|Old-school Epcot promo from Pinterest|
We packed up the backpack and headed out, first stopping at our resort room window to admire the minimalist but still cheerful display we put up:
We got solar character "flowers" at Walgreens, and watching them dance in the morning light as we left for the parks every day just started the whole day out with cheer. I'm so glad we did this!
We arrived at Epcot after a much easier bag check (it's amazing what a difference the time you arrive makes), and stood at the entrance to the tunnel near Innoventions West, where the Epcot Character Spots are located. At 9:00, when the countdown blared over the loudspeakers, the rope was dropped and people booked it into the Character Spot for Joy, Sadness, and Baymax. Of course the lead few groups had strollers, and it was chaotic as they tried to tuck them aside quickly to keep a place in line. We ended up about 15-20 people back, and it only took about 15-20 minutes to meet Joy and Sadness.
We decided to join the Joy and Sadness line first, because they haven't been meeting there for very long, and their lines can be a bit prohibitive unless you go there first thing in the morning.
Side note: when we walked into the room with Joy and Sadness, all the memory balls on the walls turned purple (fear). "They know I'm here," I said to Tom, bemusedly. (I can get pretty bad anxiety)
When Tom and I meet two characters at the same time, we often end up spending more time with one or the other. Tom talked to Sadness while I talked to Joy.
or rather twirled with Joy....
We had buttons for them both as well. I gave Joy hers while Tom chatted with Sadness...
And then they walked over to join us and I gave Sadness hers (Tom and Sadness had walked so far away because Sadness was showing Tom the view of Baymax from their character area...since Tom was wearing a Baymax shirt)
And solo shots!
Baymax met in the same spot as Joy and Sadness, just in another little area across the walkway. We walked over to Baymax and the Cast Members got a kick out of our outfits. It was pretty clear what (or rather who) we came for that day...
Ahhhhh just look at him listening to whatever I was saying so intently! (dies of cute)
We brought him a button, but I explained that I better give it to his friend to hold since pins and Baymax don't get along so well. He started blinking really fast in happiness. Another neat detail of Baymax: his eyes have zoom lenses. It's hard to see in any pictures, but they're there.
We posed for a shot with him, and he put his arms around us, slowly moving us closer and closer together until we wound up here, laughing with glee. One of my favorite trip moments.
A giant hug for me and a fistbump for Tom, and we were giddily on our way.
We had enough time before our first Fast Pass to go meet Mickey and friends at the classic Character Spot right across the tunnel.
Our first Fast Pass was for Test Track, where we made the most pretty and glittery car ever.
Unfortunately, glitter does not = winning. But it's always a fun ride anyway.
Next we swung by my favorite free beverage spot (Club Cool) for my favorite free beverage (Beverly)! And yes, I'm serious. Most people hate the taste of Beverly, but I find it refreshing. I am a salt monster though, and it tastes like salty seltzer with a bitter aftertaste, so maybe that's why.
We decided to meander a bit around the first part of World Showcase until it was time for Belle's next meet and greet in France. The butterfly tent was lovely, as was the matching topiary right near Club Cool:
A Photo Pass photographer was standing near the Sorcerer Mickey topiary, and had a short line, so we got a few pictures there.
Wandering from Future World to World Showcase, we saw two ladies in a golf cart adorned with a plethora of flowers. We overheard in their conversation that one of them was "Mother Nature," and they were quite charming to behold, so when we caught up with them in England, I asked for a picture with them.
After doing some window shopping in England, we walked over to France, where we admired the Pooh character topiaries on the way...
and then got some pictures of the Beauty and the Beast topiaries before waiting in line for Belle.
I always enjoy meeting Belle, although my first experience meeting her on our first trip in 2013 will arguably remain unrivaled as my favorite character meet ever. This one didn't beat it, but was still fun.
On our way back to Future World via England, we saw a line for Alice. The Cast Member told us his line was closed, but Mary Poppins was meeting around the corner. We joined the line just in time: Cast Member Aeriel shut the line right behind us, which meant she stood there with us for about 20 minutes small talking about Disney geek things and telling people trying to join the line that it was closed. By the time we were the last to meet Mary, the Photo Pass photographer was gone, but Aeriel took about 30 pictures with Tom's cell phone!
By the way...we were so appreciative of Aeriel's friendliness, we stopped by Guest Services the next day to write up a Cast Member kudos for her (I've heard it called several things, but it goes to their supervisor's and is always worth doing if you get great service from a CM)
Mary was a delight...best experience we've had with her. She looked especially gorgeous that day, and talked to us about our daily tea drinking habit. She was worried when we told her we took 4 spoonfulls of sugar, but we reassured her that the mugs we used were really huge mugs, so it diluted it. "Thank goodness...too much sugar like that can make you have tea on the ceiling, and that's rather awkward at times."
