Epcot

I started this post on our second day at Disney World over a month ago . . . then Mardi Gras happened.  So here it is a month later – done, moreso than perfect, as is the usual.

Day two was our driest, most comfortable day.  Chilly but not rainy.  As the prior day was the National Championships, in which Clemson played (and which they roundly lost, sob), we had worn our Clemson orange on day one.  Having properly mourned our loss that night, we woke the next day and put on the Mickey t shirts that Santa had put in everyone’s stocking.  Also, the Prof continued the process of shaving his beard – which I mourn even more than Clemson’s loss – and decided to do it in the most annoying way possible, i.e. in stages.  Day two was the handlebar stage.  Haha yes so funny but now you look WEIRD in all our Disney pictures, dear.

Mickey Shirts.

Mickey Shirts.

Spaceship Earth!

Spaceship Earth!

We did Epcot on this day in particular because it was my niece’s fifth birthday, and a princess lunch in the Scandinavian part of Epcot was on the radar for her birthday celebration.  Here she is, in her Belle dress and fuzzy coat because CHILLY.

Birthday girl at Finding Nemo ride - the aquarium after.

Birthday girl at Finding Nemo ride – the aquarium after.

Finding Nemo was first up – we had a Fast Pass, and hopped right on.  As I recall, the Prof stopped the whole ride trying to leap in with Liam last minute, as Liam ended up riding alone.  Heh heh, sorry ’bout that.  It was a lovely little “underwater” tour, after which you get spit out into a great aquarium area.  The kids enjoyed the aquarium, and I think it also around this time that we did “Turtle Talk” with Crush.  It’s an interesting concept – a comedian stands behind a screen and interacts with the audience, while somehow the turtle himself appears on the screen so it looks like the kids are interacting with the cartoon.  He chose to speak directly to my oldest niece – “the kid in the front with the floppy white thing on her noggin” (i.e. a bow!) – and my sister in law as well.  It was super cute, and the kids had a blast.

Posing after Finding Nemo

Posing after Finding Nemo

Selfie with the ornery three year old

Selfie with the ornery three year old

After the Nemo ride, Turtle Talk, and some aquarium time, we headed for the princess lunch.  When you walk in at your reserved time, you line up and are greeted by one princess (they rotate through) – and it happened to be Belle, Craig’s absolute fave.  The big boys were not interested in a photo with her, but Craiggy was all about it.

Craig gets to see his favorite princess the second time in a row

Craig gets to see his favorite princess the second time in a row

Then we were seated – somewhat squashed in at a table juuuuust big enough for us – and had a lovely meal, interrupted frequently by princesses stopping by for a picture and to sign autographs.

Buzz Lightyear drinks at the princess lunch in Epcot

Buzz Lightyear drinks at the princess lunch in Epcot

Princess in her birthday tiara

Princess in her birthday tiara

Princess number one - Aurora

Princess number one – Aurora

Princess 2, Cinderella

Princess 2, Cinderella

Jasmine - princess three

Jasmine – princess three

Princess four - Snow White, who had the perfect Snow White voice

Princess four – Snow White, who had the perfect Snow White voice’

Birthday girl blows out a candle

Birthday girl blows out a candle

We had some birthday drinks, the kids did a little parade, and they brought Harper a birthday cupcake so we could sing and blow out candles.  It was all very sweet, and I recall that the food was good (including a giant salad bar), though I have zero memory of what I ordered.

Next, we headed over to Chichen Itza, to ride the “Gran Fiesta Tour” with the Three Caballeros.

Chichen Iza - where we rode the Three Caballeros

Chichen Iza – where we rode the Three Caballeros

Inside the pyramid

Inside the pyramid

This is one of the Prof’s favorite rides, and it was cute – just following the three caballeros (Panchito PistolesJosé Carioca, and Donald Duck) through a sort of South American version of It’s a Small World.

After this, we split up – the girls and their parents and grandpa went to meet the Frozen princesses, and the rest of us went to Spaceship Earth (the ride inside the giant silver Epcot ball).  Spaceship Earth opened in 1982, but it holds up ok – it is a walk through history, or literally a ride through history (you sit in a clamshell type thing and ride along a track, from scene to scene). At the end, you get to program your own future using a touchscreen in your car.  I want to say we headed toward Soarin’ after this.  Soarin’ is quite moving – I mean I kinda wish they’d just put that extra “g” on there, but ok.  In Soarin’, you sit on a seat and your feet dangle down.  Several rows of dangly seats hang from some sort of contraption that lifts you up and moves you forward into a concave screen, so that you are surrounded by video.  And then you fly all over the world, seeing beautiful sights, really feeling like you’re flying because you are dangling and your entire field of vision is occupied by the screen.

