Mar 4, 2014

Disney 2014: Day 3 (EPCOT)

Loyal Blog Reader and Proud Floridian Travis would like me to tell you that Monday was another absolutely stunning day, weather-wise. He's not wrong. It was.

Having discovered what a short walk it was from the Beach Club Villas to the back gate of EPCOT the night before, we just walked to EPCOT that morning. Five minutes, max, even with Amelia. Yep.

Due to the unexpected popularity of the OFFICIAL LICENSED DISNEY AUTOGRAPH BOOKS (in all caps because I'm convinced that's how Jake says it in his head), we decided that our first stop needed to be the Character Spot, where the kids could meet and greet the most popular characters first thing. Then we'd be free to roam the park and ride the rides the rest of the day without feeling like we needed to try to find the characters.

Jake led with the book. Again.

He also inspected as Mickey signed it. Again.

I mean, look. This OFFICIAL LICENSED DISNEY AUTOGRAPH BOOK has to last a lifetime. That autograph had better be high-quality.

Once an autograph had been secured for each book, we got our family photo.

Did I mention that Jake and Nick didn't want to wash their facepaint off from the day before? No? Yeah. So Nick's was largely intact, and Jake just looked vaguely seasick.

But when the folks you're having your picture taken with are wearing giant animal heads, I suppose it doesn't much matter if you're still sporting a little facepaint. What DOES matter is that you watch over their shoulders as they sign your OFFICIAL LICENSED DISNEY AUTOGRAPH BOOK, just to make sure they're spelling their names right.

Sometimes you've even gotta change sides to make sure you've got the best view. GAW. Micromanage much, Jake?

I simply cannot IMAGINE why you wouldn't want to see a picture of us with every single character. Especially with Goofy. Because Amelia calls him "Goopy."

For some reason -- maybe she was starstruck? -- Amelia was totally freaked out by Minnie Mouse. Minnie was really nice to her and tried to give her a kiss and everything, but Amelia was having NONE. OF. THAT.

I was lucky to get her in the picture at all. (If you haven't noticed already, every day I dressed for inevitable wrestling matches with my toddler. I was the only person walking around the parks in shorts and a T-shirt -- everyone else on the planet was wearing long sleeves.) (I never once regretted my decision.)

As we left the Character Spot, the boys saw a bank of payphones on the wall near the building's exit. They squealed and ran over to them ... "OOH! What are THESE? PHONES?"

Guess what ride our kids DON'T like at EPCOT. Soarin'. I know. It's like everyone's favorite ride. You don't have to tell me. People are all up in arms because my kids think it's boring. But we didn't ride it this year.

We went straight from the Character Spot to Test Track, which has been redesigned since we were last there. I was a little concerned about it, since word on the Internet was that it's not as good as it used to be.

Dad and Nathaniel took advantage of the new Single Rider option -- in which you can jump in line to take any available single spot in a car -- while Jake and I stood in line to use our Fast Pass. Since it was Jake's first time to ride Test Track -- and it goes up to 70 mph -- we wanted him to ride with one of us first. Turns out, he was totally fine with it and would have been fine on his own anyway. Ha!

As for the redesign, we liked it just fine. One of the new elements involves waiting in line, which is an improved experience. While you wait, you can "design a vehicle" using touchscreens.

Jake loved it!

There were enough screens in our holding pen for every family/group to have one of their own.

It made the time go by more quickly, which was nice, even though our wait with our Fast Passes was only about 20 minutes. And once we got on the ride, the wait was forgotten! Test Track is my favorite ride of all the Disney parks, I think. I love speed, and I love cars. (I don't love hair in my face, but, opportunity costs.)

Dad and Nathaniel were able to ride Test Track four or five times in the Single Rider line in the time it took me and Jake to ride once. So, if your kids are willing to do that, make a note of it. Worth it! Even more effective than a Fast Pass.

After Test Track, we enjoyed a yummy lunch in Mexico at La Cantina, which sits right on the lagoon. It's a beautiful place to eat, because it has plenty of covered seating, and every table has a great view of the water.