Throughout the day, we had seen a handful of ladies walking around with what looked like live flower crowns. Glancing at the title of this webpage, you can imagine this sight intrigued me. I asked one of the people we saw where they got their crown, and they said that there were free workshops at the Festival Pavilion, but the last one was at 2:00, and it was probably full. I decided to go check, and after some wild goose chasing (the pavilion was not where I thought it was...it's over near Test Track) I joined a short line waiting to see if there were openings in the workshop, and there were just enough! So I got to sit and watch a florist demonstrate several creative arrangements and then walk us through making a flower crown with live flowers!
Tom sat on a bench outside the workshop area. It wasn't his cuppa. But I ended the experience with a lovely fresh flower crown to wear around for the next few hours! Disney Magic! How perfect was it that this special hands-on workshop was only happening that weekend? (For Mother's Day)
I convinced Tom to use an extra Fast Pass to go on Spaceship Earth. I think I like that ride way more than he does. But...the cameras were apparently not working for the "Your Future" segment of the ride! We just got generic cartoon people! What a disappointment. Now we HAVE to ride it again next trip so that we can see our future!
We went over to The Seas Pavilion, watched Turtle Talk with Crush for the first time (which was hilarious...he had an obnoxious heckler kid but handled it really well by pausing and saying "Well this is going well..." and moving on), and went to see Figment on his ride. Then we walked back to World Showcase and started around from the Mexico side instead.
First stop was to meet Donald. Poor Don's area in Epcot always suffers from funky lighting from the trees above, so I wound up with a pretty serious case of spotty face in our pictures. That's ok, still fun.
Walking around, we next decided to meet Snow White in Germany. She was super sweet and loved my flower crown and our Baymax ensembles. She deliberated making Baymax a yummy pie, but we decided since he has no mouth she should probably just save it for the dwarfs.
Dinner on our second night was at Via Napoli. We missed out on this restaurant on our first trip in 2013, going to Rose and Crown instead on our Epcot day, but last year we did go to Via Napoli and it became an instant must-do. To anyone questioning why someone would pay $30+ for a pizza....it's not just any ordinary pizza. It's like a gourmet meal vs. fast food. And every bite is one to close your eyes and savor.
We've heard other couples say that the large pizza at Via Napoli leaves them with leftovers. Hahahahahahahahaha!! Not us. We have to carefully divide the pizza evenly and then devour every last scrap. We rolled out of there, satisfied and full, and walked around World Showcase some more.
By now it was about 7:30, and we knew that set up for Illuminations was going to start soon. Also, my choice of footwear that day was highly regrettable. I had bought the shoes I wore that day for our previous trip, (October 2015) and had worn them at least one or two days on that last trip with no problem, but on this day, my lower back, knees, and ankles were killing me. My left ankle especially felt bruised and swollen.
We sat down on a bench in the shade near the International Gateway and deliberated what to do. We decided that since we're not huge fans of Illuminations (It's lovely, but just not something we feel we have to see on every trip), and we've been wanting to see what the Boardwalk area looks like, we would take a ferry at the International Gateway to the Boardwalk, and then hop on a bus at the Boardwalk Resort to go to Disney Springs and check out a few things there we wanted to look for there.
At Disney Springs we went to the art store, pin store, Disney Co-Op, and World of Disney Store. We took a few pictures, but really didn't find much in the way of tempting merchandise, but we really enjoyed looking around the stores.
The D-Fashion (or whatever it's called) store at the Co-Op had a couple of shirts that tempted me, but I wasn't quite loving them, so we moved on. Tom found the Zootopia promotional statues and we got a few pictures as the sun was setting.
Then Tom asked if we could go down to the other end of Disney Springs to check a few stores there for any rare Funko Pops, which we collect. I was feeling pretty worn down, but after he had just sat through 45 minutes of a flower crown workshop for me that afternoon, I couldn't bear to say no.
I've deliberated just not including this part of our trip story in our blogs, to keep it all happy and lighthearted, but the fact of the matter is, somewhere around the riverboat area at Disney Springs, I started to have a serious panic attack. See, to us, this was "Day 2 of our Disney vacation," but to the rest of the world, it was Friday night after dark at the local party spot in Orlando. The crowds were massive, the people were drunk, and there was nowhere to get around the mass of humanity in our way. My severe emotional breakdown made my back and ankle seize up even worse, until I was a quivering and numb mass of goo barely limping along, instead of a human being. Tom kept trying to find out if I was ok, but all of me just shut down completely and I couldn't even answer him. Walking back to the bus, I didn't say a word. On the bus, I burrowed my head in Tom's shoulder and didn't say a word. Finally, back in the room, I collapsed into bed and virtually passed out while Tom was in the shower. It was only 10:00.
Not exactly the happy ending to what was 99% a very happy day, but every now and then, in the middle of a fairy tale, Disney gives you real life. In this case, that reality check came in the way of a very clear reminder that I am not capable of handling Disney Springs after dark on a weekend.
But wow, what a day overall! And on day 3 of our trip, we would be visiting Animal Kingdom and having dinner with two special friends! Stay tuned for that blog, coming soon!