Saturday, December 17, 2016

Merry Christmouse! Disney World Christmas Trip Post Day 2: Epcot and Disney Springs

Happy second day of our trip! Day two dawned with us quite satisfied. Our room at Pop Century this trip far exceeded our last experience. Last time, the front desk clerk put us in a room that was literally across the corner from the lobby, so very close and convenient, but that also meant it was loud and had lots of traffic. Plus it was a handicapped accessible room, which meant the bathroom didn't have a separate bathtub...just a tile floor and a shower curtain across part of the room, with a pocket door that had rusted and was hard to open and close. Every time we took a shower, we would flood the bathroom. Not fun. Anyway, this time our room was a normal room on a quiet corner, and the experience was  much better. Art of Animation is still our "home" resort, but Pop is definitely an acceptable alternative. 

We walked out the door to head to Epcot nice and early, but I stopped to snap a shot of our room window decorations. 

The tree on the little Minnie and Mickey stand has lights that can be turned on. 

Next, I wanted to share my outfit for Epcot day. I knew I would be meeting Belle at Epcot, so I dressed to honor her. 

I love these ears. I saw them on our May trip and finally bought them the last day. I saw plenty of young kids wearing them, and grinned. Pretty glittery iridescent ears work for all ages!

Since we had discovered on the first day that the Mickey pencil case we were having characters sign was delicate, I decided to carry it by hand the second day. I took photos of the signatures on it on the bus when we were traveling to Epcot. Good thing I did...two of the signatures, Donald and Daisy, seen below, were ruined/obliterated by the end of the trip. :/ I was so excited to be able to share a fun new idea for an item to have autographed. It was especially handy since, as a pencil case, we could store the pens for signing inside. But sadly I have to say it was a bust. Though the majority of the signatures came home safely, it was only by being very very careful. We couldn't recommend it to anyone else, and will be finding an alternative for the next trip.

We got to Epcot bright and early on our second day, knowing that we had to stretch and prepare for...the Frozen Ever After 5k! Let me explain. Frozen Ever After is the new ride that opened in the summer to replace the Maelstrom ride in the Norway pavilion. The ride has been super popular ever since, posting wait times of one to two hours. It's almost impossible to get a fast pass too...I was online for my fast passes right when I was able to reserve them, and still didn't get one. So every morning, there is a crowd that rushes to Norway as soon as Epcot opens to catch the ride before the wait times get insane.

The hilarious part about this is that Disney doesn't allow people to run. So instead, you have large crowds of people, strollers, families, all power-walking as fast as they can to Norway. Let  me tell you...power walking can make your legs burn almost worse than jogging. I was pretty exhausted by the time we arrived at the ride, but it was worth it...we only had about a twenty minute wait, and I also got to see the fun queue instead of being rushed on if I had had a fast pass.

Plus...I got my first red card of the trip!!

The guy in front of me Mike Wazowski'd me, but this was the on-ride photo I didn't even know they were going to take.

The most impressive animatronic in the ride is definitely the Elsa. I shot a quick video.

As we were leaving Norway, I looked back at the queue and noticed the wait time was already at 50 minutes. The Frozen Ever After 5k is worth it!

Tom went ahead to see what the wait was like to meet Anna and Elsa, while I stayed behind to snap photos of the most beautiful fairy-angel statue I've ever seen in a window in Norway. This photo is obviously from later on, after dark, but it's nicer than any of the daytime shots I got.

Anna and Elsa had a 40 minute wait, so we decided to check back on them later, and go meet Joy and Sadness.

Please make note of Tom's shirt. I discovered it back in June or so when I was shopping for his birthday, and I realized immediately that it would be the perfect shirt for an Epcot day. See, Joy, Sadness, and Baymax all meet in the same Character Spot area. Joy and Sadness have their own queue and area, but if you walk over to the exit, you can see Baymax from there. So this shirt was absolutely perfect. I had to get it for his birthday.

Sadly the photographer didn't capture it, but when Sadness saw Tom's shirt, she collapsed on top of the console. It was pretty hilarious.

She pulled him over to the entrance area to wave to Baymax. 

And then we got a group shot.

Two more sweet shots of Tom and Sadness.

Before we left, Sadness acted like she was going to leave with us so we could get a photo of her and Baymax. (Just jokingly) The attendants stopped her. ;)

Next was Baymax! I hope he never leaves the parks. Meeting him is such a joy. Last time he made us laugh ourselves silly when we took a group shot and he squeezed us both into him until we were smooshed.

This time I had a pin for Baymax that showed him floating in a bunch of Disney balloons being held by a balloon vendor.

I love this shot of him listening to Tom.

Baymax group shot!

Hugging Baymax!

I think this was a fistbump. He's so cute when his eyes close.

The best part for me was when I went in for another hug. I squeezed him tight...he really is so very huggable...

And he shuffled me around in a full-circle dance, the end of which you can see here, with me grinning in delight.

While we were in line to meet Joy, Sadness, and Baymax, I was on the Disney Parks app looking up when and where characters were meeting that day. And I noticed that Belle wasn't on the schedule anywhere. All the other Epcot princesses were, but Belle wasn't on the schedule. I started to worry I may not get to see her in Epcot, which would really mean not meeting her at all, since the only other place she meets at WDW is Enchanted Tales in MK, and that's really more a pre-done performance than an actual meet and greet.

So we walked over toward France, not realizing that World Showcase doesn't entirely open until 11:00. We stopped on the way to get a photo from a photographer on the bridge between England and France.

