Sun. Dec 8, 2013:
Even after going to bed at 2am I managed to get up at 9:30am, I was excited to get my vacation started. Greg and Tasha had to go to a time share presentation (we were having no part of it, we were there as guests) which was part of the reason they got the accommodations so cheap. They had no interest in going to Disney World, and so our plans were settled: we would start off at Epcot Centre (as to my persistent demands) and finish off with Magic Kingdom. We bought our tickets at the resort, alas for all the time saved and convenience: they did not have an easy shuttle for us to the park. We would have to wait 2 hours and pay $30. Greg ended up driving us instead.
We jumped out of the car and ran for the tram from the parking lot to the part entrance- it turns out we could have walked faster. We followed the attraction numbers on the map, starting with #1 which just so happened to be inside the cool dome thing. The ride was a “roller coaster” through history (mind you, a communications-focused history as the ride was sponsored by Siemens). The animatronic robots were too creepy; it made me wonder if just one of them might be a real person, ready to jump out at us at any moment. Innovention East was our next stop: it was boring and it sucked, we just cut through the pavilion, enjoying the respite from the blazing sun. They did have one exhibit where you could create your own roller coaster and then experience a simulation of it, but I was far too lazy to stand in line and then have to design a coaster- plus I would be really mad if later in the day there wasn’t time for something much more fun.
Up next was an astronaut training simulation wherein I learned that I would make a lousy astronaut. Each car sat 4 people who were sent on a “mission” to Mars (I say “mission” because Gary Sinise was in charge, they could have gotten someone more believable, really). Each of us had a role and had to push buttons when prompted. I was not having it, partly because my buttons were lit up the whole time but mostly because I was trying to keep it together- somehow I did not expect to get jostled around that much. For some reason there was already a landing strip and a few airport buildings on Mars before we got there- weird.
This might seem odd but I was excited about the car simulation (wet roads, speeding, and stopping). As we got closer I noticed a track around the top of the building and something whizzed by and disappeared with a whoosh- crap, it looked scary i thought. For some reason the sign by the entrance made me think that this would be a 3D simulation in front of a screen like the astronaut training, and that calmed me down. It was only when we got to the front of the line and had to get into a little car on a track that I realized it was not a simulation in front of a screen. The ride started out with some boring stuff like skidding and stopping and swerving… then all of a sudden we were blasted to an outside track at a high speed, going around sharp corners on an angle. The track I had seen outside earlier was indeed part of the ride and I had forgotten about it until we were whizzing along it- all the while I was screaming my head off. It was so unexpected, the sudden speed and sharp steep curves!
I was really excited to go to the Cool Club to sample sodas from around the world- not just because of the heat but also to soothe my poor throat. The soda from Italy, Beverly was horrible, it was bitter and gross. People watched Brent’s reaction as he drank and decided against it. And then he went back for seconds, unable to believe how bitter it was. By far the best soda was the melon Fanta from Thailand.
Refreshed and full of sugar we set off for the international section of Epcot to find food and 2 boat rides that Brent remembered as being interesting. At the entrance there was a giant Christmas tree (I still could not get used to all the Christmas stuff, it did not jibe for me with the hot weather) with holiday greetings in different languages. The lines at the Mexican pavilion for food were too long. We went into the Incan pyramid shaped building in search of the first boat ride but we couldn’t find it. Back outside we found a sign saying that it indeed was to be found inside. Great, we got to back inside where it was crowded, noisy and dimly lit. We found it nestled at the back of the building, next to an indoor patio. It is no surprise that there wasn’t a line-up for it. There were some really freaky guitar-playing singing skeletons the ride. I dared Brent to drink the water (The Simpsons episode reference) but he told me that the episode was a reference to the It’s A Small World ride. I added it to the list of things I wanted to see. Apparently there are multiple rides with creepy little animatronic cartoon children.
