Florida – September 2011

Day 6 – Epcot

Saturday 24th September

With a full day at EPCOT planned for today, I wanted to make sure we were at the turnstiles by around 10:00. This slipped by only about 45 minutes in the end and so that wasn’t too bad.

Over the course of the past coupe of days, we’ve seen old pieces of furniture slowly replaced with other new pieces. When we first arrived, there were some rather tatty-looking old sofas but they were quite comfortable. The owner has apparently seen fit to replace these with new leather sofas, which are very nice and all but they have removed the ottoman and now I have nowhere to put my feet up and this makes typing on the laptop much less comfortable as a result. We also received a phone call this morning from the property management office to inform us that someone would be coming in this morning to clean all the carpets. This turned out to be quite fortuitous, as the kids left an small tub full of silly putty on the floor behind the couch which was, of course, knocked over. Although fun to play with, this silly putty is part way between liquid and solid and has seeped into the carpet fibres deep down, making it nigh on impossible to remove, so we’re hoping the caret cleaners will sort this out for us whilst we’re out and about.

This morning’s breakfast sun was by executive proclamation – we would be visiting my favourite Waffle House. Fortunately, nobody complained. We all ate until our tummies were full and were on the road in search of EPCOT by just after 10:00. Even though I had charged the SatNav overnight the other night and we’ve only used it for a few minutes since, it packed up very soon after being plugged in so we had to rely on our sense of direction to make it to EPCOT this morning. Fortunately, once you’re within the Disney World boundaries, everything it very well signposted and we ran into no difficulties making our way there.

With the wallet now another $14 lighter, we made our way to our spot in the car-park which, due to the low park visitor numbers at this time of year, was just a short walk to the main turnstiles. We also managed to get permission to park at the very end of the row, which reduced still further the distance we needed to cover to get into the park.

As we plan on visiting EPCOT twice, we decided that we would concentrate on the front section of the park today and forgo the trip around the World Showcase section. All of the main permanent attractions are in the front section and our Guest Assistance pass would ensure that we’ve be able to make a relaxing circumnavigation around this section without having to worry about spending hours in lines.

By far the most obvious attraction you are confronted with after going through the turnstiles at EPCOT is Spaceship Earth. Indeed, this thirty or so story high geosphere is obvious for some miles leading up to the park also. It’s a continuous train that moves slowly through the sphere and takes you on a journey of communication. It still remains one of my favourite attractions and has been upgraded slightly in recent years.

Exiting the Spaceship Earth ride puts you into an interactive fun area, where there are various things to play with and we spent some time playing with a virtual game where you used strange shuttle sticks to push virtual discs on a virtual floor animation to build city power stations. It was interesting enough but didn’t really work quite as well as it should have for it to have been sufficiently captivating for Jennifer, who ended up just shoving her shuttle stick around the floor fairly aimlessly. Joey did seem to get the hang of it towards the end of the three minute time limit.

Working from Left to Right around this section of the park, we then took in a relatively new attraction called Mission Space. This is a simulation ride to Mars and is really quite good. You get the option of the less intense or the more intense ride option so we elected for the less intense option on account of the kids. This attraction terminated again into a hall full of interactive play things and a small kids play centre, which Joey & Jennifer enjoyed for the few minutes that this kept their attention.

With Joey having picked up the Star Wars bug in recent days/weeks, he all but conned me into agreeing to buy him a double-ended light saber (clearly the single-ended one I bought him in Disney Hollywood Studios wasn’t enough). I hate breaking promises to the kids and he swore that he was promised this particular toy. Perhaps it was the oppressive humidity or the blistering heat of the day but I couldn’t think straight enough to remember whether I or Sandy has indeed made this promise and I just didn’t want to entertain the debate either way so I erred on the side of caution and let him have it anyway. It is his holiday after all and we did tell the kids that they could buy one thing in the park today so this will be Joey’s toy for the day. We arranged to collect it at the end of the day at the front of the park. Joey was somewhat less impressed with this but went with it after some persuasion – which was great as this sufficed as a means of leverage over him that we could use for the remainder of the day if need be.

