t feeling great).  We let her sleep in the room while DH, DS and I headed to the Big Blue Pool!  DS loved the splash area, and I made sure to stick my head under water to hear the music they pipe in to the main pool.  DH got a load of laundry done while we were at the pool, since they conveniently place the laundry room right next to the entrance.

About 5 hours later, we headed out again, for our first visit to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  The wait for a bus was longer today, and we really had to hustle to make to the last Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular show of the evening.  There were some rumors that this show would be shut down as part of the huge construction projects at DHS over the next few years (Toy Story Land, Star Wars Land, etc.), so I wanted to be sure DS saw it.  He enjoyed it, but got a little scared of the fire effects.

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We had good seats near the bottom right.

Next up was Voyage of the Little Mermaid (I know, they have a Little Mermaid ride in MK, but this is a show), always fun.  Next, we looked for something to eat before watching Fantasmic! at 8p.  Every food service cart was either closed or had a huge line.  We finally got a churro with cheese sauce, plus some pretzels, and barely made it to the show, which they announced was standing room only!  The stroller parking area was a madhouse, it was 100% nighttime at this point, and I had a huge moment of panic here.  The 4 of us were together, and DS was holding DH’s hand while walking toward the amphitheater.  I was pushing the empty stroller, and yelled to DH, “I’ll catch up to you!” while moving quickly to park the stroller in the designated area.  I walked fast and weaved in and around people who were walking away from the area, and toward the back where there was still space.  I tossed the rain cover down, locked the brake and whirled around to jog back to the main path, when I heard, “Mami, hold my hand.”  DS was right next to me!  I about had a heart attack.  Thinking back on it now, I’m still not sure how he managed to stay with me, since it was so dark and crowded, but I’m glad he did, and that he spoke up!  Otherwise I would have run back to DH and DD, and he would have been temporarily lost.  Whew.  When we did catch up to them, DH said that he heard me say OK to DS going with me.   A miscommunication on our part.  But because of these possible scenarios, we had already talked to DS about trusting the Cast Members with the white oval badges, and knowing both our cell #s by heart.  Plus, Disney has such an effective system to deal with “lost parents,” that we would have been reunited quickly in any case.

 

With my heart still pounding, we filed in and were able to get seats, thank goodness.  DS fell asleep on my lap within 5 minutes, and missed the whole, loud, wonderful thing.  The music from Fantasmic! is on my favorites list as well <contented sigh>.  DD loves the way Mickey Mouse dances, and I love the ending, but I won’t spoil it for you 🙂  Inspired, I bought some of the light-up ears, and enjoyed every minute of wearing them.

Since DS was still sleeping, and the attractions in the Park closed, we took our time walking out and popped in some of the shops.  DH found a nice coffee mug, and I was able to get my Park-specific magnet.  We had a moderate wait for a bus, and once back at the resort, stopped at Landscape of Flavors to eat some real food!  Churros and pretzels do not a dinner make.  I got a kids’ chicken burger, DH got some yummy pierogi, and DD chose the create-your-own-pasta station and emerged with pesto on farfalle.  DS slept in the stroller.  Back to the room by 10:30, and got cleaned up and into bed.  This time, I dreamt of savannahs and safaris, for we when we woke up, we’d be headed to Animal Kingdom

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2 responses to “Disney World October 2015 Trip Report Part 4: Epcot and Hollywood Studios

  1. VivaLaDiva405 says:

    I *cannot* believe he LIKED Beverly!! Also, my heart stopped at the Fanstamic story, too. What a scrappy little dude, I imagine him ducking and weaving through the people keeping eyes on you the whole time. Love him!

    Like

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