The African section at Epcot was just named “The Outpost” which is weird because all the other places were individual country names. Norway was packed; there was a 20 minute wait for the boat ride. We left for China, which was also busy. We had chosen the worst time to look for food: lunch hour. In Germany the lines were too long for mediocre (I am assuming) bratwurst, but we did find out that in this section of Epcot… you can drink!! You can walk around from one pavilion to the next with a drink in hand. I cannot express how amused I was by this. The lines everywhere were too long, so when we saw a little coffee and donut stand without a line we made a beeline to it. at the last second (still very amused) I decided to indulge, despite the heat, in a coffee (hot coffee at that) with Kahlua. I was almost beside myself with giddiness as I walked around a Disney Park, at noon, drinking Kahlua. The donuts (we could not decide between chocolate icing and pink, therefore got 2) were surprisingly good. There appears to be a different standard for theme park donuts in the US (or they are pumped full of chemicals to stay so “fresh”) because I am used to them being stale, gross and overpriced in Canada (think Coffee Time at the CNE).
The USA pavilion just had a movie playing (no Hall of Presidents- turns out that it is also at Magic Kingdom). I was getting antsy now; I wanted to go to Magic Kingdom. We breezed through Italy, Morocco and France as they were all very busy. Inexplicably Aladdin merchandise (and someone dressed up as Jasmine) was placed in Morocco, it made no sense. Someone dressed as Belle in France and someone dressed as Mulan in China both at least make sense. In the France pavilion you could buy Givenchy and Dior stuff- who would wanna walk around carrying a hundred dollar bottle of perfume?! The UK pavilion had a tea shop and red phone booths, as can be expected. Canada was disappointing to say the least: a French band singing Christmas music, a totem pole and a log cabin. No Timmies?! No beavertails?! Not even a mountie. To be fair we did not go watch the movie but that is because I was antsy to get on the monorail to Magic Kingdom.
Brent had read in the map brochure that there were a few cool attractions in the Land Pavilion. The line for the hang-gliding simulator was listed as 40 minutes- way too long. Brent was really excited about the next ride: it promised 9 pound lemons. It was not clear if it would just be pictures of them, or actual physical lemons we could look at. It is no surprise the line was so short- the ride seemed boring. My guess was correct at first. Until we rode through some doors and found ourselves passing through a fish farm with tanks full of shrimps, eels, trout and more. From there we passed into a greenhouse. Even there the Christmas spirit was alive and kicking, someone had put up a snowman. But still no lemons, I was starting to think he had misread the brochure. That is until the voice-over announced that the next greenhouse was full of innovations such as… giant, wrinkly, 9 pound lemons!! On our way out we checked the wait time for the hang-gliding simulation: it was now up to 60 minutes.
The Imagination Pavilion looked like a giant child magnet nightmare. There was no one at the Finding Nemo ride, we got to walk right up and get into a clam. The whole ride was sideways and rather crappy, it made Nemo seem like a jerk for just taking off with no reason at all. It was only at the end when the images of Nemo and company were projected onto the window of an actual fish tank (complete with sharks) that things got interesting. Once off the ride we were free to roam the mini-aquarium, looking at sharks and sting rays. Even the manatees came out. They were so big and dopey looking, one was nibbling the others back and fell asleep in the process. They were just floating like lazy creatures.
We passed through Innovention West on our way to the monorail. It was also really boring, but we did learn that before you drop and roll, you should cover your face. In fact, the monorail ride to the transportation hub where we had to catch another monorail was more interesting, hah! It seemed like a reasonable plan at the start of the day: half the day spent at Epcot, half at Magic Kingdom. No one else seemed to agree, as they were all over at Magic Kingdom. The place was crammed, there were so many people!
My main goal was to go on Splash Mountain. On our way to it we saw that it was only a 10 minute wait for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (based on which they made a movie), I couldn’t resist. The ride stopped in the pirate town where everyone was singing and we were stuck for a few minutes. It felt like eternity though, beucase we could hear the audio tracks from another portion of the ride and they were overlapping in a loop. Plus we kept getting bumped from behind as the “boats” piled up in a pseudo-traffic jam. I was getting really sick of hearing “yo ho, yo ho, a pirates life for me” or whatever the words were. It was awful.
