Florida 2009 Vacation


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Epcot

[ View photos from October 10 (111 images) ]

Saturday started bright and early with our journey for the day to Epcot. Thanks to our great friends, Thomas and Jen, we had a plan from The Unofficial Guide to Disney book they lent us, which showed several different daily plans for all the Disney parks, based on what kind of group you have in terms of size, number of kids, ages, etc. We also had the mini-version of the book lent to us by other great friends, Chris and Demona, that proved very helpful as well. Of course, since we split up 4 parks into 3 1/2 days, we mostly followed the One-Day plan for Adults. These books and plans are phenomenal!

In general, we noticed that most of the rides are more than just rides, they are experiences. Instead of just going up to a loading area, getting in, riding, then getting off, many of the Disney rides offer more. Some of the rides included a short film, an explanation of a mission, an instruction film, or meandering through a familiar story before the ride actually does what is expected.

Disney also has a feature called a FastPass. There are ticket-like machines for some of the rides where you put your ticket in the slot and get assigned a FastPass time. When you're within the time frame on your pass, you can go onto the ride, bypassing the standard line of people who didn't get a FastPass. This feature can save hours of time if you play it right.

We also got a great bonus with our hotel reservation: a free meal plan. Your park tickets, room key, and meal plan are loaded onto a credit card sized which is what you use for virtually everything while at Disney. The plan stated we got one snack, one quick service meal, and a sit-down meal per person per day. Actually, our card was loaded with credits and you could use them as you choose. Guests are allowed to take food into the park, so if you're willing to haul your stuff around, this is an option. For us, who like to travel light, the meal plan was a great deal.

To start the day, we ate some cereal and biscuits for breakfast and walked just across the parking lot to the bus stop to get on the shuttle to Epcot right around 8:00. We got to the front gate about 45 minutes before the 9:00 opening time, and were about 5th in line to go through one of the turnstiles. Upon entering the park, we followed the plan, which advised us to get Fast Passes for Soarin' and then and head to Test Track for our first ride. We happened to see Tom and John and rode with them. Test Track is a ride in which you sit in a car and go through a series of mock vehicle tests, like what the automakers do to be sure cars on the market are safe and can handle various road conditions effectively. The second half of the ride is more rollercoaster like. Very fun.

Mission Space is a simulator ride in which 4 riders are assigned a mission to land on Mars. Each rider is assigned a post like, commander, pilot, engineer, and navigator. Each party must press the right buttons at the right time, which is what simulates the mission. It's a virtual reality ride. There is an Intense version and a Less Intense version and the line splits so you can do whichever version you prefer. Ginger and Tom rode the kiddy version, John and Neil rode the intense version.

Living with the Land is a boat ride where you flow through different farm crop related exhibits. There is a large garden area your boat travels through which shows some truly amazing growing techniques. Disney is developing these growing techniques for real-life use.

The Seas with Nemo and Friends is an aquarium ride where you sit in a clam-mobile and are guided through an aquarium. Since the release of the Finding Nemo film, Disney has added the film characters to the ride by using holograms (or something!) to make it look like the characters are actually in the aquarium.

Journey into your Imagination is a mock lab where the senses are tested. There are silly professor names on the doors and a funny purple dinosaur named Figment (as in, figment of your imagination). There are some interactive science exhibits at the end of the ride.

Soarin' is a sort of Omni type film where you feel like you're hang gliding. Effects include you being lifted off the floor so you can sway your feet and fans to simulate wind. The film covers all kinds of terrain, snowy mountains, a river with rafters below, etc.

Spaceship Earth is the ride enclosed in the famous Epcot ball. It takes you on a journey through scientific developments related to man's journey into and study of space.

The Universe of Energy is a film in which you're seated in a sort of rotating stage that goes to various theatres showing what Disney shows as the story of energy. It starts with Ellen DeGeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy. The film showcases the Big Bang theory (but of course we have our own big bang theory where God said, "Let there be light" and, bang, there was light). It was so hot outside, and we'd already done so much that Ginger fell asleep during the film.

Then we were off to visit the International Showcase area of Epcot. Wow. Just wow. We rode the Malestrom which is a rollercoaster in Norway. Then explored some of the other countries like china, Germany, and Italy. We watched the film, Impressions de France, in which Ginger almost started to cry she wanted to be where the film was showing so bad.

We met up with Tom, Jenny, Travis, John, Sharon, and Ty Saturday night at the Rose and Crown restaurant in Epcot's United Kingdom area. Dinner was great! After dinner, we walked out to a patio area and watch "Illuminations", a laser-and-fireworks mixed media presentation. There was also a barge on the lagoon that blasted huge explosions. Neil thought that was fantastic, Ginger thought it was a waste of natural gas. There is a large globe that comes out onto the lagoon which shows various images as it rotates. A true technological feat.