Sunday, March 25, 2018

Florida- Disney World- Epcot

We spent a lot of time planning and looking forward to our spring break trip to Disney World in Florida. Between our time share points and Disney Credit card points we thought it was time to cash them all in and have our week of fun. 
We flew into Orlando on Saturday, the day after school got out for spring break. It was a pretty easy flight and we took an Uber to our time share in time for a late dinner. We stayed at a HUGE sheraton time share compound. The place was 135 acres large!! We didn't have much time to explore the resort because we had plans to see Epcot the next day!
We knew we would face crowds going to Disney during spring break and we knew the best way to beat the crowds was to get there early. We made it to the park turnstiles 30 minutes before park opening. It was nice to be able to take some photos without anyone in the background!!
We had plenty of selfie time in front the giant golf ball. 
One child was bright eyed and bushy tailed and one was sour and crabby. I'll let you figure that one out. We even got buttons to commemorate our first trip!! They give you those at the ticket booth if you tell them you're celebrating something special.
With about 10 minutes to go before the rope drop they put on a fun musical performance with the "Jamm-itors". Get it? Ha ha! They were really good and got us all pumped up for the day.  Even crabby girl started to wake up. Then it was finally time to GO!! We made a quick walk to our first stop, the Soaring ride. We had chosen our three fast passes and had to make the decision to pick the Frozen ride over Soaring so we knew we had to head there first thing in the AM. We were able to walk right into the ride without a wait. It was the same premise as Soaring over California but it encompassed the whole world. It was really really good, dare we say better than Soaring over California? Three out of four Davis' voted better!
We then tried to pack in as many rides as we could before the crowds picked up and lines got long. We went on the ride inside the big golf ball. Spaceship earth is a futuristic ride through the earth on a slow moving track. 
We had read that it wasn't very exciting but we really liked it. It felt like we were in the Jetsons. As you travelled through different futuristic areas the screen in front of you imposed your face into these futuristic cartoons.
Gemma and I have breakfast in the future!
Then we made it over to Living with the Land ride. This one is on a boat that cruises you through greenhouses and different terrains to learn about our planet and ways in which we grow food. 
There were giant melons growing from an elevated garden.
These huge stalks are brussels sprouts! Again it was really cool to see how Epcot is working with scientists to come up with innovative new ways to grow food for the our world. They have a huge science lab as well and all the food they grow is used in the food they serve at the park.
Next it was time to use one of our fast passes. They work a bit differently here in that you can book them up to 30 days in advance if you have purchased your tickets online. They run out very quickly during peak times and Disney Hotel guests get to reserve theirs 60 days ahead so I had to be sure to reserve them for each park we were visiting first thing when they were released. This meant waking up at 4am in California to get the fast passes as they are released at 7am Florida time. I know it sounds crazy, but not as crazy as waiting in line for 4 hours to ride some of these rides!
We went on the Finding Nemo ride which was really cute. They had real aquariums and then superimposed images from Nemo onto the aquarium as you rode along in a sea shell cart.
Then after the ride you get to explore their HUGE aquarium! We spent at least 40 minutes in the aquarium alone.
They had the sweetest little Nemo clownfish. Then we discovered a whole tank of Nemos!
There was a Bruce the shark play area as well. 
We were starting to wear out since we had been going non stop for several hours already. It was also starting to warm up outside. We really had great luck with the weather. It was time to explore some of the countries and get some food. We had to stop by the gorgeous flowers with the monorail as it passed. We all said how much Granny would love all the gorgeous grounds. That Disney pays attention to detail.
First up was Canada!! Each land is so very detailed and has themed food and drinks from that country. Many of them also have theaters with short films about the land and people from that country. We only scratched the surface of each country, there was so much to see!
Of course we spent a bit of time in the next country, England!!
We felt right at home! They have a really great authentic pub and of course red telephone booths. We grabbed a little nibble and a beer from the pub to keep us going. 
Next up was France!! If this is Paris I'll take it. I was pretty much ready to move in and never leave. The buildings looked authentic, the Eiffel Tower was in the background, and most impressive of all were all the plants and bushes sculpted to look like Disney characters!! Beauty and the Beast was really exceptional. 
We needed to stop for a couple of giant chocolate macaroons!! As we were enjoying our treats we even chatted to Belle as she walked by!! How is that for great timing!
This guy needed a galette and a Kir Royal, champagne with cream de cassis! Bonjour!
Each country had little shops as well that sold themed gifts and souvenirs. They had real french linens and dishes. So beautiful. I had to get a macaroon mug and Lily found a french cat tiny mug.
Next up was Morocco. We felt right at home since Alex and I had just been to Morocco last summer. It was spot on authentic!
I swear  these are just like some of the photos Alex & I took in Marrakesh.
Gemma was taking part in a little activity they offered. Children got a stick puppet of Disney's Duffy bear and then at each country they had a table where the people from that country would draw a character and sign it. One of the really cool things we discovered about Epcot is all the employees at each country are actually FROM that country. The workers in France were actually truly, rude and spoke to me in French. The workers in Italy we aghast when I wanted a coffee on ice, I mean how's that for authenticity!! I guess they get work visas for people from the various countries to come over and work at Epcot for a period of time. The lady in Morocco wrote Gemma's name in Sandscript on the back. 
This was like a scene from the Souks in Marrakech.
Next up was Japan. Lily was so excited as she has had Japan on her travel bucket list for a while now. This gave her a really good taste! We shopped inside the Mitsukoshi department store for a while. They wanted everything! There was no way to get them out of there without promising we could come back tonight before the fireworks show.