There weren’t any good food options on the way to Splash Mountain (we thought we could eat lunch while waiting in line). The sign said it would be a 35 minute wait. Apparently the sign did not take into account hoards of people who paid extra to skip to the front of the line with their stupid fancy Fast Passes. It was really irritating to see them saunter by while we had to stand there, not moving an inch and when we finally did start moving we would abruptly stop. It did not help that there were cheerleaders further back in the line who deemed it necessary to chant for their parents, it was infuriating to say the least. Every corner we turned we felt that we were closer to the line, that is until we saw more people up ahead. We ended up snaking in a queue outside, up a set up stairs, around a corner, down a ramp (from which through the windows we could see the ride itself), around another corner and finally we were able to board. I was quite hangry by the time we boarded the ride. Finally we were on the ride, going through a really weird forest where a bear and a fox were fighting over a rabbit- until it stopped under three singing possums, a frog on a branch informed us that we were having technical difficulties. It was all too weird for me. The story made no sense at all, especially when we passed through the Land of Laughter. What was going on?! I just wanted to go on a famous log-ride! As always, I screamed during the actual drop which is always scarier, steeper and faster than I anticipate. Soaking wet and shivering, we were so close to the exit when the ride stopped again- right beside a waterfall of run-off from the splash. Needless to say, the photo they snapped of me on the ride was hilarious (somewhere out there, there exists a hilarious archive).
I was hungry and tired of standing in lines, when I saw a corndog vendor with no line-up I nearly ran towards him. Brent wasn’t keen on corndogs, but apparently he had never even had one. Lunch was settled. We had no other real food options as the whole place was crammed. Plus corndogs are handy food you can eat while you walk to It’s A Small World. Alas, it was closed for renovations, so much for getting to see some more creepy animatronic children singing horrible songs. On our way we saw that two fireworks had been set off at the castle- and that was it. Two fireworks, before the sun had barely started to set.
We weren’t sure if we would be able to squeeze in another ride after Thunder…I mean Space… Mountain (I kept making that mistake all day long). It was a long walk through empty queues before we got to the actual line-up, and that coupled with the fact that the line moved incrementally made the half hour wait seem that much shorter. I was still mad whenever I saw a car go by with 1-2 empty seats. I did not anticipate screaming that much, but it turns out that Space Mountain is an indoor roller coaster… that is completely in the dark. I was terrified for most of the ride. When we got back outside it was dark, the sun had set while we waited in line. We were hungry but they only food we could find was more corndogs. There was a giant bottleneck at the exit as everyone tried to leave at once. We went off again in search of food, but most of the stalls were now closed. We joined the slow bottleneck and made our way out of the park. There were no fireworks on account of the special Christmas show starting at 7pm, only after that would there be fireworks. Thankfully the monorail system was fast and efficient and in no time we found ourselves at the transportation hub, hailing a cab to take us back to Orange Lake. Disney World was fun, it is one of those things you have to see but I am no diehard fan (I wish I had known how merchandise crazy these people were, I would have brought cat ears with me- everyone was wearing Mickey or Minnie mouse ears) and I doubt I will go back.
The cab dropped us off at the front desk, which is all well and good when you are staying in a hotel, but when on a resort? We had to get a map from the front desk and slowly, stopping by streetlamps to check the map, made our way back. It was a good half hour walk, but no shuttles (the resort is so big that a shuttle bus operates) passed us… until we were 5 minutes away. If we had been on the shuttle we would have missed the sprinkler watering a stop sign.
No sooner were we back, we headed out again with Tasha & Greg. There was going to be karaoke by the pool. I ended up getting a souvenir cup because it had cheap refills on drinks. I was surprised to see that I could get green chiles on my burger, they are unbelievably good. I refused to sing karaoke, my throat hurt from all the screaming. Plus it was a lot more fun to watch Greg sing Kryptonite as requested by our server, or Brent (literally) shouting the lyrics to Sunglasses at Night, or Tasha having to bleep a Nikki Minaj song. We ended the evening by sitting in the hot tub until closing time. It was a nice relaxing way to end an exhausting day, my legs hurt so badly.