So since half of France was open, we decided it was the perfect opportunity to try a tip Denise of MouseSteps gave us last time we hung out at Epcot together. So now I'll pass it on to you.

Go all the way to the back of France to the gift shop. In the back of the gift shop is a bakery. And order a baguette. It comes with delicious salted butter. We ordered the baguette and a fountain drink for Tom. And get this...the fountain drink cost more than the baguette. All this delicious freshly baked bread for $3!! It's the best most delicious deal on a snack in Epcot, and a new must-do for us.

So we sat there and casually ate the baguette, relaxing and slathering butter on every piece.

By the time we were done, it was after 11 and the rest of World Showcase had opened. We walked the rest of the way across Epcot, and who did I see standing there in blue in her usual spot by the water? Oh yes. Belle. I actually admit I teared up with relief to discover I could meet her after all.

Belle was lovely. I don't ever anticipate the experience of Belsa being matched or outdone, but this was probably my second most enjoyable experience meeting Belle.

She loved the skirt of course, and then I showed her my Belle magic band as well.

I showed her the pins I'd brought her...the flower crown pin, along with one that featured a drawing I'd done of her. I explained that I'd give the pins to her friend since her dress didn't have pockets.

At one point Belle asked me what my favorite part of her story was, which I thought was such a sweet question. I explained that I loved her love of books, since I'm a librarian. And then admitted that when she runs up to the hillside and longs for more than a provincial life I cry every time.

A quick Belle hug, and we were on our way. What a lovely experience!

We continued walking around World Showcase, stopping in Japan to look at all the fun anime merchandise, and in Germany to buy a few ornaments for gifts. We walked by China and I noticed that the next meet and greet for Mulan was only about ten minutes away, so we joined the line and met Mulan. Her gown has changed since the last time we met her, and it was an opportunity to give her her flower crown button.

Walking the rest of the way around World Showcase, we peeked in on Anna and Elsa again and saw that the line was now only 20 minutes. So we went for it.

This is an artwork I've seen in various places around the parks for the last couple of trips. They had it up on the walls around Norway while they were working on construction, and in one of the gift shops in Hollywood Studios when it was Frozen-themed. I've always admired it greatly. Here it was done as a full-on woven tapestry. Want!!

The Summerhaus was themed so beautifully. Everything had an authentic Norwegian feel, but with little Frozen details, like these carved wood corbels.

The art was also charming, period-looking paintings that featured the trolls, Anna and Elsa having a picnic with their parents as children, etc.

First we met Anna, who pointed out to us that the landscape painting across from her area actually had a tiny Arendelle castle in it you didn't see until you looked closely.

She also liked her pin.

Anna was one of only two or three princesses who hugged Tom on the trip. Tom is always so very respectful of the princesses and any females we meet on our trips. He never hugs until they offer.

Next was Elsa. It's hard to see in the photos, but her skin was so stunningly porcelain in person! She was also very swoopy with her cape.

I wish I could remember what Tom was pointing out here! It looks like he's giving her a lecture.

Meeting Anna and Elsa was so enjoyable, I wanted to ride that euphoria with a trip to Club Cool, so when we emerged from World Showcase, we headed over there and I took several drinks of Beverly. When I was done, I set up six cups of my favorite beverage, "Nectar of the Gods" as Jeff calls it, and did a little video "In Defense of Beverly."

After this, we had fast passes to meet the characters in the Character Spot, so we said hello to Mickey.


And Minnie.

Tom is so sweet. When a female character doesn't ask to take his arm, he stands back respectfully for the photos.

We walked around a bit more, stopping by Mousegear to do a little shopping. I decided we should check out the Disney Visa cardholder exclusive meet and greet. In this M&G they never tell you who will be meeting there until you go through the line and see. We were surprised to see Minnie again, but we hadn't met Pluto yet.

At this point, it was getting pretty late in the afternoon. We had a dinner reservation that evening at Via Napoli, but not until 8:10 or so. It was about 4:00, and we could have easily found more to do at Epcot until then, but I realized that with the way we'd structured our trip this visit, this lull might be the only opportunity we would have to pop over to Disney Springs to see a few of the new things that have opened this year. So we went for it.

Disney Springs had a lovely tree with a photopass photographer there, so we got a couple photos.

Whenever we walk by, I have to get a photo with giant Duffy.

We enjoyed our brief foray to Disney Springs, and I picked up a gift for a friend at the new UNIQLO store there. But the real reason we visited was to meet Coke Bear.

We headed back to Epcot when we were done, taking a bus to the Boardwalk resort and the ferry from there to Epcot. It was a nice, unhurried trip.

When we got back, we still had about a half hour to kill before our dinner, so we met Snow White. She sounded just like her movie! It was a fun meeting.

Here she was showing us her long sleeves, which we had just been admiring. She needed them that night. This was the night we realized we really needed to pack hoodies in the backpack for after it gets dark.

I love her reaction to her flower crown pin.

Tom, ever the gentleman.

We walked to Italy and got in line for our Via Napoli reservation. The line was enormous just to tell them you were there for your reservation! And inside, they still had the air on, so it was uncomfortably cold. But still...Via Napoli pizza is the best just about anywhere. So we enjoyed.

After this, we hustled it out of there so that we could get a bus just before Illuminations ended. Of all the evening signature shows, Illuminations is our least favorite. It's fine, it's just not anything we feel we have to do. So we hopped on a bus back to our resort, and rested up, eager for another day of Disney magic the next day.

But little did we know just how MUCH Disney magic was in store for us the next day.

Stay tuned for Day 3 of our trip. Animal Kingdom, and a special SURPRISE.

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