Jan 27, 2010

DisneyWatch 2010: Day 4

More things I've learned since we've been here:

- The big ball at EPCOT is as big as I thought it would be. It is shinier than I thought it would be.
- Bringing comfortable shoes is a MUST. I'm so glad I brought my running shoes.
- I understand why people would continue to come back to the same resort after their first visit, even if you have no way of knowing if there's a better one for you. Familiarity counts for a lot.
- Just because you have a reservation and a confirmation number doesn't mean that they will have a record of it anywhere in their system.
- Just because your reservation is for 7:10 and they DO have a record of it doesn't mean that you will be seated at 7:10.

Monday was EPCOT Day. I really didn't know what to expect other than what you guys and our IRL friends had told me before we got here.

We had our picture taken in front of the big ball as soon as we walked in the front gate -- which, by the way, is the closest to the parking lot of any of the parks we've been to so far. It was nice to just walk from our van straight to the gate instead of having to take a tram.


Yes, I look pregnant; no, I am not pregnant. Note to self: Wear more black.

Jakey has taken to grabbing a map wherever we go. He loves to act like the grown-ups, so he has to have a map, too. He walked right up to the display by the photo spot and picked up his own map for the day. Then, of course, he had to open it up and inspect it.



Of course, the older boys like to look at them, too, but they eventually put theirs down.



Their interest peaks as we enter a park, and then they're ready to turn the decisions over to us.



I knew that the first thing I wanted to do at EPCOT was get in line at the EPCOT Character Spot. It's a central location where you can stand in line and get pictures with several of the characters, and I really wanted to do that and then be less structured the rest of the day as far as pictures were concerned. BUT CHARACTER PICTURES ARE VERY IMPORTANT TO ME. ALL CAPS IMPORTANT.



We were pretty far back in the line but only waited 31 minutes before starting our stint with the characters. I didn't think that was too bad, considering that we were getting five pictures at once ... if they'd been separate, we would have waited far longer.



The line area had about seven flat-screen TVs mounted in it, and it ran continuous vintage Disney cartoons. Even Jake was pretty captivated by the cartoons, so the wait really wasn't bad at all.



Each of the characters acted as though we were the very first family they were meeting that day.



They gave all of our kids high-fives, and they all blew kisses to my mom. It was great.



We'd no sooner walked away from the Character Spot when Nicholas spied his Most Favorite! Chip and Dale! He begged us to stop, so Grayson went off to get Fast Passes to Test Track (the racecar ride) while we waited in line for the chipmunks.

He specifically asked to have his picture taken with them alone:



And then we joined him for a family shot.



And you know, I color-coordinated our shirts this trip (at least mine and the boys) so that it would be easy for me to remember what they had on if we got separated, as well as the fact that it would be pretty in my scrapbooks.

I failed to account for the chilly mornings and evenings during which they would be wearing their camouflage soccer fleece pullovers. Huh.

The weather, while cool, was absolutely gorgeous. It was overcast when we arrived at the park (see picture #1), but the clouds burned off and left us with clear blue skies.



As is par for the course, Jake rode about half the day and walked for half the day. Luckily his grandparents are total suckers for his cuteness and don't mind bending halfway over to hold his hands (or carry his juice cup).



We'd heard great things about the Finding Nemo ride and Turtle Talk afterward, so we made sure to do both. Only a five-minute wait! SCORE!



The ride was OK, but the kids weren't absolutely bowled over or anything. But they LOVED Turtle Talk! All the kids get to sit down in front of the auditorium, while the adults sit in rows in the back.



Through the wonders of modern technology, Crush the sea turtle (a surfer-talkin' dude) talks to the individual kids, picking them out of the crowd by what they're wearing and asking them questions.



It was really entertaining for the kids and adults alike.

Next we went over and took advantage of our Fast Passes and Rider Switches at Test Track, a GM-sponsored racecar ride.



Grayson and the big boys rode first, and then I joined them for their second ride. Here they are waiting for the doors to open:



The cars hold three people across, so Nathaniel was on the inside, I was in the middle and Nick was on the outside.





The ride goes up to 60 miles an hour, but it feels much faster because you're in an open-air vehicle and the engine sounds are so amplified. I took a few pictures while we were going at top-speed:



The pictures give you absolutely NO sense of how fast we were going or how much fun it was.



But I felt compelled to share them with you anyway, especially because I'm about to tell you all you need to know about Soarin' ... for which we got Fast Passes and Rider Switches but ended up using only four of the FPs and the RS not at all.

Soarin' sounds fun, since it "simulates hang gliding over the Golden State of California." However, even with a wind machine blowing in your face and the slight rocking of the chair you're strapped into, if you have just ridden Test Track YOU ARE ALMOST BOUND TO FALL ASLEEP.

It is hard to ever forget that you are in a chair in an IMAX theatre setting, because of all the feet:



That was our view from our chair ... scenery capped off by feet. I was trying to emphasize the f-u-n of the ride and was sort of leaning over to Nicholas (whose face I wish -- OH HOW I WISH -- I had a picture of during this ride) and saying things like, "WOW! This is so cool." "Oooh, that's beautiful!"