We headed into Italy and found Lady and the Tramp.
They have performers in each country either singing or doing a show from that culture. We loved them all.
Next up was Germany. Such a sweet little bavarian village. They have a huge Biergarten we would have liked to try. We had to move on so Lily could get her dumplings in China and Gemma her guacamole in Mexico.
There is a small section of Africa before China that apparently never got fully built. I hope some day they do so we can come back. The Lion King sculpture is amazing!
We made it to China! After Lily had her dumplings we explored a bit and watched a movie Reflections of China in a 360 degree view theater. It was really good and highlighted some spots we remember from our trip to China years ago.
Lily became obsessed with the string puppets, but not enough to part with $50!
Next up was Norway! This was highly anticipated for the new Frozen ride they installed a year ago. As major Frozen fans in the last few years we were excited to try the ride.
We had used our top choice fast pass to reserve tickets so we didn't have to wait the 90 minute wait time and got to walk right on! It was a really great ride. 
It was a boat ride similar to pirates of the caribbean as you float through Arendelle and follow sisters Anna and Elsa. 
The boat even turns on the track and you ride backward down a small slope. It was definitely worth it using our fast pass for this one. They don't have this ride at Disneyland and probably no plans to put it in so it was fun to get to try it.
We found this lovely troll after the ride!
The Anna & Elsa sculptured plants were some of the best in the park! So amazing our own girls could have this job!
We retraced our steps back to the Mexico Pavillion because Gemma was starved and we had to skip it to get to our Frozen fast pass. We took our time wandering about and again discovered it was so authentic. Alex & I had just been to Mexico City for a weekend and it felt like we were right back there. You enter inside a giant Mayan Pyramid to a dark and cool market. The Dia de los Muertos skeletons are so beautiful.
Inside is a restaurant that smelled amazing and also a ride the Gran Fiesta Tour starring the Three Caballeros. We enjoyed the relaxing cool few minutes to sit and rest and there was no line to boot!
It was a fun relaxing boat ride through Mexico with three of Donald ducks nephews in Sombreros.
We finally got Gemma her Guacamole which ended up doused in spicy Tapatio hot sauce. She is our spicy lover but it was too much and not terribly enjoyable. Alex and I shared a Grapefruit Margarita which was delightful. We couldn't linger long because we had our last fast pass to use at Mission Space! This ride had warnings EVERYWHERE about how it was in intense experience and not for the faint of heart. You could choose the mild slower ride or the full experience. We have to say we were pretty brave going in, I mean come on! How bad could it be? The premise is they are launching you as astronauts in a rocket into outer space. The four of us were in one "rocket" together. They even provided barf bags. We survived and it was fun but I can't say I would go again on a full stomach!
We wanted to wander back up to some of the countries we had to rush through and eventually end up in Morocco where we had a dinner reservation.
Gemma was desperate to go back to the shops in Japan to get a pearl in an oyster we had seen earlier. It have vague memories of doing this as a child. The Japanese girls that work there put on quite the show as you anticipate which type and size pearl you will get. It was hilarious.
We ate dinner at Spice Road Table in Morocco. It is right on the water front and we had a great view of the evening fireworks show. Once we were refueled and energized we all got a second wind. Once the show was over the place was pretty deserted.
We got a few more fun shots on our walk back to the main entrance.
A daily total of 20K steps and we made it. The big golf ball was all lit up.
Perfect for one last group selfie before we took an Uber back to our resort and collapsed!

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