Next up was the Test Track. We assumed Jennifer would be too small for this attraction so she and Sandy remained in the Mission Space play area whilst I took Joey over to do this one. Once again, our trusty Guest Assistance pass shaved a full our off the queue and we were whizzing around the track at high speeds within 10-15 minutes or so. Joey seemed to like this but did complain that it made him feel a little queasy afterwards.

With the odd stop here and there for toilet breaks, popcorn, ice-cream, and a few photo opportunities, we spent the bulk of the day on the right-hand side of the park visiting in turn The Seas, The Land and the Imagination attractions.

At The Seas building, the Turtletalk with Crush attraction was just about to start so we filed into that crowd and sat through a very entertaining virtual chat with Crush. We then made haste over to the Finding Nemo ride, which is another slow-moving, continuous train ride not too dissimilar to the Spaceship Earth ride. The only real difference was that it was a Finding Nemo theme. After a brief stop in the shop and the Shark photo opportunity room, we went back onto this for a second time at the kids’ request. At this mid-afternoon point of the day, as we’ve come to expect over the past few days, both kids got a little cranky and stress levels were on the rise. This was compounded by the fact that there was an afternoon downpour that soaked our buggies and their contents whilst we were inside the attraction building. As might be expected from an attraction called The Seas, the remainder of what was on offer in this building was one of the world’s largest indoor aquariums but for whatever reason, despite it being a fantastic attraction in its own right, this just didn’t seem to hold the kids’ attentions, so we reluctantly gave up on it.

We had been booked in for the character dining at the Garden Grill restaurant in The Land at 18:20 but it although it was only 15:30, we thought we’d try our luck at getting an earlier seating to try to get some energy into everyone. When we got there, we were told to come back at 16:00, which was when the restaurant was supposed to open, to see whether this would be possible. In the meantime, we took in the absolutely fabulous Soarin’ attraction. You’re hoisted up in rows of 8 in front of a huge screen such that your entire field of view is presented with images of flying through the air. The contraption that you’re sitting in then moves in concert with the movie and the resulting feeling of flying (soarin’) is really quite impressive. All of us loved this one.

We were back at the restaurant by opening time and, as luck would have it, our reservation was changed to accommodate that fact that we were there now and in need of sustenance. Whilst dining on a slowly revolving mechanism that ensured a constantly changing landscape around us, Chip & Dale, Mickey & Minnie & Pluto characters visited the tables & booths to present all the parents with fantastic photo opportunities of them giving the kids cuddles. As Disney are still aware of Joey & Jennifer’s recent birthdays, both kids were also treated to a special little birthday cake, complete with candle for them to blow out. Joey’s face in particular always lights up at the sight of Pluto, so it was a real treat to see genuine happiness in his eyes throughout.

The one remaining attraction in The Land was a slow-moving boat ride through hydroponics gardens, where the theme was sustainable food production for the world. Anything slow-moving is always a bonus, as it affords us the opportunity to sit and relax without having to worry about anything in particular for a few minutes.

Our last main building of the day was to be the Imagination building, where we would meet Figment, a loveable character that Sandy and the kids all adore. Another slow-moving ride through Figment’s tour of the senses was enjoyed by all – twice. At the end of this ride, another hall of interactive goodies to play with awaited us and I managed to suppress my natural reflexes at one of those photoshopped photograph opportunities just to keep Sandy happy.

With the rain still slightly but persistently dribbling onto the park, this rounded out our day at EPCOT. We made it over to the front entrance to collect Joey’s double-ended light saber after a brief interlude at the dancing fountains.

Back at home, the routine kicked into gear and we’re now all but ready for some shut-eye. It looks like we’re all going to be asleep before 23:00 this evening – bonus!