I haven't forgotten about blogging! Just been busy, busy, busy.
Tuesday, Jan 5, Day 2
Since we did the MK on Monday, we went for the second park to open at WDW: Epcot. Walt originally designed EPCOT: Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow to be an actual working futuristic city. That didn't happen, but the Epcot theme park is still a wonderful place. It's often termed the "adult" park, because it manages to be educational AND fun. It's also a science geek's paradise.
As usual, I was running late, but we managed to hop on over to World Showcase in time for our breakfast with the princesses at Akershus, the Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway pavilion. I wore the Belle tiara I'd bought specifically for the occasion, and Caroline wore her red Snow White headband. We looked pretty princessy, even if we skipped Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
Belle greeted us as we walked in. Of course, the freakish weather continued, so a blast of freezing air rushed in every time someone opened the door; Belle wore a beautiful gold cape over her ball gown. She was breathtakingly gorgeous. I'm pretty sure I stuttered when she told me that she liked my tiara. Akershus has a cold bar with fruit, yogurt, muffins, bagels, etc that we helped ourselves to, then our lovely waitress brought us a big plate of hot food for us to share. The food was delicious, but we were almost too excited to eat when we spotted Cinderella making her way across the room.
You always see the princesses in show and parades, but it's nothing compared to seeing them up close. Cinderella's gown was a gorgeous powder blue brocade. We got pictures with her and watched as she interacted with the children at the next table. Next was Aurora, Caroline's favorite. Flora won out that day - her dress was pink. Then came Snow White - and I've never seen a more convincing Snow White. She was wide-eyed and cheerful, and her voice sounded exactly like Adriana Caselotti, the voice of the original Snow White. She was my childhood favorite, and carrying on my tradition, I said to her, "Please watch out for those apples over there!" to which she replied, in all seriousness, "I only eat the green ones!"
Ariel came to our table next, in a lovely turquoise dress that set her red hair off to perfection. We pretty much gawked at them all for the rest of the meal, excited as five-year-olds. It was pure magic.
We ambled back to Future World where we stopped in at Mouse Gear to buy some warmer clothing. I picked up a really nice gray fleece with Mickey and Minnie embroidered on the chest, and a pair of cozy furry pink socks. Finally warm, we headed over to Ellen's Universe of Energy. I can honestly say I learned more about energy from this ride than I did in school. (Actually, I've learned more from Epcot than I have from all my science classes put together. Money on Epcot well spent.)
We went for Mission: Space next. A Cast Member randomly gifted us with a FastPass for the Orange Team, which is the more intense version of the ride. We got up to the pre-ride briefing when Caroline decided that she didn't like the look of the spinning simulator capsule, so we chicken-exited out of there. That ride isn't one of my favorites, anyway.
Test Track was next on our list. The standby wait time was 110 minutes!...but that's okay, because we were holding FastPasses for it. :) Thank goodness for those things. I can't stand to stay in the TT queue for very long because of all the crazy noise. While in line, a weird dude asked if he could take his picture with us...I guess because we were wearing princess headpieces? I'm not sure. Then it was time for the ride! Caroline loved it, and I'm a big fan of TT myself.
By that time we'd burned off our breakfast, so we headed to The Land for lunch, stopping at Club Cool along the way. Club Cool is a little place sponsored by Coca-Cola that offers free samples of beverages from around the world. Some of the drinks, like the ones from China and Costa Rica, are awesome. Others, like the awful drink from Germany, make you want to gag. I got some very interesting pictures of our faces when we tasted it.
We skipped on Soarin' because Caroline's not a fan of heights, and we lunched at the Garden Grill, which is The Land's healthy food court. We each had Chinese food; she had cheesecake and I had strawberry shortcake. It was all delicious. The perfect ride to do after lunching at The Land is Living with the Land, the behind-the-scenes boat tour of Epcot's greenhouses. They use a system called hydroponics, which is way of growing crops using water and air, but no soil. It's one way Disney conserves on their property. All of the food grown in those greenhouses is shipped throughout the World! I like knowing that when I eat here, I'm getting good vegetables and fruits grown without pesticides.
After that, we headed to the Living Seas pavilion, to find Nemo. We checked out the aquarium tanks and watched the Turtle Talk with Crush show, which is a big hit with kids and adults alike, duuuude.
World Showcase was next on the agenda. WS consists of eleven country pavilions, beginning with Mexico and ending with Canada, with the U.S.A. in the center. We rode the boat ride in the Mexican pavilion and had our pictures taken with 3 Caballeros Donald Duck; shopped a little in Norway; tried some nasty chocolate in Germany before going on a Kim Possible mission there; admired the Venetian masks in Italy; and defrosted in the American Adventure. The sun was beginning to go down, and it was cold. Tuesday and Wednesday nights were the worst yet. It was time for our ADRs at Merrakesh in Morocco, so we skipped a few pavilions to get there on time.
I've only eaten at Merrakesh one other time, one year ago, and I loved it. The atmosphere was very ethnic and cool; the food was great; and we were entertained with actual bellydancers! This time, however, I wasn't as impressed. They were crowded. In fact, our table was set up in the middle of a walkway, so we were constantly in the way of traffic. Behind us was a storage closet, and the waiters kept grabbing extra tables and chairs from there and setting them up like ours. Um...maybe you should just tell people you're full, because that's probably a fire hazard, and it certainly doesn't make for an enjoyable meal.
I ordered the lamb shank with couscous, and Caroline got the beef kabobs with hummus. My lamb wasn't as tender as it was a year ago, but the couscous tasted better than I'd remembered. Strange. Caro liked her food fine. We ordered baklava and some other dessert to share, and that was the absolute best part.
We stumbled out of there into the freezing cold and sought shelter in the France pavilion. There's a pretty nice video of France in the theatre there, and the shops are nice. My favorite part about the French pavilion is the beautiful stained glass window designed like the artwork in Beauty and the Beast! We waited around for Illuminations, then traveled through the UK to find a spot to watch the show.
I hadn't seen Illuminations in a very long time. Not remembering made the effect even greater. In addition to the usual WDW fireworks and amazing music, the tops of the pavilions light up in homage to those countries (all except for Japan and China, which are exempt for those countries' religious views). A barge is brought out on the lake with a giant, spinning metal globe with LED lights covering it. The globe lights up in wonderful colors, depicting scenes from all over the world as it revolves. It's a wonderful show, and of course I cried. "We Go On" is one of the best songs ever. I looked behind me for Caroline, but she wasn't there. I figured she was cold and not in the mood for fireworks, so I didn't think much of it...
...Until I found her in the bathrooms. We are pretty sure it was food poisoning at Merrakesh that did it. Poor thing was sick for a long time, even on the bus and past midnight that night. What started out as a wonderful day turned into a nightmare. We prayed that she'd be okay the next day, because who wants to be sick at Walt Disney World?
How did she fare the next day? Stay tuned for my day 3 recap!
Until next time, see you real soon!