And finally Nick looked at me and said loudly (over the swelling orchestral music), "MOMMY, THIS IS JUST A MOVIE AND WE ARE SITTING IN A CHAIR."

Well, alrighty then. THAT'S the Disney spirit, son!

So next we went on the lookout for our Daily Snack on the Disney Meal Plan, and did I Tweet this or blog this ... I'm too tired to look. I am still somewhat confused by the plan and how you find the places that offer snacks and quick service meals, like on the maps and stuff. If we ever come back, someone is going to have to give me a serious master class on the freaking meal plan.

Anyway, we found a great little ice cream shop where two scoops -- TWO SCOOPS! -- counted as one snack for each of us. BRING IT.



Nathaniel chose a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of chocolate.



Nicholas chose two scoops of mint chocolate chip. Why get something else when you love the first something so much?



But I swear to you that the ice creams were as big as their heads. And I really could try to find a less flattering picture of myself once again, but you know, it's 1:39 a.m. and I have to be up at 7:00 in the morning, so I'm going with the mood shot of all of us at the ice cream shop. It honestly was FABULOUS ice cream.



Jake "chose" one scoop of chocolate, and he fed it all to himself with a spoon. I only had to help when he pulled it to the floor once because the ice cream was so dense his spoon got stuck in it.



Don't worry. Neither he nor the ice cream were any worse for the wear.




After we finished our snack, we walked out and my dad got this great shot of the gorgeous day, the big ball thingie and the monorail. I love it.



As we closed in on the end of daylight, the big boys, Grayson and my dad went to ride Mission: Space. I kind of wanted to ride it, but I felt like nothing could live up to Test Track, which I could have ridden five more times without getting tired of it. I LOVE SPEED.

While they rode Mission: Space, Mom and I took Jakey to Innovention West, which had an exhibit that he really liked: VELCRO.


Toddler moms everywhere, listen up: it's a huge felt wall and they have all of these shapes cut out Velcro or whatever, and the kids can just rearrange them to their heart's content. HAPPY FOR 45 MINUTES, I TELL YOU. Brilliant.



Finally it was time to head over to Norway, where we were dining at Akershus. Somewhere along the line, I'd forgotten that it's actually a Princess meal ... I was just thinking it was a BIG meal. Nope. Lots of princesses! We were greeted by Belle when we arrived, and they took really nice pictures of us with her that were included with our meal (UNLIKE ANIMAL KINGDOM, WHERE WE PAID $30 FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF A PHOTO WITH DONALD DUCK). So that was really nice.

And then -- AND THEN! -- lots of princesses came to our table. And the boys were like, "Huh?" I mean really, take a look at Jake's body language with Cinderella:



All three of them are pretty clueless when it comes to the princesses, although they've seen parts of The Little Mermaid and all of Enchanted. (Enchanted isn't so much helpful, but it has kind of a princess in it, right?) They were a little cooler with Sleeping Beauty:



They played it cool and let all the princesses call them their "princes," and they ate their pizza, which they declared to be "GREAT." When Ariel came by, I somehow managed to get a very un-Ariel-like picture of her. I wonder how many of THESE there are floating around out there? Probably not many.



Again, Jake was sort of perplexed and fascinated with these princess creatures! That kept cracking me up.

We wrapped up our supper right at 9:00, just in time to catch most of the nightly fireworks/lights show over the lake. (Many of you recommended it.)



We hadn't thought we'd want to be at the park this late, so we hadn't made it a priority to see the show, but I thought it was OUTSTANDING. As a matter of fact, we may try to get back there to see it again before we leave.



The whole show is set to music, and it's very inspiring!



They use the lights on the buildings to great effect, and at the end all of these huge torches light up around the lake. It was just stunning!



On our way out of the park around 9:30, we took a couple more pictures of the big ball thingie.




And poor Jakey was so tired, he didn't even make it back to the stroller rental hut before he fell fast asleep sitting up.


What an adventure our time here has been so far! Can't wait to experience more magic.



5 comments:

maura said...

So glad you are all having a nice time. It is such a "magical" place. We just got back and my husband is already thinking about next year. If you go back to epcot be sure to go to the kringla bakery in norway and get school bread- it is the best! we got it both days we spent in epcot. The cloudberry horns are great too.

Lisa said...

That is funny about the feet. I have only ever ridden on the front row of Soarin, so I have never had that view.

Mark said...

I've just spent time reading all your Disney blogs. I thought you wouldn't have access so I hadn't checked back. Should have known you'd still find a way! : ) Your trip sounds fabulous and you guys are certainly making the most of your time there! I'm taking some notes of things for when we return, hopefully in a couple of years. Our kids were really just toddlers and the Dumbo ride at Magic Kingdom was as much of a ride they wanted to go on! Thanks for sacrificing your sleep to do such detailed posts and sharing your fun with us stuck in the cold! Kim

Rachel said...

I can't wait for your posts...it's almost as good as being there with you all. :) Thanks for sharing.

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

I'm glad you all are enjoying the Disney posts! It feels a little indulgent to post so many pictures from one day, but we've never been before and I wanted our friends to be able to experience it with us!

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