Oh, how I love Epcot. I have loved it ever since it opened, and it didn't let me down this trip. We found it to be the most interesting park, and there were a lot of special family moments during our visit there. Plus, aside from Goofy, we honestly aren't into Disney stuff that much (I know, horrors!), so we didn't feel an overwhelming need to continue to see the Mouse at the Magic Kingdom.
Since we were staying at an Epcot resort, the kids and I walked over on Wednesday morning while Mike was at his conference. The back entrance takes you into the World Showcase, where all of the international pavilions are.
We looked at Great Britain.
Zach: "Mom, why do they have telephone booths, when you can just use a cell phone?" Ah, youth.
Then there was Canada, which has the best restaurant, Le Cellier, that we've never been able to get into.
Here's the thing. If you want to eat in a Disney restaurant, you really need a reservation. And reservations open up six months in advance. No kidding. I started booking six weeks in advance, so there were a couple of places that were long gone and never opened up again. And this was during the low season!
But I digress. We headed straight to the rides in Future World. The Land Pavilion was Bailey's favorite, for some reason. The Living with the Land ride is a great big educational snooze fest, but she loved it so much that she made Mike ride it when we met up with him later in the day. We got some fast passes for Soarin' while we were there, and then we went over to the Seas Pavilion, where we rode the Nemo and Friends ride and saw Turtle Talk with Crush. This is just like the Laugh Floor at the Magic Kingdom, where computer-generation makes it look like the turtle is talking to the kids and interacting with them. The adults are all like, "that is the coolest thing", while the kids are like, "sure, we talk to giant turtles all the time."
Bailey was too scared to get into Bruce the shark's mouth.
But she was picked to interact with Crush! She's such a ham, and afterwards, people were asking me if I was the mom of the girl whose favorite food was noodles, since that's what she talked to Crush about.
Then the kids and I went over to the Spaceship Earth ride in the big dome, and it was soooo good. They have a computer screen on the seat so you can punch in a bunch of stuff about how you want your future to be, and at the end of the ride, your story appears. I loved everything about this ride.
Then we realized that we better use our Soarin' fast passes, so we hightailed it back to the Land pavilion. Soarin' is one of the most popular rides at Epcot, and they basically swing you around above an IMAX of California. Bailey was fine until we got strapped in, at which point she started shrieking in terror, "Help! They're trying to kill me!" Fortunately, as soon as we started the ride, she loved it. Loved it so much that she wanted to go on it again. Because it really is pretty awesome. This is the one ride you have to do first, or you wait a long time, and the fast passes run out by early afternoon.
We met Mike at this point and toured the international pavilions for a bit.
We loved Norway!
Of course, we bought Viking helmets. Wouldn't you? Then we ate at the Kringla bakery. So good. Bailey was hankering to take Mike on the Land ride again, so Zach and I rode the Maelstrom ride in Norway. Short, but really good.
We took the obligatory, "look, I'm holding the giant golf ball" picture.
Then Mike wanted to see Captain EO, the Michael Jackson 3D film that was playing in the Imagination pavilion. About five minutes into the film, Bailey royally freaked out. It was just too loud and scary. On the guide map, this is the only thing that is marked frightening for children. Of course, we saw that part too late.
So we left and found these fountains outside the pavilion, where the water hopped in the air between the various fountains.
Then we went back into the Imagination pavilion and played with all of the interactive exhibits. Mike went off to ride Test Track by himself since the rest of us chickened out. After that, Zach wanted to do this super cool Kim Possible thing where they give you a cell phone device thingie and you get missions to save the world. It sounded great and it's free, so we did two missions - one in China, and one in Germany.
We got clues which led us to many locations within the various countries, and without it, I never would have gone inside the China building and seen that they have a Terra Cotta Warrior display. One of my life dreams is to see the real Terra Cotta Warriors in China, so this was pretty cool.
The best part about the Kim Possible missions was that through the device, the kids could cause things to happen that the non-Kim Possible people didn't know about. Like in China, he pushed a button, and a statue came up from the middle of one of the ponds to give him a secret message. And in Germany, it made the glockenspiel play. The other people were like, "look, a glockenspiel!", and Zach was all, "it's because of me, you fools!" So this was definitely a hit, and we would do it again.
We spent a lot of time in the Germany pavilion. My mom is German, and I was born there, so we just sort of gravitated there.
We ate dinner at the Biergarten restaurant, which was fantastic. I was so glad we had reservations, because many people were being turned away. It is always Oktoberfest there.
As soon as Bailey heard the music, she ran up front to dance. Of course. At the end of the session, they would turn down the lights, sing Silent Night, light the Christmas tree, and give chocolate coins to the kids. Bailey figured this out pretty quickly, so every time they would start with the Christmas stuff, she would run down to the stage to get her chocolate coin. She's no fool.
Then, Bailey decided she need Mike to dance with her, and trouper that he is, he did.
When the other parents saw this, they all danced with their kids too.
Dads were holding daughters, mothers were dancing with sons, and it was all so good. It was Christmas in Germany, the food was delicious, we were seated family-style next to four really nice people, everyone became a big community, and at that moment, I had a rush of happiness just fill my heart completely. You know how that happens sometimes, when you just feel pure joy? I was so happy to be in that place at that time with my wonderful family that I couldn't stop smiling. Just magical.
And it probably didn't hurt that the beers were gigantic.
It was pretty late after we left the Biergarten, so Mike and Bailey rode the boat back to the Yacht Club while Zach and I stayed for Illuminations fireworks and laser show. Prior to the show, we happened to be walking by the Test Track ride and decided to go in, since the line was short. Basically, the premise is that you are in a vehicle being tested for safety. So you go through different tests, including a crash test, and then you hurtle around this track and go around turns at high speeds. As soon as we were seated, Zach had a major freakout. Of course, as we were hurtling, he was the one with his hands up in the air, yelling, "woo hoo!", while I was screaming in terror. Yeah, it was a good ride.
We found a place on the rail of the lagoon for Illuminations, which has always been my favorite part of Epcot. Zach asked me what it was, and I was trying to explain that there's this globe that opens up and they show videos on it and stuff, but really? You have to see it.
After the show, Zach and I walked back to the resort, where both kids collapsed into the kid-sized chairs in the lobby to watch old Disney cartoons. Of course, they wore their woven pullovers from Mexico and Viking hat from Norway.