Friday, September 25, 2009

Walt Disney World Vacation - Day 7: Epcot Center

IllumiNationsThe seventh and final day of our Walt Disney World vacation was spent at Disney's Epcot Center. It was probably my favorite of all the parks. I was eagerly anticipating Epcot Center, mostly for the World Showcase -- where countries from around the world are are showcased, including food, gifts, and even street shows. My hope was to get some schnitzel in Germany, but that didn't quite pan out, for several reasons. I'm quite regretful that it didn't, but my wife has promised to make up for it by taking me to one of Indy's German restaurants.

Soarin'We started the day at Epcot by riding Soarin', clearly the most popular ride at Disney's Epcot Center, as the cast members responsible for the ride meet the crowd at rope drop and guide them directly to the ride (those who wish to go, which was the majority of the crowd). The ride simulates a hang-glider soaring over the earth. It is quite realistic and an understandably popular ride, but not the best ride at Epcot, by any stretch of the imagination.

Mission SpaceIn my opinion, the best ride at Epcot -- and possibly the best ride of all the Florida Disney parks -- was Mission Space. Four riders join forces as the Commander, Navigator, Engineer, and Pilot of a space ship that is destined for the red soil of Mars. Each rider has his/her responsibilities in order to achieve mission success. The ride is very realistic (coming from someone who has never been to space, much less Mars), even simulating the G-force of take off. My son, who was quite hesitant to ride most of the rides during our vacation, enjoyed this ride -- twice, first riding the tame version of the ride with my wife, then the intense version of it with me. It was a blast, riding Mission Space with my son (no pun intended).

Snow WhiteOf course, like every Disney park, there was the usual compliment of characters that my daughter just had to meet, starting with Snow White, Moulonand followed by Moulon in the World Showcase. it was especially fun to meet Moulon, as she spent quite a bit of time talking with my little girl and even trying to get my son involved in the whole character thing. She almost succeeded.

My daughter, who has never even seen Disney's Moulon seemed to enjoy her time with the character, and I won't be surprised if she asks to watch the movie some time in the very near future.

While at Epcot, my son and daughter got to spend a little time talking with Crush the Turtle from the movie Finding Nemo. It was pretty cool, as Crush appears in a real tank and actually carries on a conversation with kids in the audience, talking with them and answering their questions and even addressing them by name. When my son was called upon, he asked Crush if he ever got to build anything.

Direct video link.

Our time at Epcot was interrupted in the early evening as we had reservations to have dinner with Cinderella and her family (the step-mother and step-sisters) at 5:00 pm. It was a very interesting event, as my little girl got to spend some time with Cinderella, Drizella, Anastasia, and Lady Tremaine. We were lucky enough to be seated very near the door that the characters entered the room from, so she was one of the first to see each of the characters.

Greeting pictures:

Lady TremaineAnastasiaCinderellaDrizella

One of the best parts of the event was that my little girl was chosen from all of the boys and girls there for the first dance with Cinderella. I don't know who was more excited, my little girl, or her parents.

Direct video link.

After dinner with Cinderella and her clan, we returned to Epcot for extra magic hours, a time set aside after normal park hours for guests who are staying in a Disney resort. We also watched Epcot's fireworks, IllumiNations, from the World Showcase. It was one of the best displays of the entire vacation, as well. This video isn't the highest quality available on the internet, but it is the view as we saw it.

Direct video link.

If I had it to do all over again -- and we probably will in a year or two -- I would seriously consider dropping Hollywood Studios from the agenda and spending an extra day at Epcot Center.

This was our first family vacation, and the first trip to Walt Disney World for myself and the kids. We had a great time, and we're all having Disney vacation withdrawal now. I told my wife earlier today that I'm ready to go some place fun, like Kings Island, just to help me get over the Disney high. I never thought I would enjoy the House of Mouse so much, but that was before I considered taking my kids there.

I would highly recommend this trip to anyone with young children. It was a time filled with some of the best memories of my life.

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