For both of us, the answer was easy: A day at Epcot. We detailed the things we would do and enjoy and basically, looked forward to our birthdays arriving next year. We've got the Sea World/Busch APs because they're a monthly deduction from our checking account. Disney, on the other hand, would cost close to 1600 for our family to get passes each year. Not happening, which is why we haven't been in the parks since I stopped working for the mouse in April, 2006.
Most people understand that this is torture for us, to live a half hour from the parks we adore, and yet can't afford. Our friends keep the details of their trips to the simpler variety, rather than the "Oh my GOSH, we're going to Not So Scary and we're doing this, and we're staying here and eating there" nature that makes us cry inside.
Leave it to Jill to do something spectacular about this. I spoke of her participation in the Expedition Everest Challenge at Walt Disney World last week, right? Well, I was proud of her for doing something I haven't, but I was floored at the gesture that came about from it. See, participants in that event were given a one day park pass that could be used at either Epcot or Hollywood Studios. Jill is an Annual Passholder, so the ticket had no use for her (a complaint that many of the event participants also voiced.) She, Heather and Jason were talking about the fact that they were given these tickets that would go to waste.
Jill said "I'm giving my ticket to Suzanne, because I know she's dying to visit." Next thing you know, Heather and Jason also offered to give their tickets to my family, too. Isn't that awesome? Thanks to all of them. We had three tickets, and only had one left to purchase (Chef's very last child ticket, with the current trend of park visits).
That day in the parks that we thought was going to happen on our birthdays, as solo trips for me and Ed? It happened yesterday.
Six years as a Cast Member spoiled us. As a member of management, I had a pass that allowed all of us free entry (with a few blackout dates each year-but I was retail and couldn't travel during that time of year, anyway). The first trip or two, we went in "commando mode" i.e. GottaGoGottaDoGottaSeeNOW! This type of park touring doesn't allow for breaks except for meals. We quickly learned a more leisurely pace, to say "it'll be there next time". Yesterday, though, with only one day to go/do/see, we were back to commando mode. At least we'd already talked about our must do/see things recently.
We got to the park around 10am, with the plan of being there through fireworks. While Ed went with the boys to buy the one ticket, I went through bag check with a backpack. (Beyond tight budget meant I brought waters, propel packs and a few snack cakes for the day.) I got this picture while I waited for them.
The requisite picture at the park entrance. The last time I took one of these, Gameboy was about a head taller than Chef Jr. Now, they're about 3 inches apart.
Spaceship Earth got a revamp since we were last here. I miss hearing Jeremy Irons, but it was woefully overdue for this update-and a corporate sponsor. This is the area that you come out to after riding the attraction.
As the attraction starts, your picture is taken (something new), and at the end, you are allowed to choose your future via touch screens. This is what Chef and I will be driving-it goes underwater! (Makes George Jetson's vehicle seem sooooo lame!)
In our perfect day at Epcot, both Ed and I wanted to spend time in Innoventions Plaza to soak in the atmosphere, especially the music. We *love* the music and lament the fact that Disney has released the Epcot Entrance Medley, but not this loop.
It's not a visit to Walt Disney World without a........ MICKEY BAR!!!!!!! Ed's happy now!
The Itzakadoozie consumption, a tale in three photos...
We saw several things that we hadn't before: The Living Seas revamp has been completed and we saw the new Nemo ride, some playful Manatees and got our pictures taken in a shark's mouth. We visited the Land and rode both Soarin' and Listen to the Land. I took the boys to Innoventions, while Ed tried yet again to ride Mission Space. The ride 101'ed before they even got moving, so he sat in the dark for ten minutes. He still hasn't been able to take a trip to Mars.
Somehow, I got Gameboy to drink Beverly at the Cool Club. It tastes like cough syrup, Thankfully, there are other flavors that he was able to consume to rid his mouth of that nastiness. Hey, Coca Cola company, don't you think that you need to distribute Smart here in the states?
On to the World Showcase and the Food and Wine Festival. No sooner did we pass the first booth did Ed excuse himself. In looking at the offerings for the F&W, we noticed one would be carrying Frozen Mojitos. Next thing I know, Ed is back with one in hand-for me. That thing was soooooooo good. Now I want a margarator. It'd never make a margarita, but it'd be kept busy with frozen mojitos and sangria!
The Canadian movie had been changed since I'd visited last year with my friend Liz, and we all wanted to see it. I was worried that I wouldn't like Martin Short's comedic spin on his homeland, but it was good-and they kept some of the cool footage of the old movie. (Not sure about the new version of the song, though)
Goofing off in England. This picture immediately precedes Ed's photobombing incident.
The characters were out in full force, but there's only one or two that I will wait in long lines to see. Thankfully, I didn't have to do that! She noticed I was wearing her name on my shirt, lol. (Several CMs wanted to know where the shirt came from. eBay, London usher's polo. )
Crossing the 'English Channel', or the waterway that leads from Epcot to the Boardwalk resort area. I have to mention at this point how Gameboy was the perfect child yesterday-very compliant and relaxed the whole day through. It was a perfect day for him.
We had a Louisiana appetizer of Etoufee and Gumbo that was so good you'd want to slap your mamma. I would have taken a full size portion of each. Instead, we decided to eat at a restaurant we hadn't enjoyed before, the Tangierine Cafe. Maybe because we'd always go back to the sit down restaurant, Marrakesh.
