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Published: June 13th 2017
Captain Hook topiary
EPCOT World Showcase England
EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival
Geo: 28.5377, -81.3774
In order to make the most of EPCOT on one day, I suggested to the ladies that we needed an early departure (7:10) from the Sheraton in order to get to Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village, check in, check our luggage and get to EPCOT by 9 am when it opened. Amazingly, we did depart from the Sheraton at 7:10; equally amazing it took us 90 minutes to check in. Mainly because I had made the arrangements for one villa that sleeps eight; but I wanted all to share in the cost and to have separate accounts on their Magic Bands.
Magic Bands: See detailed information on Day 4 (March 25).
We left our luggage at the bell stand, signed up to be texted when our room was ready and headed off to EPCOT by way of Disney's Boardwalk. We had been given a hint to go to the Boardwalk Hotel and tell them we were going there for breakfast. No parking fee because we were staying at a Disney property -- all we had to do was swipe our magic wands (MagicBands). We parked in self-parking, passed through the lobby and boarded the boat ride to EPCOT. Easy peasy.
Mickey & Minnie topiaries
EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival
And it made departing after the fireworks (IllumiNations) a breeze.
We enter through World Showcase near England. The rides in World Showcase weren't open yet. But it was March and it was EPCOT's Flower and Garden Festival, so there was plenty to see, including 100+ topiaries, which were grand. After a more than a few photos, we made our way to Test Track for our first attraction. We hadn't been able to get Fast Passes for this ride ahead of time, so we decided to hit it first. We did the single lane -- meaning we filled in cars where there were empty spaces, so we didn't necessarily ride together. But we had absolutely no wait. The ride -- which involves a NASCAR-type test car -- is fast but not roller coaster like. There are speed turns which are thrilling but not really scary.
Next we did Spaceship Earth which in many ways was similar to what it was like when I first visited 20 years ago. The ride is a tram takes you past scenes from history, but toward the end there more up-to-date segments that involve new technology ... including your own face in a virtual reality video.
Then we did
the Living with the Land attraction. Again, not only similar but identical to 20 years ago. Boring.
Next we encountered a butterfly house that had been constructed for the Flower & Garden Festival. BTW -- There are 30 million blooms and 100+ topiaries that abound at EPCOT during the Festival. The butterflies were lovely and so were the flowers.
We had a lunch reservation at Chefs de France in World Showcase. Yum. As princesses, we felt no need to scrimp -- most of us ordered the Prix Fix menu which included appetizer, entree and dessert. We loved it all, especially the dessert that was brought to our birthday girl (the first of many special things done by Disney because we had a birthday girl in our midst). Restaurant is beautiful. Food was delish. Service was divine.
Following lunch, we had a group photo taken by a Disney Memory Maker photographer. We bought the pass ahead of time and had group photos taken throughout our stay. Details on Day 4.
Next came the first of our Fast Pass rides: Mission: SPACE. Three among us were scared off. They had their pictures taken with Sleeping Beauty and with topiaries around the park. The three brave ones
where not so brave, and chose the green ride -- the calmer of the two. We entered a space capsule and participated in a space mission that is virtual reality. The G Force when the capsule takes off is similar to what they use to train astronauts. It was a thrilling ride.
The other ladies went to our second Fast Pass: The Seas with Nemo & Friends. They were bored; said it was to "kiddy". The three adventure riders found new strength, reboarded Mission:Space and went for the big kids' version: the orange ride. Very similar to green, except the orange version made us green around the gills. I was afraid I might have to utilize the barf bags provided. Yikes.
Our third Fast Pass was for Soarin' -- an absolute must do. It's a hang glider ride where your feet dangle as you pass over California -- again, virtual reality in iMax fashion, with gorgeous views. You mustn't miss this. However the wait at one point was 2 hours and 20 minutes, so utilize a Fast Pass for this.
NOTE: Having used our three Fast Passes, we now (but not back then) could get an additional Fast Pass at a kiosk.
EPCOT Butterfly House
EPCOT Flower & Garden Festival
was time to wander through some of the countries of World Showcase. A Dole Whip ice cream at one place (a major disappointment after all the hype on Disney blogs). A Starbucks at another. We stopped for photos a variety of places, including the big lake where there were oodles of flowers, and in China, Alaska, France, England and more. We checked out more than one shop. ;-)
Then we made our way to Le Cellier in Canada for dinner. Five-star. VERY hard to get a reservation. I called at 7 am the first day I could make reservations (180 days out) and my only choices were 4:40 and 7:40. We took 7:40. I kept checking back for a better time but never got one.
The meal was sensational. The steak with risotto and the maple creme brulee were to die for.
Our meal was interrupted by the launch of EPCOT's IllumiNations -- the laser and fireworks show from the middle of the lake. We didn't want to miss it, so the staff excused us while we went out and viewed, and then returned for dessert and coffee. They gave us all champagne in honor of the birthday girl.
We slipped out of the
EPCOT Future World
park easily, heading back through England, across the lake on a boat, to Boardwalk. There we strolled through a few of the shops, buying fudge and other taste treats. Out to the parking lot and an easy exit back to our hotel.
Now it was time to actually take possession of our room in Kidani Villages. It was dark, of course, so no animals to see. But the room was quite nice ... although a little too dark for all of us. We had a full kitchen, and living/dining area, two bedrooms and three full baths. It suited us just fine.
We moved our breakfast food from our coolers to the refrigerators, plugged in all our electronics and collapsed into bed. A full day at EPCOT is an exhausting one -- the park is huge and there is a lot of walking to do. I would venture 10 miles from start to finish. It was very hard on my knee (I've had lapariscopic surgery); I was glad I had packed a knee brace in my fanny pack.
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