So we all lined up for this and were placed in seats, except that I stood up to fasten kids’ belts and ended up without a seat.  I had to wait for the next ride – no big deal, and in the end I was allowed to choose a guest to stay with me and ride it again (I picked my SIL!) and given 8 generic fast passes to any ride I chose.  These ended up key later in the evening.

After Soarin’, we stopped with the littles at a Mickey pavilion to have their pictures taken and autograph books signed.  This was cuter than I anticipated.

Playing in line

Playing in line

Ready to meet Mickey

Ready to meet Mickey

Mickey autographs while charmed kiddos look on with wonder

Mickey autographs while charmed kiddos look on with wonder

Signing

Signing

All the kids

All the kids

A scrum around Goofy

A scrum around Goofy

Goofy points out that Liam and he have a similar front teeth situation

Goofy points out that Liam and he have a similar front teeth situation

All smiles

All smiles

Hi Minnie!

Hi Minnie!

My littlest niece is a little Minnie Mouse herself - super cute.

My littlest niece is a little Minnie Mouse herself – super cute.

After joking around with the characters – my favorite moment was when Goofy pointed to Liam’s missing two front teeth and then pointed to his own gap-toothed smile – we headed back out to decide what to do with our fast passes.  We had not ridden Test Track yet, and we had enough fast passes to take everyone minus my MIL, the two littlest kids, and Jack, god love him, who as we have established is not a fan of roller coasters.  so we ended up getting to ride Test Track, which hadn’t been in the cards given the wait and the Fast Passes being all snatched up.  This was particularly thrilling to my BIL and his dad, both of whom had wanted to ride it very much.

We ended up waiting forever in line anyhow, because something broke down – but nevertheless it was worth the wait.  First you line up with your riding buddy (Liam was mine) and design your car.  Our car was . . . well . . .

Tricked out!

Tricked out!

My design partner

My design partner

Ready to race!

Ready to race!

My niece's slightly more realistic car design

My niece’s slightly more realistic car design

The Test Track Crew

The Test Track Crew

Test Track was awesome.  You design your car, preserve the design with your magic band, and then you get into a roller coaster car that recognizes your design and flashes it up on a screen as you “test” certain features, like speed, efficiency, etc., and are ranked among the others in your roller coaster section.  The last test is speed, and this is where it gets awesome – it is SO FAST and it goes outside, which I did not know or expect.  It was frigid outside of course, and really woke us up, but I could not stop screaming with joy as we whipped around the track outside.  So cool – and it was a blast to ride with Liam, my little roller coaster junkie.

After this, we met up with the littles and got dinner.  We stopped by a few hamburger places but nothing was ringing my bell, so I suggested that we head back toward the Chichen Itza area to get some tacos.  Great suggestion – all of us thought it was the best food we had on the trip.  Perfect size, really good, didn’t taste mass produced at all.  Plus we each got a margarita, which was awesome. I hatched a plan to take the boys back to the Magic Kingdom – my favorite park, and one I didn’t see enough of – but in the end they wimped out.  We had just about decided at this time that we would have to spend an extra day at Disney, as Weather had closed several main arteries in Florida (the “polar vortex,” part of what made our own trip so unseasonably cold for Florida, had brought ice and snow to places that never see such weather, and it shut the whole interstate down for a while).  So we decided to make that a bonus Magic Kingdom day, although in the end it didn’t happen and we went home on time.  (Boo!  But much more fiscally responsible!)

Then we headed back on the bus.  The bus was one of the more charming parts of the trip – everyone crammed in, chatting about where they’re from, making a big deal about the kids’ mickey ears or minnie shoes or whatever.  It was really quite sweet – the instant, fleeting community moment.  This particular evening, we gathered together at first to open Harper’s birthday presents.  We had given her a little camera to carry around Disney, which she loved.  She got a few other things, and had a great time with the family fussing over her for her birthday.  After that, we split into our rooms to settle children down.  Every night when we did this, I would wash my feet in warm water, with a sugar scrub I got for Christmas from my sister.  There is nothing more revitalizing for achy feet, I tell you – I’d sit on the edge of the bath and run a little water, then scrub the aches away.  So nice.

After the kids were asleep, we came back to convene in my in-laws’ room for a bourbon and to decompress and chat about the day. The next day – our Animal Kingdom day – promised a chilly raining morning, but sunny skies in the afternoon.  So we all went to bed early, ready to tackle the challenge of staying dry the next morning.

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