Chef got me *again*. What do I mean? I don't eat a full size adult portion most of the time, so I'll make a deal with him to split an adult meal, because kids meals bore him. I describe the Lamb Schwarma platter, he says yes, then he changes his mind. Ultimately, he chose the meatballs (I must get the recipe for these-they were really good) and I still got the Lamb, figuring Ed could finish it off for me.
Guess who ate more of my meal than I did? He is a recent convert to eating salads and I think I figured it out-if they're exotic and full of herbs, he's all over them. I had maybe three bites of my Tabbouleh, he had the rest, raving the whole time. He loved their hummus, which I thought needed more garlic and we fought over the cous cous. I already knew he liked the Lamb, as he loves Gyros.
Meanwhile, Gameboy was quite content to eat a burger while the rest of us enjoyed our Morroccan repast. Afterwards, you see a hint of the mellow Gameboy we had in our company yesterday.
One of my favorite things to do in Epcot is to visit Impressions De France, an 18 minute movie highlighting France with a score that features French classics. I learned that it bores the other three to death, but I was happy. To make up for it, the boys got to make masks at the Kidcot station.
Onward! We arrived just outside the American Adventure Pavillion right before Mickey Thomas's Starship took the stage. Ed and I debated whether to take seats, opting to mill about the area instead. The boys and I headed into Pearville. This made them happy-I think they hate that I hardly buy pears. Today, though, they got Pear snacks-and a look in a funhouse mirror.
Part of the reason for skipping sitting for the show because we thought it'd be horrible. Instead, we have to say that Mickey Thomas' voice is in excellent form. While we were in listening distance, we heard "Nothin's Gonna Stop Us Now", "Jane", "White Rabbit", "Sara", and "We Built This City" (with a sample from the album for the start). I can't tell you how many more songs they did, but it was a 45 minute set, so you can figure it out if you're so inclined!
Next up, a treat for the adults. We arrived at the Australian booth, and too full for the lamb, we inquired about the Wine Walkabout that we'd skipped in years past, only to find there was a FREE wine seminar beginning in 20 minutes. Woohoo, free wine. Free wine we liked! In a first, we sampled Chardonnay that hadn't been oaked and had a nice, lemony zest to it. (it had 'rails')
The rose was also light and had a good solid flavor (it was broad). The Shiraz was a hit for me and a pass for Ed. In a strange change, I've now gone dryer on my reds than him. (we were reversed about six months ago). I took pictures of the bottles because we *will* buy these!
An interesting point the presenter brought up is this: when you go into your liquor store, the French area is broken down into regions. (Personally, I ignore it, because I tend towards further eastern European wines), but Australia is lumped into ONE section. However, Australia produces and exports far more wine than France. The ones we had were from Victoria, but each area has its own distinct flavor.
*Gameboy was so well behaved all day, and especially the half hour that we sat in this seminar that we bought him a Roomerang after he'd asked for a boomerang of his own.
Sunset over the Carp Hotel. Oh, you know it as the Dolphin? Those don't look like any Dolphin I've ever seen!
For the past three years, I've been going on and on about the Durban Chicken I had from the South Africa booth the last time I visited the Food and Wine festival. It was sweet, it had a burn, it was full of so many flavors. There was no way we were passing this one by. Chef wanted his own, even after eating a meal and a half a couple of hours earlier AND a Bosc pear AND a snacky cake or two. I want his metabolism! Instead, he got some of mine. Look for this in a future What's For Dinner Wednesday, because I have to figure this one out. It'd be good with a nice polenta.
You are not the first to pass this vay, Nor shall you be the last...meant we were riding the Maelstrom. Who can pass up seeing some trolls up close? We're the 1% who ride who actually sit and watch the movie afterwards. I think it calms the traveling bug we've got just a little.
Then we were off to check out the new version of El Rio Del Tiempo. Sad part of it is, I still hear the old music in my head while were in the boat. It creates a cachophony in the head, let me tell you!
It was 8pm and the only thing left on our list was IllumiNations, Reflections of Earth. You've got to understand, this is our favorite fireworks show. The CD is in constant rotation in our car and on my iPod. There are easily several thousand photos in digital form of the show, because I know it so well that I can time the pictures perfectly. (Alas, not with Donna's camera)
The walker makes us eligible for the the handicapped viewing area. We decided to sit for the hour remaining and relax. It was a perfect evening, with a nice breeze blowing, the lights twinkling and the woman sitting next to us chatting with Chef Jr about video games. Yes, he found an older woman in an ECV who plays many of the same video games (Zelda and Kingdom Hearts!)
This turned out cool, Chef while waiting for IllumiNations to begin.
All of my pictures are off center, except this one.
The music makes some of us teary eyed, and last night, we added one to that number. It was a nice ending to a great day.
We didn't want to leave, but it was time to go. I had to get a few pictures before departing...
The best part of this one? No more stupid hand to mar the picture!
Chef Jr was asleep before we even got out of the parking lot, and Gameboy was asleep before we hit the first traffic light on our way to our Credit Union.
Thanks to Jill, Heather and Jason for making this day possible.
Thanks to Ed, Chef and Gameboy for sharing a perfect day. Gameboy, you blew us away!