But beware: you're also surrounded by birds. Lots of them. And they're not afraid of people. My mom got up to use the restroom, and my dad made the egregious mistake of getting up to get extra napkins while she was gone, thereby leaving their plates unattended.


That bird literally flew up on top of their table, picked up one of my mom's tacos with its feet and dropped back down to the floor to eat it. RIGHT BESIDE US. I mean, that's ballsy. He didn't even fly away with it! Just sat there and ate it right in front of us, with one foot on it in case we tried to take it away. Points for cajones, EPCOT bird.

I took this from the other side of the lagoon, looking back at La Cantina. And the birds. We ate in the gazebo with the red roof that's just to the left of that yellow stucco building with the arched windows. See how it sits right there on the water? Lovely. But beware the tortilla-eating birds.

After lunch, we decided to explore the countries a little more, which was an all-new experience for us. Four years ago when we visited EPCOT, we didn't even make it to that side of the park at all. This time, we found Donald Duck in Mexico!

Ima let you finish, but there's nothing cuter than a pantsless, grinning duck in a sombrero and striped poncho.

We continued to make our way around the park through the countries, stopping for one of the best snacks of the trip in France: crepes and ice cream! We happened upon France at the exact time that a pair of acrobatic entertainers were beginning a show in an open area, so we settled in to watch while we ate our snacks. This is the point at which A Good Blogger would share pictures with you of said performance. However, I think my dad was the only one who took pictures of it, and I don't have any of his pictures on my computer.


But I DID get pictures of Captain Hook?

And look at me, holding Amelia's OFFICIAL LICENSED DISNEY AUTOGRAPH BOOK up there for him to sign. I learned from the best, Internet. I learned from the best.

We decided this was a good day, ahem, for Amelia to take her first nap of the trip, so we jumped on the boat for the quick ride back to the resort. Note: the boat took a good bit longer than walking.

Lesson learned, but it was a nice boat ride.

And guess what. When we hopped off the boat, some people were getting married at our resort. On a Monday afternoon. Huh.

While Amelia napped that afternoon, the boys played in the pool. Best pool ever, by the way. Big pool post coming up soon. We spent a whole day in the pool on Wednesday.

After she woke up, we walked back over to EPCOT, specifically to Norway, to our supper among the princesses at Akershus.

We'd done this meal on our last trip, even though we only had boys, just because we'd heard it was a great meal. And it was. But THIS time, it was more about the princesses, less about the food.

First thing when you walk in the door, you meet Belle!

I have no memory of this, but apparently Nick or Amelia stuck Nick's Stitch (of Lilo & Stitch fame) cap on my head right before we went into the restaurant. I'm just now realizing this.

When Amelia first caught sight of Cinderella, she started yelling, "Cin-brella! Cin-brella!" and trying to get a closer look at her.

I had to hold her to keep her from falling out of her high chair, because she kept craning her head around and bending over trying to see the princesses as they visited other tables. I nearly died.

Of course, once Cin-brella finally came to OUR table, Amelia was like, "What? Someone's where? I don't know what you're talking about."

And, "Guuuuurl, you best get that hand OFFA me."

"Gah. Okay. ONE."

"I said ONE."

"Mop, can I get some help here? I said ONE."

"Wait. These go with the OFFICIAL LICENSED DISNEY AUTOGRAPH BOOK? Well why didn't you SAY so? Take as many as you want!"

"Look! I'll even let Ay-yell hug me!"

After your delicious meal, my parents and sister took Jake and Amelia back to the resort, and Grayson, Nathaniel, Nick and I rode the monorail over to the Magic Kingdom to stay until it closed at 11:00.

 The boys were so excited to get to go close the Magic Kingdom down!

I rode Space Mountain with Nathaniel while Grayson rode Tomorrowland Speedway with Nick.

Then we switched up, and I rode Tomorrowland Speedway with Nick. He's a pretty good driver!

We ended the night with multiple (I can't even remember how many) runs on Thunder Mountain Railroad, which is really fun at night.

It was a treat for us to get to spend some time just with the older boys, and I'm sure it felt like a treat to them, too.

Another long but fun day on the books!

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